Editor's Note

Here is one major campaign issue

Get ready to hear a lot about roads! Roads constitute one of the PF government’s two trump cards in this year’s elections – the other one being the constitution – and it will waste no opportunity pointing out that it has been constructing roads and other infrastructure left, right and centre. In fact, its spokesman, Chishimba Kambwili, has just announced that the PF government has spent over $7 billion on infrastructure since it assumed office in 2011, making it sound like a good thing. Not necessarily. New roads may bring development, they may not – it depends. The problem is that government embarked on its ambitious infrastructure programmes without the money to fund them. Instead, it borrowed extensively, putting Zambia in its current economic squeeze. Driven by the personal ambitions of the PF’s first president, Michael Sata, the infrastructure programmes were initiated in a rush without proper planning, meaning that we now have many roads built at bloated prices, sub-standard quality and leading to places that seem to be of political rather than economic significance. My own road, Mungwi Road in Lusaka, had its patchwork of potholes filled in about six months ago. Yet, motorists are already back at playing a dangerous asphalt version of connect-the-dots between the potholes. Let’s hope that this won’t be the fate of all the other roads.


camilla
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • agriculture

No import of maize after all

Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda has stated that Zambia has enough maize in stock, despite President Lungu warning last month READ MORE...
  • communication

MTN to support BongoHive

MTN Zambia has partnered with BongoHive, the first technology and innovation hub in Zambia, to provide support to apps and READ MORE...
  • politics

PF to form alliance with MMD?

An alliance between the current ruling PF party and the former ruling MMD party seems likely, after the MMD’s National READ MORE...
  • development

UNZA and CBU closed

Government has closed the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Copperbelt University (CBU) – indefinitely – after students rioted over READ MORE...
  • infrastructure

Zambia gets “new” oil supplier

Following the supply of a second shipment of contaminated crude oil (see below), government has cancelled Gunvor Oil Group’s contract. READ MORE...
  • development

More pass Grade 12

The pass-rate for Grade 12 has slightly improved. General Education Minister John Phiri stated that there has been an improved READ MORE...
  • communication

HH eats humble pie

“People of Zambia must give the Post unconditional support and appreciation, because the job that they are doing for everybody READ MORE...
  • infrastructure

Kariba Dam repairs delayed

The “urgent” repairs of the Kariba Dam and its plunge pool, which were supposed to start this year, have been READ MORE...
  • government

Lungu courts Europe

President Lungu is making his first trip to Europe this week, starting in Italy on 4 February to meet Pope READ MORE...

This Week’s Exchange

Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy and international development, Birmingham University, UK, stated:

“Until now, Zambia’s progress under multi-party politics has been quietly impressive. Over the last year, though, things have changed. (…) According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops – one of the most influential bodies in the country – Zambia doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy (…) it has become a dictatorship – or getting there. Many Catholic leaders were seen to be sympathetic to the PF, when it won power under Michael Sata in 2011, so what has changed? This is not the first time that a Zambian president has sought to consolidate his authority by manipulating state institutions. Nor is it the first time that opposition leaders have been arrested, or civil society groups intimidated. In the recent past, these moments of high political tension have often been resolved peacefully, (…) but it’s unlikely that Lungu will cede his quest to remain in office. First, key civil society groups such as the trade unions have been weakened by privatisation, informalisation and unemployment. Second, the Constitutional Court, that’s responsible for interpreting the constitution, was handpicked by Lungu. Third, Lungu’s case is more complicated than Chiluba’s. In 2001, the second president had served two full terms in office and wanted one more. Today, Lungu is arguing that he should be allowed to have a third term because his first period in office did not count, as he was just serving out the final year of Sata’s term. All of this means that Lungu is likely to get his way. (…) Opposition protests are inevitable, as is some civil society criticism. If past form is anything to go by, Lungu’s government will respond with threats and intimidation.”

Ruling PF party deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri reacted:

Cheeseman is nothing but an attention-seeking professor, who thinks he can lecture us about democracy. The people of Zambia spoke through the vote, and their wishes must be respected by all, including Cheeseman. Cheeseman creates the impression that there was a letter authored by all Catholic bishops, which labelled Zambia as a dictatorship. For the record, that was an opinion expressed by the archbishop. (…) It is irresponsible for Cheeseman to compare ours with late President Frederick Chiluba’s third-term bid. The view that the current constitution allows President Lungu to seek re-election (…) is before the courts of law. (…) the PF will respect the outcome of the court system. President Lungu’s good governance record remains solid. It was President Lungu’s administration that took the referendum on the proposed Bill of Rights to the people. (…) it was UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who campaigned against it. It is President Lungu’s administration, which allowed for the 50%+1 clause in the constitution, the running mate clause, and reduction of presidential powers. President Lungu believes in an independent judiciary. (…) Today, Zambia has a Constitutional Court, something that was unheard of in the history of our nation. While the opposition petitioned the Constitutional Court, President Lungu remained calm until the matter expired. We wish to correct the view that human rights of politicians in trouble with the law are being violated. Citizens, who are also politicians, and on trial, have appeared in court within a week of being charged, and (…) for continued trial. The due process of the law is clearly being followed to the letter. Professor Cheeseman‘s daydream, that Zambia is falling from grace because of HH’s arrest, is a lie. Zambia remains a shining example of democracy not only on the African continent but world over.”