Saturday, June 16, 2007
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
Looking at the state of agriculture in Zambia today, we agree with the observation that has been made by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan that the sector has remained largely neglected on our continent.
And it is encouraging that this international statesman has continued to be useful to the many processes aimed at the advancement of human development, especially the development needs of poor continents like Africa. We not only welcome his ascendancy to the chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa but also acknowledge his precise observations on the state of agriculture in Africa in the last few years.
True to Annan's observation, we can safely state that most governments, especially in Africa, have ignored the role of agriculture to the overall goal of development and poverty reduction. What is even more worrying is that interest in agriculture is diminishing at a time when the challenges for food security have become greater.
The numbers of people to be fed are growing and the magnitude of food insecurity is not going down. Even more worrying is that the number of malnourished people in Africa continues to go up while some regions of the continent have continued to face droughts. Yet, as Annan states, it is very clear that we will not pull the people of this continent out of poverty by only revolutionalising agriculture without helping farmers to improve their capacity.
When we talk about improving agriculture, one of the greatest challenges is to improve the ways of doing farming. We have stated many times that agriculture has the potential to be the mainstay of our economy if only a few things are put in order.
We have also stated that improving the conditions of living for the people could to a greater extent be determined by the extent to which the agricultural sector is given attention. So when we talk about improving agriculture in Zambia, we are talking both about the capacity to produce with the capacity for sustainable subsistence as well as to produce for export. If current statistics are anything to go by, most of the labour force in Zambia is in the informal sector, the majority of which is in agriculture-related activities.
If that is the case, then there is every reason why appropriate attention should be given to the sector. In our view, improving agricultural production in the country will also have to depend on the means and ways by which we do our farming. And that will obviously require a revolution in the sector. Such a revolution should essentially be anchored on a programme aimed at a rapid mechanisation of farming. If we are serious about a revolution in this sector, there will be no better way than to move towards mechanisation.
This is the way that countries which are serious about agriculture are taking. Fortunately, we do not need to look far for lessons in this area. Just last Monday, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was handing over agricultural equipment under the country's farm mechanisation programme. There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is moving very well with its programme of rolling out tractors to its farmers, especially those who are unable to purchase them on their own.
According to the Minister of Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation, Dr Joseph Made, mechanisation of farming in Zimbabwe will be undertaken within the horizon of 50 years and the mechanisation policy looks at every aspect of cropping, livestock, plantation and forestry as they relate to machinery and equipment requirements. For Zimbabwe, the decision to mordenise agriculture is irreversible and the people of that country are determined to take the lead on the continent by actually mechanising on individual farmer level.
As a nation, we need to move in this direction if we are serious about the role that agriculture should play in our economy. If anything, mechanisation of agriculture will not be completely new to this country because the UNIP government had at one time embarked on this programme although it was never really sustained. It is not too late to start rethinking the programme of tractorisation. As a consequence of livestock diseases, most peasant farmers’ production capacity has been severely impaired. Therefore, a programme aimed at mechanising farming at the lowest level of production will increase the capacity in the sector.
There are many other areas in which the agriculture sector requires serious attention. These include access to loans for farmers as well as a proper marketing mechanisms for farm produce. The question of a farmers' bank has not yet been adequately answered or addressed. We still see contradictions in terms of the marketing policy of agricultural produce.
All these are questions which need to be addressed if our capacity for agricultural production has to improve.
On the subject of mechanisined farming, we know that such a programme will require huge investments in terms of finances. And this is why such a programme cannot be driven by the market which is largely motivated by profit intentions. If such a programme is to succeed, the government would have to be ready to play a significant role in it. We are not saying that the private sector should not be involved at all.
All we are saying is that the programme for mechanising agriculture should be a major national policy programme which should involve all stakeholders, but the government should be on top of things in this regard because leaving such a programme to the market may not help much in our quest for an improved agriculture sector.
By Kingsley Kaswende in Cape Town
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has said African governments have ignored agriculture over many years. Annan was speaking at a press briefing at the World Economic Forum on Africa, at which he accepted to be chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
"For the past 15 years governments have ignored agriculture. Interest in agriculture has dropped dramatically. It is only recently that this is beginning to change. Advocacy for the green revolution has only grown during my administration as secretary general," he said.
"It is very clear that we cannot pull our people out of poverty without the green revolution, without agriculture, without helping our farmers especially women who do most of the work."
He said 16 of 18 undernourished countries in the world were in Africa, a situation that needed change.
Annan said he was deeply honoured to be taking up the chair of the Green Revolution and hoped to use it to help drive forward progress on an issue critical to wider African development.
"Africa is the only region where overall food security and livelihoods are deteriorating. We will reverse this trend by working to create an environmentally sustainable, uniquely African Green Revolution. When our poorest farmers finally prosper, all of Africa will benefit," he said.
The Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa, which was established last year with an initial US$150 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, seeks to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families across Africa to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and hunger through sustainable increases in farm productivity and incomes.
It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and will be working throughout the continent on a wide range of interventions across the agricultural "value chain," ranging from strengthening local and regional agricultural markets, to helping improve irrigation, soil health and training for farmers, to supporting the development of new seed systems better equipped to cope with the harsh African climate.
Earlier Alliance board member Strive Masiyiwa, who is also Econet Wireless chief executive officer said the number of hungry people in Africa is rising very rapidly.
Over 250 million people live on less than US$1 per day and crop and cereal yields have been stagnant, he said.
"The capacity for Africa to feed itself is under threat from global climatic change. Africa's food imports are projected to rise from US$6.5 billion to US$11 billion by 2020. But it does not have to be that way," Masiyiwa said.
"We can change this."
He said Africa had the technology, knowledge, the will and resources, both human and material to change the situation.
"We believe there is an inspiration, a common convergence of the green revolution," he said.
By Fridah Zinyama
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
AGRICULTURE minister Ben Kapita has said the washing away of roads and bridges due to floods will pose a serious challenge to the Food Reserve Agency in its purchasing and collection of maize from rural areas. This year's farming season was marred by heavy rains which washed away most of the roads and bridges in rural areas.
"The Road Development Agency will have to come up with quick solutions to this problem as it will affect this year's marketing season," Kapita said.
He said RDA will have to source funds to erect temporary bridges in order to help with the maize marketing season.
"The washing away of the roads and bridges is a real challenge for us and if nothing is done most of the maize will remain uncollected in the rural areas," Kapita said.
On Thursday, Kapita announced a reduction in total maize production from 1, 424, 439 metric tonnes from last year's farming season to 1, 366, 158 metric tonnes this farming season.
This represented a decrease of about 4.09 percent in comparison to maize production achieved last year.
By Chansa Kabwela and George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
ZIMBABWE will tomorrow commence the countrywide mobile registration of voters in readiness for next year's presidential and parliamentary elections. During a press conference on Wednesday, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede told journalists that the mobile registration would commence on June 18 up to August 18, 2007.
Mudede said the exercise would include the registration of eligible new voters and those that have since changed constituencies from the last polls.
"We are ready to conduct our countrywide mobile registration which we conduct every year. We will commence on June 18 until mid-August," he said.
Mudede said registration officers had been trained and were ready for deployment.
"The officers will be issuing birth certificates, identity documents as well as voter registration, inspection of the voters' roll, citizenship registration and restoration for those who lost it by default," he said.
Mudede said all districts would have a minimum of three teams deployed to ensure accessibility by all people in the country.
He said people intending to register as voters should take to the registration centres either a national registration card or eligible national registration waiting pass with a picture of the holder on it or a valid Zimbabwean passport.
Mudede said prospective voters were also expected to provide documentary evidence such as the birth certificate if they lost their passports or national identification cards.
He explained that people without birth certificates should bring two witnesses so that they could be issued with identification particulars.
Mudede said drivers' licences would not be accepted for voters' registration.
He said people that were declared stateless by the citizenship amendment Act No.12 of 2003 after they failed to regularise their citizenship status but wanted to restore it are required to bring their birth certificates, original identity cards or a passport and if married, their marriage certificates.
"The requirements would be followed and we appeal to the public to bring the relevant documents to our centres," Mudede said.
He appealed to voters to visit inspection centres to verify if their personal details were recorded correctly and cause corrections to be made where necessary.
Mudede said metal identification cards were still valid and that the public should not congest centres to acquire the new polythene identification cards.
He also advised persons aged 18 years and above or people that had moved to other constituencies to register as voters in their respective areas.
He said details of the exercise would be published in the media and could also be accessed at the relevant district registration offices.
