Zambia after the 2021 General Elections By Henry Kyambalesa

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  • NTRODUCTION
  • Thus far,
  • I have shared some of my most provocative views and opinionswith my fellow Zambians concerning our beloved country’s development-related problems and prospects in several articles. This article is mostprobably going to be the last one before the general elections scheduled forAugust 12, 2021.In the article, I hope I will succeed in provoking a protracted andconstructive debate concerning the potential for the United Party forNational Development (UPND) Alliance to assemble a morerepresentative government than the Patriotic Front (PF).However, I will be amiss not to briefly discuss the problem of inadequatefinancial resources which some our former Republican presidents havecited as having been a contributing factor to their failure to provideadequately for services and facilities, among a host of other things, to meetthe needs and expectations of the people.WE NEED AN INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENTThe list of at least 30 Permanent Secretaries and the 30 or so governmentministers in the PF Cabinet that was dissolved on May 12, 2021 to pave theway for the forthcoming general elections shows that the positions were, byand large, held by citizens from provinces in the north-eastern part of thecountry.One would have expected the Republican President, Dr. Edgar C. Lungu, toensure that his administration was as ethnically inclusive as possible, atleast with respect to the position of Permanent Secretary. At the Ministeriallevel, the President could have nominated 8 deserving citizens from theother provinces to join the National Assembly, as provided for in theRepublican constitution, and add them to his Cabinet.Zambia belongs to all the citizens who constitute the 73 tribes, and who hailfrom its 10 provinces. There is, therefore, a need for a new team of political
  • 2players that, by design, will at least be composed of UPND AlliancePartners at the highest level of government.The UPND Alliance Partners include the following eminent citizens: (a)Mr. Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND; (b) Ms. Mutale Nalumango, UPNDAlliance Vice Presidential Candidate; (c) Mr. Charles Milupi of theAlliance for Democracy and Development (ADD); (d) Mr. Felix Mutati ofthe Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); (e) Mr. Kelvin B. Fube ofthe Zambia Shall Prosper Movement (ZSPM); (f) Mr. Ernest Mwansa ofthe Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED); (g) Mr. KalubaSimuyemba of the Movement for Change and Equality (MCE); and (h) Mr.Joseph Akafumba of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).Besides, and as I have maintained in some of my previous articles, theUPND Alliance is much more likely to reverse the current socioeconomicdecay and backwardness and improve the socioeconomic vistas of ordinarycitizens over the next 5 years. I sincerely and profoundly believe so mainlybecause its administration will draw from the knowledge, expertise andexperience of prominent leaders and other citizens from Alliance partnerswho, by and large, hail from the country’s 10 provinces.In February 2020, my traditional cousin and Vice President Inonge Winawas quoted in a news story entitled “Opposition Has Not Done Much toEnsure that Kaande Ward in Mongu District Is Developed – Wina” ashaving said the following:“[Over] … the years, the people of Kaande [Ward] have voted forcandidates from the opposition who have not done much to ensure thatthe area is developed.”The idea in this regard is to dupe some of our gullible fellow citizens thatopposition political parties should compete with the government by usingtheir private resources in the pursuit of economic development, in providingassistance to chieftains, in responding to disasters, in disbursing social cashtransfer funds financed by Western development partners, and so forth.One would, of course, expect all Zambians to know that only the politicalparty that is given the mandate to form government has both the authorityand the responsibility to use public resources to pursue developmentprojects and programmes and to provide for essential public services andfacilities nationwide.
  • 3So, they have clearly and effectively perfected the art of usingdevelopment, assistance to chieftains, the disbursement of social cashtransfer funds, and the provision of public services and facilities as politicalweapons.We need a government that will, for example, pursue development projectsand programmes in all communities, districts and provinces irrespective ofthe political parties and/or candidates the citizens in such communities,districts or provinces vote for.INADEQUATE FINANCIAL RESOURCESSince our beloved country’s political independence in October 1964, wehave miserably and lamentably failed to use our national resources wiselyin our quest to attain meaningful socioeconomic development and improvethe livelihoods of the majority of our people. Besides, we have continued tomortgage our country by borrowing heavily from both local and externalsources of funds in order to sustain government operations.The UNIP Era:During the UNIP era, for example, rampant economic and public-sectormismanagement resulted in the diversion of human, financial, and othernational resources to unproductive projects and programmes.For instance, the creation of the Central Committee (a somewhat parallelstructure to the National Assembly) and the position of Prime Minister thatfollowed the introduction of a one-party State in 1972 contributed greatly tothe misappropriation of public resources, and also escalated the cost ofperforming government functions.During the same era, implementation of socialist policies increased ourcountry’s public-sector borrowing and government spending to finance theoperations of state companies, and the operations of their subsidiaries,especially in times when they were not able to generate profits.Alan Whitworth has summed up the financial situation which our belovedcountry faced between the late 1960s and 1991 in the following words:“[Virtually] … all resources were devoted to wages, debt service, subsidies… and bailing out parastatals.”
