Zambia’s trial and error leadership

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Zambia has come a long a way from being one of the richest countries in Southern Africa to one of the poorest. We are told that in the 60s Zambian Kwacha was stronger than the United States Dollars and equal to the UK Pound. A Traveler would travel from Zambia to Kenya using the Kwacha. For many years, God has favoured this country. Unlike many African countries, she is a country that has never experienced civil strife. She is considered as one of the richest in factor endowment/natural resources in Africa.

The country production levels in relation to the population have been declining in real terms. Agricultural productivity has not been spared. While the yield per hectare has been going up in Asia, the same has been dropping in Zambia. In 1991 Zambia had 3.5million cattle when the population was less than 9 million but now she has about 3 million against the population of 13 million. Zambia has the same size of grazing land as Kenya but Kenya produces more than 40 times dairy and beef than Zambia. Health system has literally collapsed. Though mortality rate slightly declined from 106 per 1,000 live births in the 1970s to about 95 in 2000s she has become worse in relation to other countries. Poverty has remained stubbornly high at 67%. Unemployment rate is equally alarming at about 3.5 million of employable labour. Formal employment has remained stagnant at about 500,000 for more than twenty years against a population that has doubled. The Government has been the highest employer with about 180,000 workforce, yet the private sector should have been the highest employer. Perhaps it is important to acknowledge that the mushrooming of informal sector has to some extent cushioned the negative impact of unemployment, though it is being threatened by the minimum wage. The puzzling question which pegs an answer is “why has Zambia become the poorest in the world in a country of plenty?”

Currently, the challenge facing Zambia’s economic and social development is ignorance, lack of patriotism and short memory of citizens; having morally ruined, selfish, visionless and misguided leaders; lack of mechanisms by which citizens can hold elected leaders accountable while they are still in office.

Zambia has over the years neither invested in innovation nor acquired technology to increase its capacity to create wealth. The technology comes and goes with investors after exploiting the natural resources. Zambia sees education as an overhead/cost rather than an investment. Universities have become political institutions rather than source of knowledge through research.

Arguably, another problem is political and economic institutions placing all political power in the hands of a single individual or a small group who have unlimited powers to expand government, resulting in weak economic and political institutions; lack of professional bureaucracy; nepotism; corruption; reneging on promises; inefficient use of resources and frail legal systems, which are all symptoms of big governments. Abuse of power and lack of direction has not spared PF Government. When PF shortcomings are cited by well meaning citizens, die hard cadres who have stopped reasoning take it as hatred.

PF took over government machinery to fill in positions and not to provide leadership. Leadership demands vision, which seems lacking by those entrusted with mandate of running the country. During the reign of late President Mwanawasa, he came up with following:
• Vision 2030, where he envisioned a middle income country by 2030.
• National Development Plans, which were abandoned by Late President Chiluba
• Mid-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
• Policy documents for each ministry

One year and three months of PF being in office, we have not seen or heard PF programmes, which give details of their directions, strategies and resources required. People are time and again being referred to the PF Manifesto, especially by the vocal Secretary General. For instance the PF manifesto has about 4 pages on agriculture. It requires to be expanded into a Government Policy document which should have strategies, milestones, and benchmarks. To-date civil servants are still using MMD policy documents. The Minister of Sports and Youth is busy distributing Government funds without any PF Government programme. The Minister of Justice has abandoned his role as a custodian of justice and is busy fighting opponents rather than ensuring that matters related to people’s justice are addressed. Most of the programmes and projects PF is implementing now and those that are in the pipeline such as roads projects, Millennium Challenge Account for Lusaka water and sanitation, Irrigation support projects were started by MMD. The unfortunate part is that President Sata has not given inspiring direction apart from politicking. He has not been focusing on issues that affect ordinary citizens such as abnormally high mealie meal prices, ritual killings, water and sanitation, army worms etc. The President has remained mute in State House on serious issues while focusing on political opponents who are being denied freedom of assembly. The President has been exercising power without programmes and control. He has been mutilating the law under the pretext of meaning well for the nation. You can see from the pronouncements and haste decisions he has been making. New districts are being created every day, ministries are being bundled and unbundled, civil servants including security wings being harangued at every occasion, opposition parties are being demonized, RDA transferred to Statehouse, some projects such as stadiums not planned for in Government budgets, tribunals are constituted without proper basis, constitutional are abolished today and restored the following day, etc. In my view in exercise of his powers, he does not investigate the implication of his decisions on government systems, structures, resources, civil servants and citizens at large. Some decisions are a recipe for corruption such as transferring RDA to State House. For instance he merged Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and Ministry of Livestock but to-date the two ministries are still budgeted by Ministry of Finance as two distinct ministries.