The Registrar General's office recently received US$7 million from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to clear a backlog of 300 passports as well as issue documents.
Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary elections will be held concurrently early next year with local government polls preceding them.
By Jonathan Mukuka in Nakonde
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
Smuggling of cement from Tanzania has increased at Nakonde border. Zambia has been experiencing a critical shortage of cement for over six months now. Investigations at Nakonde border revealed that 90,000 x 50kg bags of Mbeya Cement had passed through Nakonde border without being cleared by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
Further investigations revealed that all the 90,000 bags of cement which had been illegally imported into the country had come through the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority TAZARA goods train loaded at Mbeya town about 109 km from Nakonde border.
A check at TAZARA railway station revealed that 20,000 bags of cement passed through the Nakonde TAZARA railway station four days ago while a total of 70,000 bags went through 10 days ago loaded on wagons with each carrying 1,000 bags.
A customs officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity said some people were illegally importing the cement into the country.
The officer said each 50 kg bag of cement brought into the country from Tanzania was supposed to be charged excise duty at 5 percent and also pay value added tax (VAT) of 17.5 percent per bag.
The officer said the authority has not yet established who was behind the illegal importation of cement.
Further investigations revealed that some of the cement was being offloaded at Kasama and New Kapiri Mposhi railway stations.
Mbeya Cement is bought at K30,000 and sold at K55,000 in Kasama and K60,000 on the Copperbelt.
The construction industry in the country has expanded creating a critical shortage of cement on the market.
By Noel Sichalwe
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota has said political parties in Zambia have reached a consensus that they need to be funded by government. And Sikota said political parties were consulting their members in the country on the constitution review process and they would soon meet to compare notes. Briefing the press at Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue on Wednesday, Sikota said there was need for the government to fund political parties as a way of strengthening democratic governance in the country.
“The consensus has been reached for political parties to get government funding,” he said. “There is consensus in the country and outside that there is need to support political parties to make them relevant and effective. This is happening all over the continent. I recently attended a meeting in Ghana where it was resolved to have state political funding.”
Sikota said ULP was willing to dialogue with all constitutional stakeholders and find a way of evading a referendum on the constituent assembly.
He however, said if the referendum would go ahead, his party would vote for the constituent assembly.
Sikota further said there was need for the government to renegotiate the mining agreements with mining companies in Zambia.
He said the Democratic Republic of Congo was currently re-negotiating the mining agreements and that the government should do the same so that the mineral resources can benefit the majority of Zambians.
By Noel Sichalwe
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
FORMER Republican vice-president Lieutenant Gen-eral Christon Tembo yesterday said justice has prevailed in the London High Court judgment registration. Commenting on the registration of the London High Court judgment in the Lusaka High Court against former president Frederick Chiluba and other Zambia-based defendants, Lt Gen Tembo said people of Zambia have always expected justice in the matter.
"The judgment in London is settled and the nation and everybody must accept it," he said.
"Obviously this is linked to the criminal cases which are taking place here. Those cases should proceed as scheduled. The defendants should be advised to take these proceedings seriously because that will be the only way to clear themselves. There is no point of staying away or delaying matters. Such cases are better dealt with within the shortest possible time. Zambian people are expecting justice to be done and it's better that all the defendants give the side of their story."
Lt Gen Tembo said the Zambian defendants facing corruption charges in the courts should be prepared to give their story to allow Zambian people know what had transpired with regard to the allegations.
"The London High Court registration is welcome and justice has been done," said Lt Gen Tembo.
But Chiluba's spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba said he could not say anything on the registration of the judgment and referred all queries to Chiluba's lawyers.
Lawyer Robert Simeza said he could not comment on the issue outside court and could not even indicate when he would file an application to challenge the registration of the London judgment.
The London High Court judgment was registered in the Lusaka High Court on Wednesday.
This followed an application by Attorney General Mumba Malila to register the London judgment in the foreign judgment register.
High Court judge Japhet Banda granted the application for leave to register the judgment after ex-parte hearing.
Judge Banda gave the Zambia-based defendants seven days in which to apply to set aside the judgment failure to which they could execute the judgment.
During last week's hearing that aimed at reconciling figures involved in the matter, judge Smith accepted that Chiluba should pay US $58,293,724, Xavier Chungu US $58,112,727 and Stella Chibanda US $58,112,727.
Others were Aaron Chungu US $27,193,136, Faustin Kabwe US $53,757,867, Francis Kaunda US $100,575, Boutique Basile US $ 1,815,736 and Raphael Soriano US $29,609,582.
However, judge Smith said the figures would remain valid unless they would be challenged by the non-participating defendants.
Last month judge Smith established that Chiluba and others had defrauded Zambia through the BK Facility and the Zamtrop account in London.
This is a case in which the Attorney General of Zambia took out a civil suit against Chiluba and 19 others who were alleged to have siphoned about US$20 million from the state treasury.
Those co-accused with Chiluba include Cave Malik and Company, Xavier Francis Chungu (XFC), Attan Shansonga, Stella Chibanda, Aaron Chungu, Bimal Thaker, Faustin Kabwe, Francis Kaunda, Boutique Basile, Nebraska Associates Limited, MISSL Associates Limited, Hearnville Estates, Jarban SA, Raphael Soriano Katoto, Belsquare Residence, NV Roland Cracco and Robert Standaert.
By Sungani Z. Phiri, Kabwe
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
Some quarters of the country are gravely mistaken in thinking that Zambians are ignorant of the flaws contained in the current mining agreements signed between the Zambian government and the operators of the mines.
The biggest outcry has been sounded by Zambians themselves in a voice loud and clear enough; a voice in the form of unsettled benefits and pensions, unemployment, hunger, and poverty. Zambians have done it. Others can just sympathise and echo from a distance in the comfort of their homes.
As a nation, we are not here to dish out our resources free of charge to any foreign investor however special they could be. Better be called the worst investment destination and enjoy the benefits of our resources than a good but empty name.
The resources we have in this country are for the enjoyment of Zambians and not for making selfish and greedy people millionaires overnight. If we have such people then they are in a wrong country.
There is no Zambian who is happy with those agreements that were arrived at under duress from the buyers.
As Zambians, we are not even proud of those massive investments in which we have no share. What those interested should know is that as a country, we are not in a hurry to undertake mining activities if those activities do not translate into meaningful benefits for every Zambian. If as a country we have no means and capabilities now to exploit our mineral resources to the betterment of every Zambian, it would be a much wiser thing to let the ores remain in their lithosphere home, where they are secure until such a time that the nation could be ready to utilise the resource for the development of our country.
The minerals we have in this country are not perishables that we should be hurried to harvest. But again, they are non-renewable hence the importance of putting them to better use.
That would be better and would cheer us much more than lose our natural resources to people who are selfish and greedy; people who have been exploiting us and have dominated us from time immemorial; people who have no regard for other people and their welfare.
For these reasons, it would be better to get back to the negotiation table and come up with fresh agreements that would satisfy both parties; agreements that would satisfy Zambians; agreements that would take good care of our mine workers both now and in the future; agreements that would take care of toxic emissions, wastes, air, water and land pollution and general environmental degradation and finally agreements on the financing of the eventual developments of the land once the mining activities and operations are over.
By Concerned citizen
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
I would like to first of all express my disappointment at what I see as the government’s reluctance to renegotiate the mineral royalties from a negligible 0.6 per cent to about 3 per cent.
The revelations by mines deputy minister Maxwell Mwale (The Post 12.06.07)that Zambia only earned K35 billion from the mineral royalties during the 2005/2006 financial year is a sad and shocking one.
This is plunder of our mineral resources by legal means through development agreements entered into by investors and the government’s negotiating team.
Surely what mathematics did they employ in allowing the investors to part away with 99.4 per cent proceeds from mineral sales?
What development would the nation get from the K35 billion royalties? Doesn’t the cost of environmental pollution and degradation outstrip this paltry earning? Renegotiation of mineral taxation is long overdue.
Who is next after Levy?
By Mapani Christopher
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
I wish to add my voice to the ongoing debate regarding the succession of President Mwanawasa. I am of the view that General Miyanda is probably the man we need to be next president. He can help sweep away the massive corruption in this country. My analysis of potential leaders led me to General Miyanda.
Not only is he clean, but he is also mature, articulate and above all intelligent.
He may have his weaknesses but I feel he is by far the best candidate especially after the demise of Mazoka. I thus pray that Zambians consider him as well.
