Tag Archives: Zambia

Lessons from Kaundanomics

A story is told that a few years after independence in 1964, Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president, visited one of the mines in the mineral rich Copperbelt Province and was immediately struck by the complete absence of Zambians in senior management positions.

He proceeded to ask the mine owners as to when they reasonably thought Zambians would be ready to occupy positions of influence within the country’s mining sector. With straight faces, the mine owners responded “not before 2003, Mr. President.”

Following independence from Britain, Zambia’s economy was organized broadly along capitalist free market lines. The economy, split up into mining and non-mining sectors, was wholly in the hands of foreign private interests. The copper mines, the country’s jewels, were owned a 100% by Anglo American Corporation and American Metal Climax. Both companies having obtained the rights to mine copper in perpetuity from Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (Rhodes had himself obtained the mining rights under dubious circumstances). The non-mining sector – including banks, insurance companies, construction companies and so on – were similarly in the hands of foreign interests.

The logic, or at least hope, in organizing the economy in this way was that unfettered foreign capital would not only drive productivity improvements at home, including knowledge and technological transfers, but would, crucially, play a big role in meeting the newly independent country’s social expenditure targets. The latter point was of vital importance given that the colonial government had disproportionately privileged whites in the provision of social services.

Unsurprisingly, unfettered foreign capital did the exact opposite. Instead of re-investing a considerable proportion of their profits in local operations, the mining companies externalized almost everything. Before independence, mining companies had re-invested about 50% of their profits in Zambian operations. After independence, the rate of re-investment fell to about 20%, according to estimates by Oliver Saasa, a Zambian development expert.

Things were not any better in the non-mining sector. Saasa estimates that the outward remittance of dividends to foreign owners increased by 84% in 1966, two years after independence. As for the commercial banks, they continued just as before to favor resident Europeans in the provision of credit facilities. Only 15% of bank credit was extended to Zambian citizens, a move that constrained the emergence of an indigenous entrepreneurial class.

In as far as funding the state purse was concerned, the mining and non-mining companies utilized all manner of gimmicks, including “invisible costs,” to ensure that their tax liabilities in Zambia were kept to a bare minimum.

It very early on dawned on Kaunda and his team that “the encouragement of private investment inevitably meant the promotion of the dominance of foreign enterprises in the productive sectors of [Zambia’s] economy.” Rather than be engaged in a never-ending game of dubious logic with the foreign capitalists, Kaunda decided to act.

Continue reading on Africa is a country

By Grieve Chelwa

Picture credit: Rodger Bosch/Getty Images.

Now or never for the international community in Zambia

The arrest and incarceration of a Zambian opposition leader could be a feint to test the response of the international community. If it’s limp, expect a wider and possibly even more violent crackdown. Read the op-ed of Greg Mills published on The Daily Maverick (South Africa).

Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the Zambian opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), was arrested by police in his Lusaka home on Tuesday, 11 April.

It was a well organised night attack. Armed police and paramilitaries in plainclothes switched off the power to the house and blocked off  access to the main roads before breaking down the entrance gates to the property.

Once inside the police liberally fired tear gas and, according to  HH, as he is widely known, “tortured” his staff and ransacked the New Kasama property. In an affidavit of events, this involved stealing “colossal” amounts of cash, along with carpets, food and apparently just about anything else the invaders could get their hands on.

The businessman-turned-politician barricaded himself and his family in a safe-room in the house, sending out a torrent of urgent texts just after midnight highlighting his plight to friends and the media, before surrendering to police mid-morning once his lawyers had been permitted access.

Hichilema has now been charged with treason, and is being held at Lilayi Police Staff College outside the capital for questioning.

Since those accused with treason do not receive bail, he could be in for a long time. Access to the restricted Lilayi compound has so far been denied to his lawyers.

Equally, this event has been a long time coming. Most recently, Hichilema’s motorcade apparently failed to give way to that of President Edgar Lungu in Mongu three days earlier, spiking tensions. But relationships have been fraught since the national election in August 2016. Although Lungu was declared the official winner, the UPND claimed massive fraud before, during and after the voting – from the closing down of the main opposition newspaper to the failure to publish results at ballot stations and, most ominously, the slowing of the counting process, always a sign that the rig is in.