Perhaps we should conclude in this manner. Zambia is faced with double tragedy, the first having selfish (not passionately concerned about welfare of citizens but themselves) leaders who are skilled in political language and appeasement and on the other hand having a population that has embraced slavery as a way of life due to docility/illiteracy. You can see the level of ignorance even in the educated people, who take creation of districts as development. Do they really understand what development is? Those who were fighting for people’s liberties such as newspapers have abandoned the noble cause and are now lining up for contract favours at State House. Zambians have been in slave camps for many years so much that they now feel it is normal life. Freedom is not freedom until it comes with knowledge. Knowledge wields great power that gives eternal freedom. The mindset of man has often emerged to be oppressor to him/her. It impossible for visionless people to lead ignorant people to a reality that they themselves are not sure exists. The result is injustices, nepotism, corruption, a society that does not value life, civil strife, etc. We deserve the best but in our ignorance we opt for the minimum and average. We suffer as though we were appointed to do so where we have daily learnt to beg for bread. The Zambia we people desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is ours if we as citizens opt to refuse mediocrisy from our leaders and we also resolve to work hard and participate in the economic growth of our nation.

Comments Closed

37 Responses to Zambia’s trial and error leadership

  1. keep in the good function!

    bags burberrry - December 26, 2012
    05:55

  2. How can we expect Zambians to make informed decisions when they do not understand even the simplest of terms, principles and so forth? It is a fact that majority of our population live in the rural areas. Hence, the reason we are so gullible. I do not blame them, they want more from their country and I do not say this with disrespect or disregard to anyone but to simply mean that majority of the population is deprived of “objective media, etc”. Similarly, it also saddens me to see the so called ‘technocrat’ fall for the same tricks over and over again. Zambia needs to stop this mentality of following politicians like Gods! Media equally needs to play a huge role – For example the Watchdog could consider circulating hard copies of what’s really going on to those that do not have access to the internet or devise a strategy so that those that are in the rural areas can get a holistic view of what really goes on within their country. Yet, I can also understand their fear and hesitancy of media personnel especially with threats from various members of the public. It is this fear that demotivates them to carry out their tasks. A wise man once said, do not fear the unknown!

    What I do not understand is why the majority of Zambians would rather keep quiet or simply follow when they see something wrong. It does not matter whether that person is a friend or lent you money, you ought to say something. Furthermore, Zambians would rather pull down a colleague rather than support them particularly if they have something tangible to offer. Equally, Zambians would rather go in the same line of business as the rest of the country, rather than pursue diversification.

    Finally, some Zambians have a very lazy and unprofessional mentality especially towards matters of work. Those within the civil services, private sector, professionals, students and so forth all haven’t a clue of business ethics or ethics in general. By this I mean they are always late, mourning and the list is endless. Even after all this is said, we have not even begun to describe the typical “Zambian Citizen”. I digress; I do not expect such people to know a good leader even if that leader slapped them in the face!

    I have a dream that Zambians will rise.