By Laura Miti-Banda
Saturday June 16, 2007 [04:00]
In reading back, this week, on articles on the constitution question that have appeared in this column, as well as those done by other people, it struck me that Levy made a decision long ago that he would never allow the people of Zambia to write a constitution for themselves like they were demanding.
Knowing that, he however allowed excessive amounts of time and money to be spent on the constitution review debate caring absolutely nothing about the wastefulness. This week, I have therefore decided to republish an article done over a year ago just to remind the nation of how Levy has played with us all like fools.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled “Epitaph” that appeared in this column in February 2006, after Mr Mwanawasa made an announcement that seemed to suggest that Zambians might after all get the constituent assembly they so desperately wanted:
When a couple of weeks ago, President Mwanawasa announced that the Mung’omba reviewed constitution will be adopted by a constituent assembly I felt a sense of deep anger.
My first response to Mwanawasa’s statement was to think: of the overall amount of money that has been used by both government and civil society over the question of the adoption of the reviewed Republican Constitution were to be tallied, I wonder how much it would come to. Did it have to be spent as it was?
You see Mwanawasa’s Presidency, will not be remembered for long but when it is, it will be for its scandalous wastefulness. President Mwanawasa must have known for a long time that, sooner or later, he was bound to give in to the popular demand for a constituent assembly.
He, in fact, begun by saying all he needed was a confirmation from the people via the Mung’omba Commission that they wanted one and he would give it to them. Then he began to play games. “It’s not possible because of financial cost , he said, then it was, “its not possible because of legal impediments;” and even “ it’s not possible because I do not want it.”
As he danced his merry jig around the issue, money this country can ill afford was being spent by civil society to gather the people’s voice and by Mwanawasa to counter it. The cost in time, labour and money has to be in the billions.
And this is a cost that did not begin with the final battle over the constituent assembly. President Mwanawasa begun his presidency by refusing to review the constitution at all or is it trying to ignore the matter. The Oasis Forum and wider civil society had to spend lots of money to meet him at State House and garner public pressure for a review before he finally gave in.
When he did, Levy, characteristically, set up the Constitution Review Commission in such a way that millions more would be spent by civil society in provincial forums to talk about the inquiries Act and why it was the wrong instrument to once again set up the CRC under. More money was to be spent in fights over the appointment process of commissioners.
At each point, Levy had a choice to make. Take the easier, saner, less expensive road to serve the good of all or watch unconcerned as billions were poured down the drain over a battle that did not need to be fought. We shall not go into what those billions could have been used for either in the constitution review process itself or else in service provision.
Now, one would expect that after all that he has put this nation through, Levy would by now have realised his folly, and be deeply remorseful for the senseless waste of resources he has caused this nation to suffer over its constitution. But heck no!
Just look at the statement he made:
‘There will be a constituent assembly since you want it. I really do not want it. So you will get it against my will. It will happen if money is found by government and whosoever will. It will happen if Parliament passes the law to cause it to take place but that depends on whether Parliament wants to or not.’
And so, once again, Levy makes a statement that means nothing.
Until Parliament has passed the law to facilitate the creation of the constituent assembly, nothing is certain. It is for that reason that Levy left that avenue open. The object of the statement was to announce that he is going to have the next election under the current constitution and maybe there will be a constituent assembly.
What he intended, I think, was to trick the people into relaxing their militant stance over their basic document. Levy is not entirely dull. He knew that any announcement that sounded as though he had given in on the CA would, for a moment anyway, and hopefully long enough, cause Zambians to celebrate a victory that had not happened.
There was nothing binding in his statement just as there was nothing binding in his saying I will give you a CA if you tell Mung’omba you want it.
So once again the people of Zambia may have to fight to see the necessary Bill in Parliament. They may have to fight to ensure that the constituent assembly takes place and then have to fight to ensure that it is made up of a credible representation of the various interest groups in the country.
In other words, more money will have to be wasted. That is unless of course, for once, President Mwanawasa does the right thing inexpensively. The interesting point is that the man still has a chance to rescue his presidency from an epitaph that says: Boring, expensive, wasteful, delivered nothing! Who knows what choice he will make? Maybe this time it will be different and the constituent assembly will come without further waste.
Well we know now don’t we that Levy never is going to choose a path on the Constitution that is in the best interests of this country he governs. He is chronically, almost criminally, self interested. The question that arises in my mind is, should we really as a nation continue to treat such a man with civility? At every turn he has lied to us and still we have given his presidency due respect.
It would seem to me that the Oasis Forum that called for the Red campaign last week, and all those that love Zambia should rethink their stance. We should not be waiting for Levy to lose at the “unnecessary referendum” before we demand his resignation.” Levy must be pushed to either do the right thing now, give us a constituent assembly or resign.
After all, I ask, what are we waiting for? What de we have to guarantee that even that referendum will be transparently held or its results respected. The hour has come for the people of Zambia to say Levy Mwanawasa “we have had enough of you.” The choice given to him therefore should be a constituent assembly or new elections. After all the money is there for a referendum we might as well use it for a change of a sick administration. That is my considered view
Friday, June 15, 2007
by Rajesh Makwana
Whilst the world economy continues to globalise market forces, the basic needs of humanity are still not being met, with an estimated 50,000 people dying each day, having been denied access to essential resources. In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All member states absolutely agreed that the universal provision of adequate food, water, housing, healthcare, education, political participation and employment must be the priority of all governments. After 59 years we may well have landed on the moon, created cyber technology and witnessed an information revolution, but around half the world still doesn’t have access to essential resources such as clean water, adequate food and basic medicines.
Clearly a fundamental shift in national and international social and economic policy is long overdue. Ensuring that people are not living in perpetual poverty or dying needlessly is both a moral and economic necessity for all nations. Not only would this reduce population growth but, given the level of global interdependency, any increase in human capital in any part of the world can significantly increase global prosperity.
The Need to Restructure the Global Economy
Addressing these issues at a fundamental level requires a restructuring of the global economy and a reframing of our values and priorities. By replacing the competitive interest of market forces with cooperation and sharing as a fundamental organisation and distributive process, the ‘operating system’ upon which the international economy is organised can lead to a sustainable world based on social and economic justice, thereby leading to peaceful international relations.
Sharing those resources which are essential to life - currently denied to 40 percent of the world population - can rapidly reduce poverty and inequality.
Sharing resources can also address the key economic issues of our time such as the excessive power of corporations and market forces, outdated neoliberal policy, a defunct IMF/World Bank, a biased free-trade regime, and stagnant international aid efforts. Sharing, in essence, favours the whole and not the part.
Sharing is a simple word, yet sharing essential resources will require a significant restructuring of the global economy which inevitably presents a daunting challenge.
There are some crucial assumptions that must be accepted if the international community are to consider sharing as a serious alternative to competition over key resources without being dissuaded by the sheer scale of the task ahead;
The single most important task for all governments must be to eradicate poverty, create greater equality, ensure environmental sustainability and guarantee that basic human rights and needs are secured – FOR ALL PEOPLE.
The present international political and economic architecture is unsustainable and unable to secure basic human rights. It must be restructured according to more humane values.
It is only from this position that we can move forward and propose how to create a better world.
When considering ‘sharing’ as a mechanism for organising the global economy, it is important to emphasise the universal and human qualities of the principle of sharing. Unlike socialism, capitalism or communism, sharing is not an ideology or an ‘ism’, and certainly not a concept which can give rise to a rigid set of beliefs and doctrines.
What is Sharing?
Sharing simply means ‘having in common’ or ‘using something jointly with others’, a natural human behaviour that is applied daily in the lives of most people. We all accept the need to share space, responsibilities and food on a family and community basis, but neglect to recognise that the same basic principle of sharing must be followed on an international basis.
Examples of sharing on a national and international scale include:
The Marshall Plan
After World War II, US Secretary of State George C. Marshall initiated a mammoth four-year program of aid for a devastated Europe experiencing extreme poverty, hunger and economic stagnation. The results were unprecedented. Europe quickly recovered and the positive political and economic ramifications for both the US and Europe are still observable. The Marshall Plan was an important example of how sharing resources, in this case financial resources, could benefit all parties.
Sharing can also be seen as an economic process in Latin America. Venezuela shares its oil with a number of other countries in the region, such as Bolivia and Cuba. Countries like Cuba, in return, provide the majority of doctors that work in Venezuela. Obviously sharing in this way reinforces political relationships and good will between the nations involved.
But sharing is not necessarily undertaken as a form of exchange. Venezuela also shares its oil farther afield with the poor in the US. Cuba, which boasts an excellent domestic healthcare system, is well known for sending medical staff all over the developing world. In fact they have a medical army of greater numbers than the World Health Organization.