HH and his supporters have since as a result refused to acknowledge Lungu as president.

This may explain some of the venom in the raid. According to the opposition, the heavily armed police officers defecated in the house and peed on Hichilema’s bed, “trashing” the family home. The tear gas, which could reportedly be smelt from a long way away, caused harm to his wife and children, who are known to be asthmatic.

But there are deeper reasons behind the violence. The irregularities in the election were brushed over by an international community for whom the criteria of a free election are not the adherence to those democratic norms and standards they would like to see in their own countries.

This is not just a Zambian problem of course.

The regional environment, and especially the emergence of a patronage regime in the hegemon, South Africa, may also have encouraged Lungu and his Patriotic Front to follow a similar path. This includes ramping up pressure on foreign investors, involving cutting back on expat numbers and enforced local buying from PF cadres.

No doubt the international community would prefer to see Zambia’s political implosion as the result of both sides seeking conflict. That’s a cop-out. The violence is a result of a failure to ensure that decent standards were maintained in the election. Such a “shared responsibility” analysis fundamentally fails to acknowledge, too, the state’s virtual monopoly on the levers of violence.

To charge Hichilema for treason for interfering with a motorcade would seem to be self-defeating. Yet it could also be a feint to test the response of the international community. If it’s limp, expect a wider and possibly even more violent crackdown.

Continue reading on The Daily Maverick

By Greg Mills

Zambian presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema of main opposition party United Party for National Development, talks to journalists after casting his ballot during the Zambian general elections on August 11, 2016 in Lusaka. Picture credit: Gianluigi Guercia/Getty Images.

Xenophobia in Zambia: Why it won’t happen in East Africa

Most East Africans hadn’t realised that there are many Rwandans in Zambia, until last week, when mobs went on a looting rampage targeting Rwandan shopkeepers in the west of the capital, Lusaka. They were claiming that the shopkeepers were behind recent ritual killings in the city.

Now there is always a pattern to these things. The riots were really not about the ritual killings. It was about trade rivalry, and the economic crisis in Zambia.

As happened in South Africa last year, the local folks are not willing to accept that the success of the Rwandans is down to good business sense and hard work.

Rather, it is because they are chopping off Zambians’ body parts and using them to generate supernatural economic powers to outcompete locals.

Unsurprisingly, a day later the riots started to spread, and this time Zambian-owned shops were also looted.

In South Africa last year, Somalis and Ethiopians were the target. One minister even accused of them “hoarding their business secrets,” and refusing to share them with South Africans.

These attacks are a result of economic crisis. When everyone is doing well, and has a full stomach and food in the fridge at home, they will not seize on the slightest excuse to loot groceries.

The secret of why emigrants succeed is as old as the hills. Isolated away from home, and not being able to tap into local social security support systems, they have to work the shirts off their backs if they are to live. And being outsiders, they bring a fresh eye, able to see opportunities that familiarity has blinded the “natives” to.

As if to prove this, it is noteworthy that Rwandans were attacked for outdoing Zambians in business because, let us face it, in the world of East African stereotypes, when most people talk of business-minded people, they think of Somalis first, Kenyans second, and Ugandans third.

Rwandans are rather associated with bureaucratic competence and structure, the way Somalis are often associated with the lack of it.

Rwandans, to borrow from the language of motorsport, don’t make the front row of the grid.

Still, the hardworking migrant story is not enough to explain this.

A better path to understanding is to ask whether there is a country in the East African Community, where these kinds of economic-fuelled xenophobic attacks would happen.

While strong anti-foreigner sentiment often bubbles up in the region, my sense is that it hasn’t happened yet because of how business growth has happened in East Africa over the past 20 years.

Two decades ago, the East African countries had nothing. During Ujaama, Tanzanians were equal in having little; Daniel arap Moi wrecked Kenya’s economy; years of conflict and repression ruined Uganda; the genocide threw Rwanda back almost to the Stone Age; and conflict still has Burundi and South Sudan trapped in the Middle Ages.

Continue reading on The East African

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Unsung Heroes of Rural Resilience

PEMBA, Southern Zambia – In scorching heat, Ellen Kacha, inspects her almost failed maize crop, which now looks promising after a rare occurrence this season — normal rainfall for at least two weeks.