    Zambia - December 25, 2012
    23:47

  3. How can we expect Zambians to make informed decisions when they do not understand even the simplest of terms, principles and so forth? It is a fact that majority of our population live in the rural areas. Hence, the reason we are so gullible. I do not blame them, they want more from their country and I do not say this with disrespect or disregard to anyone but to simply mean that majority of the population is deprived of so much “objective media, etc”. Similarly, it also saddens me to see the so called ‘technocrat’ fall for the same tricks over and over again. Zambia needs to stop this mentality of following politicians like Gods! Media equally needs to play a huge role – For example the Watchdog could consider circulating hard copies of what’s really going on to those that do not have access to the internet or devise a strategy so that those that are in the rural areas can get a holistic view of what really goes on within their country. Yet, I can also understand the fear and hesitancy of media personnel especially with threats from various members of the public. Something I call ‘Backward Mentality’. It is my conclusion that this fear is what demotivates them to carry out their tasks. A wise man once said, Do not fear the unknown!

    What I do not understand is why the majority of Zambians would rather keep quiet or simply follow when they see something wrong. It does not matter whether that person is a friend or lent you money, you ought to speak up. Furthermore, Zambians would rather pull down a colleague rather than support them particularly if they have something tangible to offer. Equally, Zambians would rather go in the same line of business as the rest of the country, rather than pursue diversification.

    Finally, some Zambians have a very lazy and unprofessional mentality especially towards matters of work. Those within the civil services, private sector, professionals, students and so forth all haven’t a clue of business ethics or ethics in general. By this I mean they are always late, mourning and the list is endless. Even after all this is said, we have not even begun to describe the typical “Zambian Citizen”. I digress; I do not expect such people to know a good leader even if that leader slapped them in the face!

    It is my dream that some day Zambians will rise!

    My Zambia - December 25, 2012
    23:39

  4. Those who are dissappointed with Sata and his PF should blame themselves. PF is a bunch of ingnorant people who have no clue of even a basic development policy or strategy. At the end of Sata`s 5 year tenure, Zambia will be 20 years backward.

    blago - December 25, 2012
    08:35

  5. Quotes of the year by Fred Ruwe: When PF shortcomings are cited by well meaning citizens, die hard cadres who have stopped reasoning take it as hatred.

    You can see the level of ignorance even in the educated people, who take creation of districts as development. Do they really understand what development is?

    Those who were fighting for people’s liberties such as newspapers have abandoned the noble cause and are now lining up for contract favours at State House.

    Priscilla Namukoko - December 25, 2012
    07:48

  6. Watchdog, I want to congratulate you for placing such an informative article, and may I further congratulate the author so much. This is an issue based article, to the core. You can’t find such an article in newspaper in zambia.

    Watchdog, please, look for such writers to continuously put up such articles, so that the government of the day can be taken on evidence-based critique. Then the people will join in demanding true accountability from Mr Sata and his so called ministers.

    Watchdog, move away from personal reporting, don’t be like the post newspaper bent on destroying those they don’t like and ignoring facts.

    Watchdog, you are the most read media outlet in zambia, now. Rebrand yourselves and serve the country from mediocrity.

    Sydney museleka - December 25, 2012
    05:58

  7. Deal with facts, did Mwanawasa come up with Vision 2030 in the first year? When did the MMD come up with the 6th NDP? In their first year? I haven’t understood what this noise is about to be honest. GeV the PF their 5 years. If they haven’t performed vote them out!

    Confucius - December 25, 2012
    05:35

    • Batoteleniko ba PF! they come up with Millie meal, cement and fuel shortages in their first year. They come up with street vendors in their first year. They come up with tribalism in their first year. They come up with reshuffles in their first year, they come up with costly by elections in their first year. Lots of traffic accidents happened in their first year! They come up with 90 days in their first year lol

      kazk - December 25, 2012
      06:09

    • As long as people who reason like you continue exixsting, zambia will continue being poor. You always bury yo head in the sand and pretend that yo pf is doing anythng when they are not. Wake up!