The Welfare State
National welfare systems can also be interpreted as systems of sharing. Society pools its resources, through taxation, to ensure that education, healthcare, housing and unemployment benefits are available to all. In this way, society creates a social safety net to ensure that the basic rights and needs of the population are met.
The impetus for sharing must be altruistic, but this is not to say that there will be no mutual benefit involved. Sharing occurs as a result of an acceptance of unity or solidarity – whether between people or between nations. Importantly, sharing also has the potential of creating that same sense of unity and solidarity, in this way becoming a self-reinforcing process.
Sadly, when we look at a nation’s relationship with the wider international community, the principle of sharing is disregarded. Given the increasingly interdependent nature of the world and the globalised systems of commerce and finance, the welfare of numerous low income countries depend directly on the economically dominant nations. Yet there is no global safety net to protect poor people in these low income countries from dying of hunger, let alone provide any unemployment benefits.
Why is it that we accept access to medicine and social assistance as a fundamental right in most European countries, but we are not prepared to help create such a system on a world scale where it can benefit those who need it even more than we do? On the contrary, the global economy is exacerbating inequality and poverty.
There are, of course, a number of reasons for this. Most obviously, there is no global governance structure to coordinate such a world welfare system. The closest we have to world government is the UN system, which is sadly not provided with the necessary resources and power to enforce its humanitarian mandate.
The other reason is the nature of the global political and economic ideologies and priorities that govern the globalization process. The only truly international institutions we have are based on competitive self-interest and concerned with globalising profitable markets, as expressed through market forces. With these values as organizing principles, the sense of global unity that is a prerequisite to cooperation and sharing is unlikely to ever be established.
Sharing as an Organizing Principle in the Global Economy
The process of privatisation is at the heart of the market system. The privatisation and enclosure of common resources since the Middle Ages has steadily increased in tandem with commercialization, reaching its zenith with the enforcement of corporate intellectual property rights over forms of life such as plant species.
Apart from our global ecological system, shared resources include all creations of nature including land (and those resources land contains), water and sources of energy. The concept of the global commons can be extended to include the creations of society, particularly if these creations can be deemed necessary to meet basic human requirements – such as information about disease eradication and heath care; and technologies, such as water purification devices or communication equipment. These resources should not be permitted to be monopolized exclusively by private interests with a view only to profiteering.
Most importantly, if the world is to cooperate to ensure basic human needs are provided, it is imperative that common resources are cooperatively owned by the global public and do not fall under national interests. Without this affirmation of international unity, confrontation between nations over resources will continue. Given the uneven distribution of certain resources around the world, without an international shared ownership agreement it would be difficult to ensure basic needs are secured globally.
Rich Countries Must Learn to Live Simply
In order to share the world’s resources, rich countries must make the sacrifice of learning how to live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle, so that ‘others may simply live’. The economic and frugal use of those resources which are essential to life is a preliminary condition that a donor country, wishing to share its resources with the international community, must abide by. Many environmental organisations and NGOs like the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) have been advocating a similar position for many years.
In addition, sharing efficiently will necessesatate a redistribution of existing resources. Countries with a greater endowment of a resource must redistribute a portion of their endowment to a country where that same resource in under supplied.
Even though there is enough food produced in the world to provide 4.3 pounds of food for every man, woman and child every day, it isdisproportionately distributed - or simply wasted - by the developed world.
Over-consumption in general, although common in wealthy countries, does little to increase wellbeing of the population whilst seriously damaging the environment through the resultant CO2 emissions. Corporations have been the main beneficiaries of over-production and over-consumption, yet even their security is now threatened by the potential environmental, social, political and financial impacts which are the natural outcomes of such one-sided excess. These factors are expected to eventually catalyse public demand for change, even in wealthy countries.
Over-consuming countries like the United States must take the lead in creating the necessary change in the political, economic and social fabric of the world. They must actively redistribute the fruits of their production and contribute their expertise and labour to ensure that resources can be shared effectively. Government intervention under international mandates will be necessary to facilitate this process.
Organising Global Redistribution and Sharing Networks
It is the international community which collectively should determine which resources are essential for meeting basic human needs and must therefore be shared globally. Once decided, the sharing – or redistribution – of these resources would need to be coordinated in a logical and democratic manner.
At present, the United Nations, although flawed and impotent, is the only body which could serve as the coordinators of a global system of sharing. With an international membership and humanitarian charter, the UN system is clearly the only international body with the experience and resources to address global economic reform.
It would be necessary to create an additional body within the UN responsible for coordinating the pooling and sharing of global resources to meet the basic needs of the global public. For the time being we may call such a body the ‘UN Council for Resource Sharing (UNCRS)’.
The UNCRS would set up and coordinate a Global Sharing Network (GSN), a computerised system that acts upon information from governments around the world. The GSN would measure the changing levels of excess production in each country and then calculate how much of any resource a country is able to redistribute to another.
National governments would work closely with the UNCRS in order to provide up-to-date information about:
(a) which essential resources are available to share through the GSN;
(b) which resources the public are in need of; and
(c) the location of these relative excesses and insufficiencies.
The national government would be responsible for ensuring resources are distributed appropriately within the country, a task that the GSN would facilitate.
Networks of civil society and community groups could monitor resource levels locally and regionally to feedback information to the GSN. Members of the community could be encouraged to form local and regional assemblies to ensure the basic needs of the public are accurately represented. They could also assist in the distribution of resources received from other regions or countries. Local and regional assembly structures of this kind would also enable genuine political participation to become a reality.
How Sharing Can Benefit the Developing World
Sharing essential resources could quite simply allow some 50,000 people to live who will otherwise continue to die needlessly every day. Through the Global Sharing Network and the coordinated activity of NGOs and civil society groups, whole villages could receive enough food, water and medicine to ensure their survival.
Providing the necessary infrastructure, expertise, labour and technology would also be part of this process, to be shared by all those countries which can contribute. The necessary resources for hospitals, educational facilities and housing would also follow. The majority of these resources would be transferred from where they are in excess in the global north to where they are most urgently required in the global south.
The process of sharing basic resources in this way is a direct route to economic development. This system would ensure a ‘bottom up’ development controlled by those most affected, and not an imposed ‘top-down’ process. Financial aid would no longer be provided to corrupt governments who could squander it or use it to repay debt. Strengthening local communities in this way will empower and enable them to become self-sufficient which is likely to have significant impacts on social and political cohesion.
How Sharing Can Affect the Global Economy
Implementing a system of sharing would have significant impact on international trade, finance and development, and thereby directly affect the activities of the WTO, IMF and World Bank.
A system of sharing would mean that the majority of commodities and goods that are currently traded would instead be cooperatively owned and distributed by the global public through the UNCRS. Such resources would include energy supplies and the provision of utilities such as water, essential agricultural produce required for food, cotton for clothing, essential healthcare services, equipment and medication, essential knowledge and technology and resources for providing education. As a result, international trade in commodities and their derivatives will be significantly reduced and confined to non-essential goods.
Sharing will ensure that essential domestic needs are largely met at the local level, reducing dependency on foreign imports of essential goods. As a consequence, there would be less need for developing countries to agree to prohibitive trade agreements, whether multilateral or bilateral. This will free the population to develop their own industry and economy.
Decommissioning the WTO
Agreements relating to remaining international trade should, where necessary, be democratically agreed through the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The remaining international trade, under the auspices of UNCTAD, should utilise an inherently balanced mechanism of fair trade such as the International Clearing Union (ICU) proposed by John Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. The combination of these factors will allow the WTO to be progressively dismantled over a period of time.
Sharing essential resources instead of trading them will mean that these resources are divorced from financial markets. This will have a significant impact on these markets, dramatically reducing the amount of stock and financial derivatives related to the stocks that are traded.
This in itself will help to reduce the global financial instability that many economists and analysts believe will, sooner or later, result in an international financial crisis and economic meltdown.
Sharing resources will also mean that developing nations will require less foreign exchange in reserve as they will be purchasing fewer goods from abroad. The lack of foreign exchange is a key reason developing countries turn to the IMF for loans, which in turn leads to crippling debt.
Decommissioning the IMF
A new UN based Finance Organisation could lend money and provide the necessary expertise in a pro-development manner without crippling interest rates and without corporate or political influence. It would then be feasible for the IMF to be gradually dismantled; its sizeable assets and gold reserves can be applied to the UNCRS and UN development projects.