Droughts have been a common feature in recent years. This El Nino-induced phenomenon that is sweeping across southern Africa this year seems to have worsened smallholders’ problems. Ellen’s smallholding is no exception.

“The drought spell this year is worse as compared to the last three seasons. Regardless of conservation technologies that I have adopted, I have not been spared”, says the 56 year farmer of Pemba district. Ellen has been practicing conservation agriculture since 2003.

Ellen says she learnt resilient agricultural technologies the hard way, “providing for children as a single mother for 23 years. At that time, my soils had become completely useless due to erosion, so I continued seeking for better methods to sustain my family and my introduction to conservation farming was timely”, she explains.

According to available statistics, 78 per cent of women in Zambia engage in agriculture, contributing a significant percentage to the country’s agricultural output. This output supports 70 per cent of the country’s 13 million plus population. .

However, women remain marginalised in terms of access to credit and most importantly, land. While the former is blamed on financial exclusion, the latter is a product of patriarchal customary land ownership where women are largely excluded from owning land except through their husbands.

Customary land is held and used in accordance with customs and traditions of local communities, without any documentation, further complicating matters for women to obtain credit and other required support for smallholder agricultural development.

“What I have seen in the region is that women are usually at the centre of coping with disasters but are neglected in long-term planning for resilient projects. Poor access to land and other incentives is a serious stumbling block to their progress. This should change for women know better on how to cope”, says Juliane Ineichen, deputy regional director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the financiers of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) rural resilience initiative — R4 — being implemented in Zambia’s southern province.

Continue reading on IPS News

by Friday Phiri

Photo Credits Friday Phiri/IPS

Decline and Regeneration: Zambia’s ghosts of development past

The manufacturer’s plate on the giant turbine casing hints at the vintage of the hydro-electric station: “English Electric Company Ltd, Queen’s House, Kingsway, London”. The once-great British manufacturer of railway locomotives, guided missiles, computers and Lightning and Canberra aircraft, among other iconic engineering contributions, no longer exists, subsumed into the General Electric Corporation in 1968, the merger then creating a business employing more than 250,000.

Today GEC, too, has gone. The company, which by the mid-1990s was valued at £10-billion, was later renamed Marconi Corporation before it folded in October 2006.

Indeed, few things from that era remain the same.

But there’s one. The Mulungushi hydro-electric facility, at the bottom of a 355m ravine 60km south-east of Kabwe in Central Zambia, was constructed by the Broken Hill Development Company and opened in 1925 by the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII. It was built to provide power to the Broken Hill Mine in Kabwe and a second, sister facility was built a further 60km away at Mita Hills. (See main photo)

The tenacity, foresight, engineering and dedication required to build the Mulungushi plant all those years ago is breathtaking, the more so given the steepness of the gradient, the inaccessibility of the location, the prevalence of disease and much else.

Continue reading on The Daily Maverick

by Greg Mills and Dickie Davis

Photo credits The Daily Maverick

Going east: African migrants head for China

After a decade-long push into Africa in search of resources, the Chinese government is still struggling with an image problem – and so are its migrants. The stories are familiar: in Sierra Leone, African labourers complain that their eastern foremen overwork them; Ghana has deported hundreds of Chinese for illegally mining gold; in Zambia, a […]

Agritech Expo participants upbeat about Zambia’s farming future

“I see this region playing a big part in feeding the world in the future” Partners and participants in the upcoming Agritech Expo, taking place from 4-5 April at GART in Chisamba, are upbeat about the future of Zambia’s agricultural sector and see the country as a good investment opportunity. Zambia’s booming farming sector will […]

This week: Making your New Year resolutions works

By Kelvin Esiasa It is interesting to listen to New Year declaration and resolutions. New Year’s declarations are made in order to reaffirm our commitment to positive living in the coming year. The first declaration I received this year was from Arise Ministries International. Arise Ministries International Bishop Harrison Chisembu declared the year 2014 as […]

The Virtual Doctor Will See You No

Chilanga – There are thousands of miles between Chanyanya Rural Health Clinic, a basic medical centre in Zambia’s rural Kafue District with no resident doctors despite being the main centre for nearly 12,000 people, and the New York University (NYU) Teaching Hospital, one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools. The two are worlds apart, […]