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Zambia: Decisions with unintended consequences?

Asumani Guloba's picture

Since the start of 2012, expectations in Zambia have been running high: stable economy; a newly elected government; recently crowned African football champions.  Everything seems possible.  For the new government, fulfilling election promises will require well thought through development decisions. Are the decisions taken so far having the intended consequences?

The Zambian economy has been remarkably resilient, with growth averaging 6.6% in the past five years, supported by strong macroeconomic policies, high copper production and favorable prices. End-year inflation has been in single digits for four of the last five years, the debt and fiscal positions well within sustainable levels. In addition, since independence, the country has witnessed five peaceful elections leading to four changes in government. These factors auger well for the future economic prospects of the country. Or do they?


Source. Central Statistical Office, 2012


Source. Central Statistical Office, 2012


While affirming Zambia’s sovereign rating to B+, Fitch recently downgraded its outlook from stable to negative. They cited the populist stance of government in hurriedly reversing the sale of 75% government stake in ZAMTEL to Libya’s LAP green Networks for US$257 million that was deemed as corrupt, without compensating the investing party, and other recent public announcements. There have been several seemingly uncoordinated public utterances and actions ranging from setting up commissions to investigate dealings of past governments to changes in civil service.


Understandably the new government has been responding to its election promises of revisiting fraudulent dealings of past regimes and more importantly setting a mark as a government that will not tolerate corruption.  But backward-looking actions will not by themselves address Zambia's development problems.  Unless accompanied by forward-looking policy reforms, they may send adverse signals to investors and, ultimately, the Zambian citizens, whose expectations are high.  Now is the time to start signaling rightly.


I agree with the issues raised in your article. And I also think It is time our political leadership in the country start addressing the fundamental issues that shall sustain and move this country forward. Especially as regards to the challenges of youth development and poverty in general. Our Government should take the challenges facing the youths seriously and come up with or embrace innovative solutions to this challenge. And an important aspect in trying to sustainably solve the challenges of the youth is to facilitate or enable them to be their own solution.

Submitted by Demba on
This is the slogan that often leads to defeating corrupt regimes in Africa... "election promises of revisiting fraudulent dealings of past regimes and more importantly setting a mark as a government that will not tolerate corruption"... But it's all bla bla... One after the other keeps doing same corrupt choices leading to disruptive governance... The struggle, the fight should be within the civil society to not stop right after the newly elected leader, advocating the right things to do... the fight that defeats corrupt government has to still remain deterrent for the new leadership in Africa... Active citizenship is an everyday mentality, commitment to the Great Cause...And as we fight up and down, such divisions and disruptions are fueling western appetite in managing our assets... We deserve more than promise of "good governance" and yet we have to hold our leaders accountable at all times while participating in the development effort through informational reporting/documentaries and synopsis around proposals as our governments are not experts in all areas under their responsibility... That is a Fact! M. Demba Intl. Partnerships

Submitted by Pat Tiagnere on
Africa should develop a strong civil society which is free from politicians’ manipulation. A civil society that advocate for real changes and influences the implementation of policies, which does not stop right after the newly elected leader, advocating the right things to do.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Interesting article.......for me it is important that the focus should be forward looking with long term developmental goals. Fighting corruption retrospectively does not prevent it from happening againt in future.This method has proven itself to be an insufficient deterent. While accountability is always important, this "pound of flesh' mentality will not address the real issues around corruption reduction/ prevention. Election after election the incumbent political leaders are investigating the former and yet when their own terms of office end, they are found guilty of the same practices. To seriously tackle corruption we need strong independant public institutions and parastatals that are empowered and mandated to operate outside the sphere of direct government influence. Run by professional qualified public administrators with no political affiliations but hired on merit and whose performance is measured via objective KPI'S. If we can start just by cleaning up & rebuilding these public institutions that will be a step in the right direction. Politicians come and go ; governments come and go but institutions remain and if the decay is not addressed it is carried forward regardless of who is power.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Every government tries to hold criminals responsible and Afrcian governemnts should do the same. Good governance means upholding the law and holding those responsible for breaking the law accountable. This is what the leadership is trying to do. It seems that the African never do anything right in the eyes of the the west. The west investigate criminals and corrupt individual but you expect the Afrcian should be "forward looking" while individuals and corporations rob and steal for the people. The Problem with previous African governments is that they allow the Mobutu, Dinka and Et al to embezzell the national resources and export them to Swiss, french, German and American banks. These resources/ money should have been reinvested in Africa instead they were use to shore up European countries. The current investments in Africa is only a happening due to the uncertanity of the European and american financialy market. once these markets return to their normal position Africa will be similar South Asia after 1991/1992 capital flight.

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