Development Aid and the World Bank
Unlike existing development finance provided by the World Bank, sharing would not constitute a loan or incur a debt. It would be necessary for the UNCRS to work closely in conjunction with existing UN development agencies and international NGOs to ensure that development occurs in an effective, sustainable and efficient manner.
Over time, the World Bank will be rendered largely redundant and any remaining development projects can be administered through the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and UN Development Program (UNDP). The World Bank can then be progressively dismantled.
Corporations and Market Forces
In a global economy where essential resources are shared, the primary objective would not be commerce, trade liberalisation or economic growth, but the production and global distribution of all resources that are essential to life.
As these resources will be shared, commercial interests would have no direct influence on this aspect of the global economy. Corporations would operate within this new global framework to serve the remaining economic, industrial and technological needs of society.
The removal of essential goods and services from the existing commercial trading structure does not require abolishing the market based approach to commerce altogether. To the contrary - the two models can coexist to form a modern global economy.
At the local level, it is the enterprising initiative of small businesses that allows communities to interact economically and enrich each others lives socially. Local business, whether small farms, shops, market stalls or local services are the cornerstone of society around the world and their activity must be strengthened.
The United Nations
The UN is the only global institution that is in a position to coordinate a global framework for economic reform and implement a system of sharing. If this is the case, the UN system will have to be reformed and strengthened significantly.
In particular the Economic and Social Council and UN Conference on Trade and Development would gradually resume their initial mandate of regulating the global economy – i.e. trade and finance, and the role of the UN Development Program will be essential in targeting development efforts and would also be greatly strengthened.
As mentioned above, once these UN agencies are effective, the WTO, World Bank and IMF can be gradually decommissioned. The establishment of new UN agencies to coordinate the sharing of resources and develop networks for redistribution would be an integral part of any new system of sharing.
What Will Sharing Mean for International Relations
There is no doubt that replacing the competitive self interest that exists between nations and upon which the global economy is based, alongside a cooperative system of sharing resources, will lead to more harmonious international relations.
People in developing countries will be directly aided by the ‘richer’ nations in their regions and across the world, a process that will likely create much goodwill and tolerance between and within each country. In this sense, sharing resources presents a better foreign policy tool than the forceful acquisition and conflicts over resources that are the hallmarks of the modern world.
As marginalisation decreases in the developing would, the urge to terrorise and fight against the dominant powers will most likely subside to a large extent.
It is also possible that the new altruistic ethos that sharing can encourage, particularly in ‘donor’ countries, will have a beneficial effect on social consciousness and fill the void in community relations and purpose that has grown alongside commercialisation.
The mutual benefit of sharing will be best realised once the developing world are living healthily and in a self sustaining manner. At this stage, international trade and exchange is likely to increase significantly as development proceeds and societies share their cultural inheritance.
Sharing in the way described is essentially a democratic and participatory process. Once economic and social justice has been achieved, these democratic structures can be utilised to further a nation’s integration into a democratic global community. A representative global governance structure may be a much needed side-effect of this process.
A Campaign for Global Economic Reform
The role of any campaign for sharing the world’s resources is not to dictate the terms of reform but to direct attention to what needs reforming and to propose alternatives.
Sharing provides that alternative, allowing resource allocation to occur cooperatively under the democratic guidance of the global public and entirely for their benefit. Sharing creates efficiency, not through the market mechanism, but through the reduction of over-consumption and resource depletion.
Sharing also lessens competition and promotes cooperation between nations. Most importantly, sharing can rapidly relieve poverty and reduce inequality.
Economists have long known about the antagonism between the market and the environment yet stick to the ‘market mantra’ for lack of an alternative. If the global community is serious about creating a sustainable economy and ending poverty, a system of sharing essential resources is an intensely practical and humane alternative.
Rajesh Makwana is the Director of Share The World’s Resources (www.stwr.net), an NGO campaigning for global economic and social justice.
From Innocent Gore in TRIPOLI, Libya
LIBYA has joined the growing list of countries calling for the lifting of the Western-imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe while it has reportedly refused to mediate in the dispute between Harare and London.
President Mugabe — who arrived here on Wednesday night for an official visit — held talks with his Libyan counterpart Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, during which he updated him on the situation in Zimbabwe.
Sources who attended the talks said the President told Col Gaddafi that while there was peace in the country, Zimbabwe was under threat from economic sanctions imposed by Western powers led by Britain and the United States.
These had resulted in the freezing of bilateral and multilateral aid and a ban of certain companies from doing business with Zimbabwe.
The President told Col Gaddafi that the US was seeking further ways of strangulating Zimbabwe and making available funds to the opposition ahead of next year’s elections.
Col Gaddafi reaffirmed Libya’s support for Zimbabwe on the land reform programme and called for the lifting of the sanctions.
In March, Sadc leaders called upon Britain and her allies to lift the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and avail funds for land reform.
It is understood that Col Gaddafi, who recently met outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, declined to mediate on the Zimbabwe situation, saying Libya was in support of Zimbabwe and could, therefore, not act as mediator.
Both leaders, the sources said, blasted US plans to deploy an American command force on the continent, to be known as Africom.
They said this was a violation of Africa’s territorial integrity.
They took a position that Africa should stand united to counter the growing American unilateralism in world affairs.
Col Gaddafi, the sources said, wants Africa to come up with a clear statement on the European Union-Africa Summit slated for Portugal later this year, when the continent’s leaders meet for their annual AU summit in Accra, Ghana, next month. He wants the AU summit to make a clear statement on Zimbabwe.
Libya’s Foreign Minister was recently in Portugal, where he is said to have restated Libya’s position on the EU-Africa Summit. The Portuguese Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister are expected to attend the AU Summit in Accra.
After the talks, the President and his delegation attended a dinner hosted for them by the Libyan leader.
President Mugabe is being accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Minister of Foreign Affairs Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Cde Joey Bimha, Information Secretary Cde George Charamba and other senior Government officials.
Zimbabwe and Libya enjoy cordial relations and Tripoli once came to Harare’s rescue when it faced crippling fuel shortages a few years ago.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe and Col Gaddafi yesterday held further talks on the AU government.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Mumbengegwi, who attended the meeting, the talks centred on how the AU government should be structured.
The two agreed on the roles and objectives of the AU government, and President Mugabe said there should a roadmap with certain achievable targets.
Cde Mugabe said formation of the AU government should, however, be embraced by the majority of AU member states and that there was need to convince them on this ahead of the Accra summit.
I have the following suggestions to turn Zambia around though. It isn't going to be 'easy', and it isn't going to be quick, but it will be dramatic. This manifesto concists of three simple points:
1) Government Reform
2) Economic Reform
3) Land Reform
1) Government Reform
Decentralize government. Most modern nations funnel half of their revenues into local government. Unlike this government, which seems to think a lot of unfunded mandates, budgets as well as responsibilities should be decentralized. I imagine a government system, where there are:
- 350 local government units, of
- 30,000 people each, receiving
- $1million (or more) per year, to do the following:
d) public amenities
- take basic services out of the hands central government politicians
- create government units small enough to sidestep tribalism or regionalism
- take tribalism out of the national debate by making it irrelevant in the political arena
- boost local economies, as $1 million will be spent on an anual basis
- bring government close to the people, as unlike MPs, all council business is done locally
- make healthcare and education universally available
- sidestep waste of resources at the ministerial level
- make government directly accountable for local decisions
- enable participatory budgeting
- ensure similar services being available nationwide, irrespective of the council in question
- slow down or prevent urbanisation
- help spread economic opportunity equally across the country
- prevent epidemic outbreaks related to trash collection or contaminated water
- leave some money available to solve local issues
- expedite paperwork, so that licenses, etc. can be picked up at the local council
- shorten the time it takes to set up a business
How money would be made available:
1) dismantle central government
Right now, Zambia has about 29 ministries. Most countries have about 10-12. The problem comes in the thinking that central government can solve local problems, when there are huge barriers to that happening. However, it is very easy for the President to, instead of solving the problem, simply be seen to be doing something by creating another ministry. Look how serious I am about women's issues, I have just created a Ministry for Women's Affairs. But look at the same time, how unwilling the President is to make money available at the local level. Further more, every ministry has one minister (usually elevated to Cabinet Minister), 2 deputy ministers, a permanent secretary. Then, there are district commissioners, and a whole host political positions.
2) Combating Corruption
Track the money. The government should at any time know where it's money is. Both income and expenditures should be carefully monitored and should be published on a regular basis. The prices paid for government expenditures should be monitored and made available to the public, as should government contracts. This way, the minsister or council leader can be held accountable.
