>>Plot .1 Candidates Lack Clear Value-Packed Policies<<
|Mumba, Lungu and Sinkamba|
By Nyalubinge Ngwende
We could vote to grow marijuana and get high by selling it for millions of dollars as propagated by Green Party leader, Peter Sinkamba.
Or we could all go back to mosaic times with a new Moses sent by heavens, United Party for National Development presidential hopeful Hakainde Hichilema where everything will be as cheaper as manna from heaven—cheaper fuel, fertiliser and Mealie-meal.
Or maybe we could get spiritual and kneel down to pray for a fortune, sharing in God’s favour enjoyed by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy candidate Nevers Mumba.
If not that then we could as well retain the legacy—a legacy of pissing off foreign investors with obnoxious policies while borrowing more for village universities and road-linked Zambia, yet fail to spend international bonus funds for greenhouse management due to lack of better ideas. This is the legacy on which the ruling Patriotic Front candidate Edgar Lungu is riding on.
Any of this is what Zambia expects after it goes to January 20, 2015 presidential elections caused by the death of President Michael Sata.
After listening to what our presidential hopefuls are saying, we are under no illusion to expect less economic development. This is because it is not the best best presidential candidate with best ideas who will win.
If it were not like that, then the electorates were going to listen to clear value policy messages and programmes differentiating those vying for the top office.
No one of the four mentioned candidates, including the seven others who are in the race, seems promising to do things differently.
Since it is difficult to get the presidential candidates on one platform to state their clear policies, deducing from what the hopefuls have said so far on the podium, leaves no difference in between their policies, and among them.
For example, the problem of vendors has become acceptable as our politicians confess they have ‘Nowhere’ to take the illegal traders that eke a living occupying other shop corridors to sell merchandise.
Late President Michael Sata kept the vendors because he said no one was able to tell him where to take these people if they were removed from the streets and corridors.
The United Party for National Development Members of Parliament called the President Sata ‘Chimbwi-No-Plan’ over the matter. But PF must be laughing louder because UPND presidential aspirant Hakainde Hichilema has stated that his party, once it forms government after January 20, has a ‘nowhere policy’ for vendors, but to legitimise their trade by issuing them hawker licenses.
The policy on vendors excites value conflict. When one looks at the merchandise that vendors are selling—clothes, shoes, cell phones and computer gadgets—it reveals a different story other than needing hawkers’ licences. It is about market space that is accessed by busy buyers. The question is how do you remove chaos from vending and ensure that they do not hinder trading of legitimate shop owners whose corridors they occupy.
The story of women selling second hand clothes and vegetables on the streets is also different and require a sustained action to forestall a healthy calamity.
It is not just the issue of vending that has got our politicians heads twisted on their necks, which unfortunately they cannot turn so much to have a clear view of things and what they can do to bring sanity to our streets.
Agriculture is another mind boggler. Other than the failure-riddled Farmer Input Support Programme, there seems to be no bright and inspiring ideas for the sector.
The PF government inherited the FISP from its predecessor the Movement for Multiparty Democracy and the market failures of late delivery of inputs and failure to pay farmers on time and prevent grain reserves go to waste still abound. The UPND leader during the ongoing campaign has been promising to increase the number of fertiliser bags to farmers and hardly hinted on how he will deal with market vagaries.
We are a maize growing country and will never look beyond that. As long as it stops import demand of the staple grain, there is no alternative thought to grow other things for export.
The only interesting campaign message on agriculture is the controversial cultivation of marijuana being promised by Green Party’s Peter Sinkamba.
Sinkamba is promising establishing hundreds of high security cultivation zones of the psychotropic plant, which is still legislated as an illicit drug in the country. He has a figure of 200,000 jobs to be created from the cultivation of the herb and projects an annual foreign exchange income of US$ 15 million from exporting the ‘drug’.
The economics of Sinkamba are very interesting especially that he has to tell us where he will export this primary commodity on a perfect demand and market price.
Damn it, Mr aspiring president, the world has progressed and requires sophisticated products and services than the primary commodities like marijuana. You could even think of selling everything out of this country in raw form and get the dollars, but without investment in fields that ensure sustained economic and technological viability, the US$15 million revenue is a pipe dream high on cannabis.
Although the value analysis of FISP can be agreed by many, it is frightening to see any national and international agreement over marijuana. And any slight possibility of Green Party succeeding on this one diminishes, other than our country ending up with a generation of marijuana intoxicated wrecks.
We would expect the presidential hopefuls to speak more coherently about Zambia inventing its own mobile platform to enhance communication and commerce. I am sure the youth would be happy to exert their skills in technology, other than seek happiness and depression induced by smoking a vegetable like marijuana. A few may smoke or eat it in spoon-fulls for medicine, but mostly it is for leisure, so that one sees things brighter and sharper than they are really are.
Far from being a pedant. Although growing marijuana is miles from being an economic mantra, Sikamba might deserve votes because he has shown the courage to think of one solution among many human development problems facing Zambia. The Green Party leader is better than those who think maize cultivation is the only way to reduce food inflation, strengthen the local currency and increase income per capita. It is foolish in this era to banish young people to scorching their backs in a maize field where the rewards are seasonal and it has to take insulting a dead president for them to be paid.
Sikamba is also different, but is not the best. All of them think the possibility for employment stops at the door of formal jobs—a professional job of a doctor in the huge operation room at a private hospital, or by the engineer’s pedestal or at the mahogany desk of the chief executive in multinational bank.
Mumba just wants to preach his way and lead, nothing much, while Lungu is parroting late President Sata’s same difficult policies of rent-seeking.
We cannot afford to cheat ourselves to vote for leaders who have very little to offer to the future prosperity of our nation; leaders so rigid unable to see opportunities in the music and film industry, sports and fashion apparel industries. These sectors defy defined boundaries by reaching many nations.
With the right President and government providing incentives and protection from externalities more youths could find freedom to grow wealth there.
We further refuse to cheat ourselves into hopelessness, thanking politicians with a massive vote into office and pay us back serving their wasteful interests and ends—buying expensive private Jets and Choppers to fly them over our poverty.
We will further abhor self-deceit of seeing it normal to elect a President that is over happy to get an opposition Member of Parliament defect to his party ranks at a huge cost—creating an unnecessary government portfolio and, even happier, to spend 11 billion kwacha on an induced by-election—at the huge neglect of facilities in our schools of higher learning.
Sadly as we go to the poll on January 20, 2015, we cannot cheat ourselves that we will vote for a President who will inspire this ‘Eagle Nation’ into its flight of prosperity as all the frontrunner presidential candidates are inept of valued-packed policies.