  • 4Besides, the compulsory recruitment of Grade 12 students to undergomilitary training and engage in agricultural production activities between1975 and 1980 at Zambia National Service (ZNS) camps (as mandated byZNS Act No. 121 of 1972) contributed to the draining of public coffers.A lot of money was wasted on ZNS personnel, the construction of facilitiesto accommodate Grade 12 graduates, payments of stipends to the graduates,and on procurements of food, uniforms, semi-automatic rifles (SARs), andlive ammunition and blanks for training purposes.The MMD Era:In March 2007, the former and late President Levy Mwanawasa, during hisofficial visit to Namibia, revealed that 65% of the national budget wasdevoted to the sustenance of a bloated state apparatus, and that only a paltry35% was left for education, agriculture, healthcare, roads and bridges, andso forth.In June 2009, former President Rupiah Banda decried the fact 50% of thegovernment’s domestic revenues were spent on 1% of the population,including government ministers, and wondered how provision for roads,hospitals, schools, energy, and defence and security could be met.The PF Era:In October 2012, an article by Kabanda Chulu, which appeared in the now-defunct The Post Newspaper, revealed that 50% of the 2013 nationalbudget would be spent on the wages, salaries, allowances, and fringebenefits of civil servants and government officials.And in October 2014, Mr. Alexander Chikwanda was quoted by ZambiaWeekly as having revealed that 75% of Zambia’s domestic revenue in 2015(amounting to K35 billion) would be consumed by wages, including thoseof Zambia’s 200,000 civil servants (K15 billion) and other salariessupported by government, leaving only 25% to cater for all othergovernment operations designed to facilitate socioeconomic development inthe country.So, there is a need to ask all political leaders and their parties contesting theforthcoming presidential election to explain where they will find the fundsto employ in implementing their grandiose projects and programmes.
  • 5In the ensuing sections, I have outlined viable ways and means by whichthe government can administer the process of saving our beloved country’sresources for application in meeting some of the needs and expectations ofthe people. The viable ways and means I have pinpointed can only beimplemented by a new government; they cannot be implemented by anexisting government like the PF administration, which has maintained amassive structure of government and a huge number of sinecures.SOURCES OF GOVERNMENT REVENUETraditional Sources of Revenue:There is a need to improve the collection of revenues from traditionalsources, and to ensure that the revenues collected are prudently used in thedispensation of public services, construction of modern public facilities,and maintenance of public facilities.These sources include the following: (a) personal and business incometaxes; (b) sales tax; (c) postal revenues; (d) national lottery; (e) commercialundertakings; (f) customs duties; (g) passport fees; (h) fire-arm registrationfees; (i) excise taxes; (j) hunting licence fees; (k) work permit fees; (l)citizenship and naturalization fees; and (m) NRC replacement fees.The selling and/or buying of government bonds (by the Bank of Zambia)through the Lusaka Stock Exchange and regional stock markets on behalfof the government (by means of “open market operations”) should alsoprovide additional revenues for the central government.Besides, there is a need to bolster economic growth and job creationthrough lower sales tax and lower income taxes in order to make it possiblefor individuals and business entities to keep more of their hard-earnedincomes for investment, savings and consumption and consequentlybroaden the tax base by getting more citizens to work and who will paytaxes, as well as incentivising existing and new business entities that willbolster the country’s tax revenues.And effort in this regard will need to be made to lavishly incentivise bothlocal and foreign investors in order to bolster the supply and variety ofgoods and services, as well as expect them to make a contribution to the
  • 6stock of jobs and absolve large numbers of the unemployed.Consolidation of Public Services:There will be a need to consolidate some government services that will beexpected to result in cost savings. For example, there will be a need tocreate an autonomous Bureau of Statistics and Archives to replace theCentral Statistics Office (CSO) and the National Archives of Zambia(NAZ) so that the new entity will freely and independently collect, process,maintain, publish, and archive essential data and information about ourbeloved country;Realignment of Foreign Missions:Zambia will need to reduce the number of its embassies and consulates inorder to save some money for allocation to poverty reduction and othersocial needs. In this regard, most of our country’s smaller number