      Mubanga - December 25, 2012
      07:10

  8. The article is well articulated, but the truth is that it is too long for the majority of the Zambians who are now dyfuntional illiterate. People are no longer able to read because of poverty load shedding & absence of the culture of reading among us blacks. As one honest but racist white person put it, ‘if one wants to hide something from a black person, one needs to put it in writing’.Reason being that we don’t like to read period. Even thieves have come to appreciate this fact.For instance, I want to challenge my fellow country men & women who have experienced an unfortunate situation of being broken into their houses or residences to raise their hands if their books, magazines and/or any reading materials have been taken during the raids or robberies. None! Thieves don’t value reading materials late alone the potential buyers of the sstolen items.culture of reading does not exist, hence the choices of our eaders is not based on whether person aspiring for the office can read. A policy document or even a news paper.Go to govt & pararastal offices of officers who receive free news papers & see the piles for the. Reading materials which they deny their families from having access to. Therefore Zambia is at a crossroad countrymen. We to read so that we aRe able to determine quality leadership & not surrender our democratic rights to a clique of people whose primary goal is hello bent on destroying any semblance of democratic virtues. The cliques’ propaganda machinery based at state house is not helping the President to govern in all ernest. My expectation has been two fold: (1) explain to the citizenry the @residents vision & mission at least for the 5 yrs of his first term. Instead they energy is focused on Nevers Mumba & his MMD. On HH & his bitter & tribal inclination, on public lambasting his servicing officials & service chiefs when he is appointing and/or firing the now alleged relatives. (2) manage the seeming tribal divide – Bemba vs Tongas. Or Bembas vs Lozis, Bembas calling Luvales as namazayis. State house is place national pride, Chellah seems not to be suitable for that position as Hon Kabimba is misplaced in th Justice ministry. Mr President, take a look in the mill or, put KK aside he is old & can not re-engineer Zambia’s development- the man’s humble education is not commensurate with the current sicio-econoic & technological challenges of globalization. He was a good political emancipated- that is done & we thank him very much& Put kabimba aside he is destroying the boat, put GBM aside, he does not know how to draw a line between gov & the private. Nor does he subscribe to the ethics of good governance, a necessary condition for democratic ethnics, even basic tenets. Don’t draw the first lady into govt unconstitutional expenditures as it will haunt her when you leave office. And further spoil your elagacy Natasha

    chamunuka - December 25, 2012
    00:31

    • Please use your spellchecker to correct spelling mistakes for example elagacy should be legacy, ethnics should be ethics.

      Melvin Hamalambo - December 26, 2012
      06:04

  9. The reason why Zambia is poor is because politics is the only job for both educated and uneducated Zambians.

    Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe - December 24, 2012
    21:27

  10. Powerful analysis.Zambians are too docile. Miles Sampa recently revealed that Mining companies are evading tax his boss Chikwanda comfirmed and accused KCM of under reporting production figures. These are serious matters in other countries but in docile and complacent Zambia its business as usual. Our own miners know how much this country is being raped economically by the so called mine owners and we sit happily looking. Any comment is hatred and bitterness. Can’t we for once face reality for the sake of future generations.

    Vigil Citizen - December 24, 2012
    20:55

  11. Can some reasonable person tell us what PF thinks about the large numbers of grade 7 dropouts. Should we also let the world know that we have purchased this and that for our Army like Mwamba detailed in the media the other day. Ciza uli?

    Zyuka Uwalola - December 24, 2012
    16:38

  12. In short: myopic and visionless leaders + docile and illiterate population = disaster. Zambia is a disaster in the current form where it does not inspire confidence except in those who belong to the family forest.

    Bob - December 24, 2012
    15:10

  13. How can we talk of visionary leaders when technocrats are being frustrated by having heads of department who are less educated but getting a lot of money just because it is believed they have to be paid heavily for ushering a given party into office.politicians should stay abreast with new developments globally if they have to be vital and play a meaningful role in national development.civil servants should head departments that are pivotal in ensuring that set goals are achieved.misplacement of heads of department by not taking into consideration their expertise or subject area is also a contributing factor as it would lead to misunderstandings between them and technocrats under their supervision.