3) The Mines
The mines must start paying their fair share. What is more, new deposits should no longer be sold to mining companies, but should stay in the hands of the state, to be exploited on behalf of the government, on a cost only basis. That way, the state will benefit maximally from the country's natural resources.
Apart from making sure that 1/2 or more of national revenues ($1.1 billion in 2004) are spent all around the country, and boosting local economies, there are many, many advantages over the current system. The 30,000 people size means that any notion of region or even tribe are done away with. 30,000 people is simply too small to pander to any of Zambia's 72 tribes, 9 provinces or 4 regions.
I would say that money should be collected and disbursed to both local and central government by the ZRA, which should have it's own financial police, and should routinely monitor all local government expenditures.
There should checks and balances in the system, like monitoring of local government expenditures, but also by democratically electing council leaders.
In two words, the Zambian government is top heavy. There are (I have counted) 29 ministries. Every ministry has 1 minister, 2 deputy ministers, a permanent secretary, etc. The Ministry of Local Government receives more state money than all local councils combined. And to what end? Do these 29 ministries make Zambia the bests governed country in the world? Or are 80% of the people living on less than a dollar per day?
The massive concentration on central government and government from the ministries must end, and make place for government through local government. I hope people will bring this up whenever a president creates another ministry to cater to some political hot topic issue.
2) Economic Reform
The state should own all natural resources. The time for the colonial era practice of selling concessions should be over. In fact, it would be best if selling concessions was banned all over Africa. Because this is how neocolonial elites are created and sustained. It doesn't just pander to corruption, it is corruption. Instead, the state should maintain ownership of the mines and in the very least the minerals, while exploitation should be done by private companies, preferrably Zambian, but international if necessary. These companies must run without politial appointments, and should be payed on a cost only basis, with small incentives as benchmark payments.
However, the present situation, where foreign companies own Zambia's wealth, are simply leaving the people and the country poor, and standing on the world's economic sidelines. As we all know and can attest to. This has to change. Selling off the mines was a criminal act, treasonous, and should be reversed immediately. (A massive windfall tax, strict enforcement of labour laws and environmental laws, go-slow actions on companies that will not comply, there are a myriad of legal and non-violent options for getting the mines back.)
I estimate that every year, Zambia is missing out on $1.6 billion in lost copper and cobalt sales. Compare that to the government's income of $1.1 billion in tax revenues (mostly from the huge PAYE sweated out of the workers of the country and massive, stifling taxes on legal businesses), and $600 million in donor money (now there is a humiliating term if ever there was one - Zambia is giving much more to the world than it is receiving, and yet one would never know it looking at the size of donor aid in the national budget; and forgetting the implications for national sovereignty that go with it).
Indigenous business is being stifled by massive taxation, yet foreign companies are given decade long tax hollidays to set up shop in Zambia - which neatly gets back to the original issue of the braindrain, and why this is a symptom, not a cause.
3) Land Reform
- land redistribution
80% of Zambia's agricultural land is not under cultivation, making it a major potential growth industry, one that should be exploited by ordinary Zambians, not multinational corporations. We should strive for a position where every present day subsistance farmer has access to 100 hectares, instead of the present 2-3 hectares. Less than 90% of Zambia's agricultural land is under irrigation, and yet Zambia has access to 10% of Africa's fresh water resources and is even named after one of Africa's greatest rivers.
One hundred hectares allowes a farmer and his family to earn $10,000 per year or more, from just growing staple crops, using only 50 hectares.
(Good land produces 2 tonnes of maize per hectare, which I think is still sold for $200 per tonne. 2 x 50 x $200 = $20,000, and presuming half of that is spent on operating costs, that would leave a family with $10,000 per year; compare that with the average annual wage of $280 and that would be a huge step up.)
This would have the effect of distributing wealth and wealth creation into the country side; it would eliminate poverty; it would create the need for for semi-professional jobs (doctors, laywers, accountants, mechanics, veterinarians, suppliers of inputs, teachers) in the countryside; it would slow or stop urbanisation; (in combination with a good food storage/distribution network) it would eliminate famine; it would turn Zambia into a food exporting country.
Obviously, these farmers would need some startup help, mainly with access to machinery and some education, but these businesses would be inherently profitable. There would also be more than enough room for expansion into dairy farming, cattle herding, agroforrestry, etc.
Also, only a tiny percentage of arable land is irrigated, with the rest depending on rainfall. There are two sustainable alternatives to rainfed agriculture. One, riverine irrigation - Zambia has 10% of Africa's fresh water resources. Two, rainwater catchment systems. I would suggest something like Keyline, as well as the use of swales (strategically dug shallow ditches), which slow the movement of water across the land. If you compare a rainforrest and a desert, what you are looking at is not good soil versus bad soil, but slow movement of water versus fast movement of water across the land. Plants are great at absorbing water, but the soil (humus) is even better. If land is systematically logged with water, drainage becomes very slow, vegetation can grow and protect the soil even more, and poor soil becomes rich soil.
This could be a huge works project, that would do a lot to alleviate the massive unemployment.
To get back to the land issue - the whole issue at the ministry of lands is I think hugely important, but it is also a minor issue when compared to actual land distribution. Is the situation in Zambia really so different than that in Zimbabwe - or Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia or South Africa? There has to be a distribution of (unused) land to the poor subsistence farmers, and without pay. This would be a near instant solution to a lot of economic problems. Obviously, there would have to be a continuous monitoring of possible bottlenecks in the agricultural production process (land, machinery, fertilizer, marketing, transportation, etc.) but it would be a huge new beginning.
Lastly, I think that the rest of the state's money should be used to create infrastructure - roads, bridges, large scale irrigation, etc. This would make business in the country much more feasible, and it would create huge mass employment opportunities. And none of these will come from 'foreign investors'. As the MMD, UPND and even PF seem to believe.
The above have cronicled most of the Zambia's economic/governmental inefficiencies. This is where the real opportunities lie. The waiting is only for someone who will put all of the above into action.
NOW, WHO IS GOING TO MAKE POLITICAL CAPITAL OUT OF ALL THESE OPPORTUNITIES??? :)
You have 4 years to set up a party, and run on this simple 3 point platform for the 2011 elections.
For some miraculous reason, none of the political parties are willing to go this far. They are all satisfied with their ascendance to power, without a clue what they are going to do with that power that will make a huge and positive difference to the country. Which is why people cannot make a real distinction between them. And also why there was no policy debate during the last elections.
By Fortious Nhambura
SINCE the turn of the century, Zimbabwe has been hit by recurrent droughts that have had a negative impact on the agricultural sector. The droughts have also had an adverse effect on Zimbabwe’s food reserves and food security. These climatic conditions together with lack of appropriate machinery and appropriate technology to boost agriculture production have led to increased calls for farm mechanisation.
The government has responded to these calls by creating a Ministry of Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation.
However, as Zimbabwe makes strides to boost agricultural production it should not ignore the smallholder farmer, who throughout history, has contributed to the bulk of grain delivered to the Grain Marketing Board.
To increase the participation of the smallholder farmers, whose land does not require huge machinery, the Government has — through the central bank — secured thousands of ox-drawn carts, ploughs and cultivators that will soon be distributed to all the country’s 57 districts to enable farmers to participate in the agrarian revolution.
RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono said farming implements would be distributed to deserving peasant farmers in the communal areas.
"communal farmers contribute to the country’s national food security so we decided to recognise them improve the traditional way of provision of these implements."
The central bank has placed an order for 500 ox-drawn ploughs and carts, and wheelbarrows for use by smallholder farmers, a move analysts welcomed saying it would bring the best out of the country’s communal and resettled farmers.
Analysts were agreed that delays suffered by small-holder farmers in land preparation were largely to blame for the fall in grain production.
Zimbabwe would have no problem regaining its breadbasket status if the farmers were given appropriate machinery, the analysts said.
They said Zimbabwe need not reinvent the wheel but look back to the successes recorded soon after independence when the smallholder farmer was provided with enough resources and inputs, transforming the sector into the biggest producer of maize and small grains.
"This resulted in Zimbabwe not only becoming the chair of the region’s food security programme, but also the leading exporter of agricultural products in Southern Africa," said one analyst.
As Zimbabwe mechanises its agricultural sector, it is imperative to encompass all agricultural sectors including the peasant farmer. Only when every communal and peasant farmer produces for the nation rather than for household consumption we begin to talk about being self-sufficient in food.
Soyabean taskforce co-ordinator Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki is on record as citing the lack of machinery and labour for the crop’s poor harvests.