offoreign missions will need to serve groups or clusters of countries throughextra-accreditation rather than serve single countries.This, of course, is not to slight the role the ministry responsible for foreignaffairs plays in our quest to work hand in hand with other peace-lovingnations worldwide in creating a more democratic, more peaceful, moreaffluent, and more egalitarian global community.A Smaller National Government:There is a need to create a smaller national government by streamlining thegovernment structure, and by creating ministries that do not haveoverlapping functions. The national government should, in this regard, havefewer government ministries than we have under the PF government.To paraphrase Mr. William J. Clinton, a former U.S. president, we need tocreate a government that is smaller, a government that lives within itsmeans, and a government that does more with less.The creation of a “smaller” national government can be accomplished bygetting rid of sinecures—that is, positions that inflate the cost of runninggovernment but which contribute little or nothing to the overall output ofgovernment services.Civil servants who would be affected by the streamlining exercise should
  • 7be encouraged to seek early retirement with full benefits. Professional andskilled civil servants should be re-deployed in the handful of newgovernment ministries, while others could be re-deployed in executiveagencies.Huge savings in the form of salaries, special allowances, and utilityallowances could be made through the streamlining of the nationalgovernment.Other savings would be in the form of the various kinds of paymentscurrently being made by the government on behalf of government officialswho would be retired with full retirement benefits, including payments forhousing, phones, buildings, office supplies, automobiles, gasoline, water,and electricity. The creation of a government with a smaller number of Cabinet-levelportfolios should be complemented by the following measures designed tocapture additional cost savings:(a) Removal of unnecessary and cumbersome bureaucratic procedures andexcessive paperwork that prevent civil servants from competentlyperforming their work;(b) Waging a vicious war against corruption and, thereby, reduce thecurrent haemorrhage of public resources through the scourge;(c) Ensuring that tenders to perform sub-contracted work and/or supplymaterials to the government are awarded to companies with traceablerelevant experience but whose bids are the lowest;(d) Scaling down on government involvement in the operations of state-owned companies in order to ease the financial burden of such companieson the public treasury;(e) Management of complementary or executive government agencies by asmall ensemble of technocrats to save both financial and material resourcesfor application in meeting some of the basic needs and expectations ofordinary citizens; and(g) Going through public expenditures line by line, programme by
  • 8programme, agency by agency, department by department, and ministry byministry in order to eliminate unnecessary application of public funds.An Efficient National Government:Our country needs a national government that is not only “smaller,” but onethat is “efficient” as well. This can be accomplished by means of suchmeasures as the following: (a) by enacting pieces of legislation designed toreduce the incidence of by-elections, which have been costly to the nation;and (b) by devising and implementing strategies designed to create a workenvironment that will be conducive to the nurturing and tapping of newideas and innovations from civil servants—ideas and innovations whichwill be used to improve the dispensation of public services.Aid from Development Partners:There will be a need for wise utilisation of financial and material resourcesprovided by our country’s development partners, and to periodically thankthem for their development-related assistance. Currently, our country’smultilateral and bilateral cooperating partners include the AfricanDevelopment Bank, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany,the IMF, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UnitedKingdom, the United States, and The World Bank.These countries support our development efforts in different fields andsectors, including agriculture, decentralization, education, energy, gender,governance, health, housing, HIV/AIDS, macroeconomics, private sectordevelopment, social protection, science and technology, tourism, water,transportation infrastructure, and the environment.There is no doubt that their support has continued to bolster our country’sefforts to address some of the problems facing the country and its people,including poverty, hunger, ignorance, illiteracy, disease, widespreadunemployment, disadvantaged children, dilapidated infrastructure, crime,corruption, and moral decay.
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