    grace - December 24, 2012
    14:38

  14. Minds that i can interact wth here. No offence intended but majority zambians are docile and gullible. It is no wonder that the so called urban population imposed very mediocre leadership to run this nation.
    The current leadership is so insecure & mediocre such that any critism is respondd 2 wth fury & anger. Such attitudes only go to show the insecurity that thoz curently in leadership have starting wth the less educated top dog of ths nation.
    There is litlle to be proud of ths nation am afraid.

    lezgee - December 24, 2012
    12:34

  15. People write stories without facts.
    Let me correct this author.
    The Kwacha was introduced January 1968. Prior to that we used the Northern Rhodesia Pounds, Shillings and Pence (L s d).
    This currency was on par with the British Pound.
    When the Kwacha was introduced, it was immediately rebased to be on par with the US dollar and half of the British pound. So, the green K2 note was £1. The reason for this was that Britain also became metric and did away with the Shilling.
    Ok!

    THE SAINT - December 24, 2012
    12:30

    • my friend you are dull ai the author wrote in the 60s ie from 1960-1969 of whch 68 z within range. go to sku,learn more and appreciate education PLEASE EEEHHH

      mod - December 24, 2012
      15:12

    • This should not have been in disagreement with the author, but a further clarification. The author and you mean the same thing – the Kwacha was stronger and comparable to the British Pound unlike today when the Kwacha cannot be used anywhere outside of Zambia.

      Bob - December 24, 2012
      15:31

  16. Last night I spent a few hours to go through the Sixth National Development Plan and the Vision 2030 and asked myself a key question. Has the PF government key decision makers like the Minister of Finance and all newly appointed Permanent Secretaries ever read these documents ?

    If they have,what do they think about some of the MMD’s macroeconomic policy as outlined in the Sixth National Development Plan ?

    If the PF does not agree with the policies suggested by the former MMD,then please can they tell the nation what alternative policies have they got for Zambia.

    Our national development can not be allowed to be depend on decrees from one person-the President. If this continues,then should expect one scenario only-more poverty for the majority of Zambians.

    The new year will be very critical for Zambia. Do we as a nation continue to drift like a boat without any clear destination and policy direction or demand for better leadership from the PF? Zambians gave the PF government the authority to govern us and constitutionally,we have the power to nullify that social contract.

    By voting PF into government,it does not mean we have privatised our nation to the PF and that only the PF club members have the right to be heard and to dictate the economic direction of our country.

    If we allow the status quo to continue then, we have all agreed to subject our children and their children to more poverty.

    Pimbi Mano - December 24, 2012
    12:21

  17. I had been quite of late hoping for sum improvement frm UKWA bt still disapointed…..why…why…why…?

    Evelyn Hone reloaded - December 24, 2012
    12:12

    • UKWA USELESS UKWA XPECT MO PROBLEMS

      mod - December 24, 2012
      15:13

  18. I pray that God delivers this nation from the talons of ignorance and unnecessary hero worshipping.With our visionless head, Zambia sealed its fate,it chose a five year term of doom,we owe this irrevisible tragedy to the poor majority,next time people should know what to do before dropping their ballot papers into the ballot box.

    Ndilanga buyo - December 24, 2012
    12:11

  19. We need leaders of the 21th centualy,not stone age leaders like what we have now

    Mr Kiss - December 24, 2012
    11:59

  20. Excellent analysis. We need real change in mentality!

    kaps - December 24, 2012
    11:31

  21. Its no wonder that Barotseland sees nothing but poverty by belonging to a failed state like Zambia. Barotse people are better being on their own than belonging to a failed state. Most of the citizens in this country think the lives they are leading are normal because they have not gone out to benchmark with others. Poverty is not only a disease but a curse.

    Homestead - December 24, 2012
    11:10

  22. Very good article indeed.I hope some of these seat warmers in GRZ have read this.It all happens when you have dodgy people for instance with forged diplomers, thieves facing 15billion kwacha charges in the courts of law etc… leading the country.