"It is only through the introduction of appropriate technology for the smallholder farmer that the country can increase as well as safeguard its season’s production. I am grateful that the government has realised the importance of the sector," he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wilson Nyabonda concurred with Prof Mpepereki saying the national mechanisation programme would be a farce if it excluded communal and resettled farmers who produced the bulk of grain consumed in the country.
"The only way that Zimbabwe can stimulate production among all the sectors of agriculture is to enhance the communal resettled farmers in Zimbabwe," he said.
He said lack of appropriate technology and machinery had cost soyabean farmers dearly as part of their crop was now shattering or germinating while still in the fields.
With adequate inputs and equipment farmers can turn lean years into bumper harvests.
A case in point was Malawi which had transformed itself from a net importer of grain into a net exporter.
Bursting at the seams with maize surplus following a two-year bumper harvest that was premised on re-focusing its agriculture on the smallholder farmers who were given seed and fertilizer and basic farming utensils such as hoes and ploughs.
Malawi requires 2 million tonnes of maize to feed its people but achieved a 500 000-tonne surplus, which is now earmarked for export.
Evidence from the late eighties and early nineties shows a marked increase in the production of grain, beef and other crops in Zimbabwe. These were heavily buttressed by good production from small-scale and peasant farmers.
It is with this in mind that the Government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe have embraced small-scale, resettled farmers and communal farmers.
The small-scale farming implements will no doubt enhance smallholder farmers’ production.
Economic analysts said most communal farmers were eager to engage in productive farming but were often put off by the high cost of inputs and machinery.
They said no matter what incentives Government proffers to increase the production of maize and other small grains the levels would remain suppressed if the smallholder farmers remained sidelined from agricultural development.
Mechanisation will provide room for commercial farmers to devote more time on foreign currency-generating crops while peasant farmer’s concentrate on grain production for national consumption.
Zimbabwe needs 1,8 million tonnes for local consumption but production has drastically fallen over the years.
Last year only 563 000 tonnes of maize — the country’s staple food — was delivered to the GMB against a target of 820 000 tonnes. This year, Government is expected to import more than 400 000 tonnes of maize to make up for the shortfall.
As the country struggles to come to terms with the harsh realities brought about by a rapidly changing world climate, Government should focus at increasing the participation of smallholder producers in grain production.
This is the only way Government can assist noble programmes like Operation Maguta.
By Albert Nhamoyebonde
A SERIES of programmes on economic development that coincided with the celebration of Africa Day were aired recently by the BBC World Service. Of particular interest was the one on South Korea and Zambia. It was reported that when Zambia became independent in 1964, it was at the same level of economic development as South Korea.
Now in 2007, the economy of South Korea is 18 times bigger than that of Zambia despite the fact that both countries were once colonies, settled by Japan and Britain respectively.
Another example is that of Ghana and Malaysia that celebrated 50 years of independence from British rule.
Malaysia’s GNP per capita has increased from US$247 in 1957 to about US21 000 in 2006 whereas Ghana’s income has marginally increased from US$247 to US$700 over the same period.
Economic experts were asked why development in Africa has lagged behind that of Asian countries.
The reasons given for South Korea’s rapid development were very interesting. Just like Zambia, South Korea had about 80 percent of its population in the rural areas, but now this has been reversed with about 80 percent now living in towns and cities. As for Zambia, nothing much has changed.
How did South Korea achieve this?
They started their development in the rural areas. Farming was mechanised to increase production.
The country was helped by the family and community cohesion in their society. Their political system was built on a strong government backed by the army.
In Zambia, although there was a one-party state system, development in the rural areas did not receive priority compared to what the South Koreans did.
It follows, therefore, that rural development may be the key to economic development. Today, South Korea has become an industrialised country that manufactures goods in various fields from heavy machinery, cars to electronics for domestic consumption and for export.
What lessons can we learn from all this?
In Zimbabwe, unfortunately, the relocation of indigenous people from their fertile lands to rural regions with less rainfall and infested with tsetse flies was the greatest impediment in the development of rural areas.
The same could have happened in Zambia although the economic experts on the BBC programme did not address this issue. But, Zimbabwe has to start somewhere to achieve sustainable economic development.
It has to start with farming and the rural areas. Greater resources have to be allocated to these areas.
To start with, Zimbabwe has to be self-sufficient in food requirements for the population in the cities, but of greatest importance in the rural areas to control rural-urban migration, that necessitated Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order.
To start with, it is a welcome development that China is assisting Zimbabwe with tractors and other implements for the development of both commercial agriculture and communal subsistence farming.
But, this is not an easy task. Already some farmers are abusing this scheme by selling inputs like fertilizers, seed and diesel on the black market. What is required is the cohesion of our communities to uplift the standard of living of the people by expanding the economic base on the farms and in rural areas.
The major driver of inflation has been identified as the increase in food prices. This happens if there are shortages.
This was echoed by a vegetable market trader interviewed on ZTV recently, who, when he was asked about prices of various products at their market, explained the rise in prices as being caused by less deliveries of produce to the market during the winter season.
It has been said many times over that Zimbabwe’s industry can only expand if the agriculture sector is sorted out.
Asian countries have gone through this painful exercise. Recently, China removed the agriculture tax levied on rural farmers.
The farmers will now have more income to invest in their operations.
Even with its rapid economic growth in the cities, China has not abandoned its rural development programmes which were the catalyst to the economic boom the country is experiencing.
What manpower does Zimbabwe require in the rural development programmes? China, Malaysia, and South Korea deployed trained engineers, mechanics, technicians and agriculturists to spearhead the development programmes in the farming areas.
What is required is to produce surplus for export and for processing industries.
The computers that have been distributed in all village secondary schools by President Mugabe should be used to capture data on the level of production in every village, district and province.
The data would be useful to the planners and policymakers.
But, in conclusion, security is of utmost importance on the farms and in rural areas. Maybe, prosperity in these areas could be the answer.
lAlbert Nhamoyebonde is a medical scientist with the University of Zimbabwe; he can be contacted on: anhamoyebonde AT medsch.uz.ac.zw.
By Gilbert Wandi
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
I think our country is in serious state of affairs and it appears this government doesn’t seem to care for what is happening. The way things are moving just tells you that there is something terribly wrong with the Mwanawasa government in the way they are handling things that affect people’s lives in the country.
To start with he doesn’t want to go with the people’s view of adopting the constitution which we want. There have been cases of the 3 trillion kwacha stolen by civil servants reduced to K36 billion and also the K28 billion worth of drugs which are expiring and everything about this just seems to be very normal and there hasn’t been any action.
Wednesday 13th June news at 19:00 hours from ZNBC just left me annoyed and wondering as to what is wrong with this country. This is a country that is being flooded by cheap and fake things from the West and Asian countries.
We have a lot of imitations in electrical appliances, clothes, shoes, watches and even motor vehicles all being dumped in Zambia. It was reported that the Ministry of Health is withdrawing the drug called virasept that is given to people on ARVs because it has been found with compounds that cause cancer.
This is really a serious matter and the Ministry of Health should be held responsible for what will happen to the people who were exposed to this drug. Does it mean that when these drugs are brought into the country, they are not first tested to see if they are safe to be used on people? No wonder we have a lot of health complications in the country, I am sure due to some of the drugs which people are being given.
Many people on ARVs have weak immune system and here they are, subjected to a drug that can cause cancer. What is really wrong with this country?
Does anyone care for Zambians in this country? Are Zambians now being turned into guinea pigs to be used for this type of drug tests?
Tell me how many people listen or watch ZNBC news in rural areas and what will happen to those who were given this same drug to use say for two or three months? And how are we going to know the extent of damage the people who were taking this drug have been subjected to since their immune system is already weak? No one seems to be sorry for anything!
Shortage of cement
By Jenkins Chisoni,Glasgow
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
I have read two letters on the shortage of cement in our country generally and Western Province in particular and the blame being heaped on the goverment's inability to supply the commodity.
Whereas I do appreciate the writers' complaints on the matter, I wish to suggest that it is time for us Zambians to develop our entrepreneural capabilities into big industrial capital-based adventures.
Zambia is endowed with a lot of limestone, why can't we set up new cement producing companies so that we can flood the market with the commodity and at the same time provide more jobs for our people and earn foreign exchange? A Nigerian did it in his country, why can't we?
In the meantime, I would request the government to listen to the cries of the people of Western Province and do something about cement for immediate use and also provide the necessary base for joint ventures for Zambian entrepreneurs to exploit the possibility of setting up new cement companies.