    Bring back the retarted guy from Japan - December 24, 2012
    11:04

  23. Zambian’s second dictator micheal sata is clueless of what is happening around him. example how do u explain the mass exodus of mmd members joining pf. its becoz pf is seen as a money generating scheme. fellow zambians let raise and remove this dictator.

    mazoka massacre - December 24, 2012
    10:43

  24. Zambia showing signs of a failed state because of ignorance of her citizens

    Roué - December 24, 2012
    10:43

  25. from 1964 zambia has had alot of trial and error leadership

    zambia - December 24, 2012
    10:29

  26. When all has been said and done, Zambians are their worst enemies when it comes to matters of representative government and the choosing of officials thereof. They seem to have a knack for always choosing the wrong people to lead them either as councillors, members of parliament or presidents. Zambians should have learnt by now that their country’s development does not lie in an individual’s outlandish and illusory promises or in the so-called power of one ethnic group. There is no person who can claim to be a miracle worker to resuscitate and develop Zambia. If Zambians want their country to move forward they must campaign for the creation of strong and functioning institutions, clear-sighted policies and progressive legislation, and not just wait for politicians to do this. If there are no strong institutions, or if the president’s powers are not curbed; if there is no separation of power with a strong and independent judiciary as well as a functioning justice system, the country will continue “going nowhere slowly”. However, the main reason Zambia is in a mess is due to the ubiquitous phenomenon of “recycled” politicians. This group of mostly old men is bent on promoting outmoded solutions to complex and modern realities. This is the independence generation which brought Zambia to its knees and they are the ones who continuously let Zambians down, decade after decade. These are the same people who were proficient in sloganeering which was central to Kaunda’s dictatorship and who had only made matters worse for those who wanted a free and vibrant Zambia. At every rally, meeting or public engagement that Kaunda had officiated, a party official would whip up frenzy and shout slogans in this manner: Kumulu lesa, panshi Kaunda, meaning: in heaven its God, on earth its Kaunda, basically reinforcing Kaunda’s omnipotence. Or chant in the following manner: KK wamuyaya! KK wamuyaya! KK wamuyaya! This is translated as: KK for ever and ever – KK being the acronym of Kenneth Kaunda. Then Kaunda would rise onto podium and shout: One Zambia! And the people would respond: One Nation! One Zambia! Kaunda would shout again and the people would once more respond: One Nation! Then a party leader would provide a rejoinder in this way: One Nation? The people would answer: One Leader! The UNIP party official would further shout out the slogan in the form of a question: And that leader? The people would then respond accordingly: Dr. Kaunda, no change, wamuyaya, lesa a pale – Lesa a pale means God bless. As the years went on, the slogans also grew longer and weirder. Now these are the same people who are being “re-called” to offer solutions to Zambia’s development hurdles?

    Sadly, Chiluba and his colleagues could have worked hard for a national catharsis to transpire by expunging all the remnants of the one-party state regime from all facets of the Zambian society. This could also have allowed for proper investigations conducted into the corruption, misappropriation of funds and gross human rights violations which had transpired during the one-party state era and culprits brought to book (these malpractices did take place during the one-party state). More importantly, Kaunda and his colleagues could have been made to account for their misdeeds because there was gross misconduct by politicians in this period. But because Chiluba was not a serious and circumspect president, or astute politician for that matter, Kaunda and his cronies were allowed to sanitise themselves and as things took a turn for the worse in the third republic, the former UNIP functionaries were emboldened. Since Zambians do not want to learn from history or even remain uninformed about their own history, Kaunda and the surviving members of the former ruling UNIP clique have now re-emerged as icons.

    Ndangwa Noyoo - December 24, 2012
    10:22

    • too long for a blog mate

      Suggestor - December 24, 2012
      14:45

      • Find him another platfoam chikalahh chobe,you are the same coolies who are eating vomit but don’t want 2 accept

        senseless ntombeshako - December 24, 2012
        17:38

  27. I concur with your analysis. Zambia real needs selfless and visionary leaders.

    Honest - December 24, 2012
    10:15

  28. ok

    amos mubanga - December 24, 2012
    10:10

    • Is that all you can say or have you really read this article? You are exibiting exactly the same docility or illiteracy which the writer is talking about.

      Bob - December 24, 2012
      15:22