By Chali Chewe
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
I have observed with keen interest some of the suggested names as to who takes over the leadership of this country after Mwanawasa leaves office and a lot of emphasis has been placed on certain individuals. Among the various reasons given for the choice are that they are young and therefore able to preside over the leadership of this country with fresh ideas.
This is perhaps where we are getting it wrong. Quality leadership is not the preserve of a particular age group or generation.
All we need is a leader who will be able to encompass the shared values, aspirations and vision of this country to a better future and the mitigating factor should not be based on whether one is 35, 55 or 75 years. To me what matters is whether such a person will be concerned about uplifting the standards of the poorest rural dweller and restoring the hopes and dreams of the entire nation.
We need a leader who is going to put the feelings and wishes of the Zambians first, instead of one who will always be seeking to be glorified by foreigners for blindly sacrificing the resources and citizens of this country to the so-called investors.
Some names being floated just happen to have leadership thrust upon them, others forced their way to the top. Some even sweet-talked their way into high office while others fought it out.
So whether young or old, with or without experience, let those who feel the calling and know that they can provide the good leadership that we deserve step forward and identify themselves to the nation.
Zesco's load shedding
By Brian Halwindi,Lusaka
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
I would like to air my grievances over the frequent disruption of power by Zesco.
It is sad and lack of human face by Zesco management to continue disruptions in the name of load shedding. There has been disruption of power almost every day and this cannot be understood by the people of Matero, Lilanda, George and Zingalume areas.
What is most unfortunate and disturbing is that power is disrupted when you have just come back from work and want to prepare supper. It’s so disturbing that after being tired with work one has to start looking for charcoal, worse still in the dark.
Since 2005, the so-called load shedding has been going on which has resulted in not only food going bad but also destroying electric appliances. What is so disheartening is that in other areas of Lusaka, load shedding is a thing of the past but one wonders why it has continued in my area.
We don't even know what is happening around the country. We are living in fear simply because even the main news on ZNBC is becoming a nightmare.
Load shedding has also affected children who cannot do their homework on time.
We are sick and tired of this trend. How I wish the monopoly could come to an end.
We demand an explanation from Zesco and what criteria they use.
Levy and referendum
By Concerned citizen
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
I wish to air my views on the current debate over the constitution. I have been following it very well. I don't understand why Mwanawasa wants a referendum when there is a Wila Mungo'mba Review Commission which has all the recommendations made by the people. The only thing here is a constituent assembly which will later be enacted by parliament. As Zambians, we should not be blindfolded because it’s obvious this goverment will bribe people if a referendum goes ahead.
We voted for this government and not them voting for us. Mwanawasa should not fear anything to allow a constituent assembly to go ahead.
If Mwanawasa dosen't listen to the will of the people, he will regret later. Mwanawasa should listen to all those calling for a constituent assembly because the Oasis Forum have been their for a decade and they know what they are talking about.
I urge Zambians to fight together with the Oasis Forum to blow off this government.
Let’s stand up and fight because a people-driven constitution will benefit us. Viva Red campaign! Viva the constituent assembly!
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
The current labour disputes in some sections of the public sector are not healthy for the country. While disputes may not entirely be avoided between employees and employers, we think that the current state of affairs - especially as we are witnessing it in some sections of the public sector - is not good for the country, especially for the economy.
Over the last few days, workers at some of our public institutions have been engaging in go-slows or complete strikes in some cases. There is no need to recount the events because we have adequately reported on them in this newspaper.
However, what worries us most is that it would appear that some of the public places which are experiencing industrial action are places where it has become the norm, rather than the exception, for employees to take strike action almost on a year-in year-out basis.
Here, we are talking about institutions such as the University of Zambia where it has become normal that if the students are not boycotting classes over this or that demand, then it should either be the lecturers and researchers or at least the general staff. Even for the judiciary, we are concerned that the administration of justice may be affected by the current action by judiciary workers.
As we have already stated, it is an illusion to expect complete industrial harmony in the economy. As long as there is an employer and an employee, there will always be some form of disputes or disagreements because each of the parties have their own interests or needs to be fulfilled or satisfied. However, when we look at the overall effects of some of these actions, it is clear that something has to be done about the situation. If we focus our attention on the situation at UNZA, it is not only students who are feeling the effects of their lecturers’ strikes.
The closure of the Great East Road yesterday morning by traffic officers greatly inconvenienced the movement of most motorists who rely on this important route. It is understood that this measure may not have been avoided as it was put in place in order to protect motorists from some stone-throwing students. We can only imagine what kind of effect the closure of this road might have had on those who were on their way to work or other errands.
In our view, the employers of public sector workers - essentially the government - need to start looking at the grievances that have been a source of confrontation with workers for many years now. The question of inadequate resources to cater for workers’ demands will always be there and employers will understandably plead with the workers on the basis of such arguments. However, workers will only be tolerant if the employer also shows that they are caring enough. And that can only be demonstrated through actions that are clearly tailored to the resolution of disputes.
In most cases, and as we are currently witnessing, workers have had to resort to the only available means in order for their demands to be met. We have observed that on many occasions, workers in this country have made calls for improved conditions of service but their polite demands have fallen on deaf ears. And since it would appear that the remedy workers have is withdrawal of their labour, they have chosen to take that route and we should not be surprised at the rate of industrial actions in the country.
The government has always been quick to urge public service workers not to take action as such actions affect productivity in the economy. This argument is neither fallacious nor misplaced. However, if the government is truly concerned about productivity among workers, then it should also be concerned about their conditions of service. The two should not and cannot be separated. It is well-known that the employer’s objective is to maximise productivity from workers while workers also want to maximise their earnings based on their input or contribution.
We think that is exactly where the line should be drawn, very clearly. In short, workers need to be motivated and their motivation will not come as a result of subjecting them to poor conditions of service. And productivity among workers can never be a result of subjecting them to poor conditions of work.
If anything, looking at most of the demands being made by the striking public workers, our view is that they deserve the attention of their employers.
The incessant confrontations between employers and employees will not help matters in terms of improving the economy of our country. And if the government is truly interested in seeing a highly productive labour force which will in turn improve the economy to the most sought after double-digit rates, then it is time attention was given to the perennial but genuine cries of the workers in the public sector.
In our estimation, the labour movement has so far done a good job in reminding the government of the need to complete some of the unfinished business in terms of improving the conditions of service for public service workers in particular and workers of this country in general. Our submission is that the government would do well to start acting on the problems that have been a source of industrial disputes in the public sector.
By Patson Chilemba
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said the ongoing go-slows by civil servants is a clear demonstration of lack of priority by those in leadership. And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) vice-president Sam Phiri said the go-slows werea result of government failing to meet its obligations.
Commenting on the go-slow by Judiciary workers and the recent go-slow by University of Zambia (UNZA) lecturers, workers at the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF) and the Copperbelt University (CBU) lecturers, Hichilema said the money that government intends to spend on unnecessary undertakings such as the referendum could be used to improve the working conditions of civil servants.
Hichilema said the delaying tactics by government especially on the issue of the constitution were denying other sectors the much-needed attention.
“It’s an opportunity cost we are paying. We are denying sectors that require help because we are not being optimal. We are very extravagant on issues. If we deal with the constitution, we shall be dealing with other issues,” Hichilema said. “The expenditures we are planning to use on the referendum, those should be applied to other areas such as remuneration.”
Hichilema said most problems affecting the nation were a demonstration of lack of priority by government.
“You don’t need enough intelligence to see that there is a problem,” Hichilema said. “We need to be looking at things like the mining sector so that it contributes effectively to the country’s development.”
And Phiri said government has failed to meet its obligations to the workers.
“Most of the problems affecting institutions like UNZA have been there for a long time, you can’t understand why government cannot take the bold step to address these problems. Government has failed to meet its obligations. They are aware of what workers want,” he said.
Phiri said there was no need for government to come up with a lame excuse that it had no money.
“Recently we had by-elections and there was no complaint about money, why can’t we also have what we need available to us?” he asked.
Phiri further accused UNZA management of provoking the go-slow by lecturers.
“As ZCTU, we attended a meeting where a technical committee made of lecturers and management and we hoped something would come up,” Phiri said. “The information we are getting is that management has been dilly-dallying. They have not released the kind of information the technical committee was supposed to be served with regarding the income and how they have expended the money.”
Phiri reminded government that good governance involved meeting workers’ demands.
Recently, workers in some government institutions have resorted to go-slows demanding improvements in the conditions of service.
Some affected institutions include UNZA, PSFP, CBU and the judiciary.