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Donald Trump and the United Nations General Assembly, by Gabriel C Banda

 

 

Donald Trump and the United Nations General Assembly,

by Gabriel C Banda

HOW will heads of state and government of the countries recently banned entry into the USA get to the United Nations?

Previously, there are those of us that wondered how international sports and culture events and interaction will be affected by Donald Trump administration’s fortress walls that have targeted persons from particular places of the world. (Some of that we had published on WordPress.com platform in February, 2017, as “Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars.”)

 

One can assume that the 2028 summer Olympics have been awarded to Los Angeles because the Olympics Organisation assumed that the Trump fortress practice and influence will no longer be in place then. These games will be the third to be hosted by that popular city.

Now, a big concern by some persons has been what the Trump doctrine and practice will mean for the United Nations Organisation, especially when all representatives of nations and societies meet.

Every year, in September, representatives, most of them the rulers, of the United Nations member governments fly to New York city, in the United States of America, to participate in the General Assembly debates. They state their country’s situation in relation to humanity.

They are coming to share with others as a common humanity. They are not going to New York because they want to go to the United States. The United States happens to have the place that hosts the event.

How many of those from Trump’s banned list will arrive at the United Nations. And how many of them will not arrive? How many will not arrive because of the ban? And, of course, there are those that will test Trump by making the trip to the New York city.

And how many will merely send other representatives to a meeting that should be represented by the most senior government official?

Of course, there are Donald Trump’s fortress and isolationist stances against core items the United Nations was founded to grow and improve. Where there should be growth in human relations, Trump is building walls against targeted peoples and religions.

The Trump spirit has even acted against Creation itself, that through his plan to withdraw from the world climate agreement. From the earth’s view, the Trump spirit should be acting as an enemy of the earth.

Trump has started to develop some trade wars against those societies appearing to prosper in their trade and manufacturing. And where many persons need to be covered with health care as Obamacare tried to do, his plans may reverse this.

Whereas the United Nations was built to put an end to the practice of war, the Trump spirit breathes fire and fury towards others it differs with. The United Nations, as I have observed with the statues at the Head Quarters, believes in weapons eventually being turned into productive ploughs.

The United Nations has many times made joint declarations and plans to improve the lot of all of us in the world through collective planning and action. And indeed, in spite of some limitations, the world is overall a more stable place than if the United Nations had not been around.

It will be interesting to see if Bashar al-Assad and others from the listed ban list will attend the United Nations General Assembly. Of course, Assad may be busy dealing with the war in Syria. But we have to observe whether those from other banned countries will arrive. It may be that the United Nations may ask for exceptions or that the Trump administration may have exceptions for those going for the UN General Assembly.

But the reaction of the excluded governments will be interesting. Some may attempt to go to New York in defiance and assertion of their right to be with the United Nations body even when they are not in good books with the United States administration.  Others may send junior persons. Yet others may not send any high ranked official and do this as a way of protest against the Trump ban.

Some officials may be exempted from the ban but will avoid going to New York as a way of making some solidarity statement in support of their fellow citizens that are denied entry.

The doctrine and practice of the Trump spirit test the United Nations in its gathering, activities, and, essentially, Purpose. Interesting issues will arise at the first United Nations General Assembly under Donald Trump’s rule.

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Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the writer is involved in the arts, social development, and is a keen observer of Conflict and Peace issues.

 

– GCB, LUSAKA. April 2017/August 2017.

 

 

 

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Inspiring Sir Ketumile Masire, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Inspiring Sir Ketumile Masire

by

Gabriel C Banda

OVER the years, many a time I told friends that I found Sir Ketumile Quett Masire an exceptional and inspiring person. Botswana’s second president was a living good example of how to relate to other persons.  A few times I have met him and interacted with him.

He has been one of those rulers, former rulers, and leaders in politics, governance, and business that do not let positions make them have some aloof attitude towards other human beings others will consider lesser.

                                                               True Strength

My Big Man Sir Ketumile Masire was just himself, without imposing airs. He had the calmness of those that have true strength and are therefore comfortable with themselves and do not need to degrade other human beings in order to lift themselves up.

The problem of abuse of authority is not confined to presidents and ministers. It happens in various positions of life. Some people will demean and dehumanise the house servants they employ to perform vital functions in the household.  Some persons will reach positions of director, permanent secretary, minister, and president, and begin to push around others they consider having low positions and status.

A major part of growing and maturing as a human being is to handle our positions with respect and without degrading other persons performing other roles. You must do your role, however high it may be considered, without falling into arrogance. A leader or ruler must first be a servant.

                                                                      Stable

In the early 1980s, my Brother and friend Theo Samuheha told me that those who visit Botswana were sometimes surprised that the President could be seen crossing a road, walking alone, to buy some items. In Botswana was some stable, secure, and relaxed politics and governance.

In 2002, I was in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States, living there as a Special Assistant to Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president, who was then the African President in Residence at Boston University.

In April 2003, some former heads of state of Africa came. At one time the team members witnessed the famous Boston Marathon. This was around the finishing point. This was the point that ten years later, in 2013, there was a bombing.

                                                                      Listening

But that time, in 2003, at some point President Ketumile Masire and his team visited us at our Bay State Road residence. And at some point, Sir Ketumile was in conversation with me. We spoke for some time. He inquired about some things. He listened to what I said. Sometimes he asked further. But he was a keen listener. Later, he made a major decision which seemed to have considered what I had said in our conversation.

Over the years, I met him again. One time, in late 2003, we were in Swaziland at the Commonwealth SMART Partnership meeting. There was some urgent item that Sir Ketumile and President Chissano, Mozambique’s Second President, wanted to work on with President Kenneth Kaunda.

President Masire saw me walking near the hotel gardens. “Angel Gabriel!” he cheerfully called out to me. After a brief discussion, he said we should immediately go to “KK,” Dr Kenneth Kaunda. He held my hand in a friendly way. Walking together, we meandered through the hotel premises, passing through gardens, party groups, diners, and others.

Dr Masire moved, oblivious of the persons around him. I do not think many persons knew he had been Botswana’s second president, the one who had succeeded the late Sir Seretse Khama and for 18 years was well known as President.

                                                                      Immediacy

We moved on, just the two of us. I do not think many persons we passed knew he was Quett Masire. Eventually, we reached Dr Kaunda. So, incognito, Ketumile Masire could move and do his needed work in many places.

Ketumile Masire was a person of immediacy. If something needed to be done or you needed to go to a place, you made it happen by doing it. Some friend of mine has said this about Mahatma Gandhi. If something to be done was discussed, it was to be implemented and, if needed, done immediately.

At various time, if he and Dr Joaquim Chissano felt they needed to meet Dr Kaunda, they would just come, without notice. Both of them had great respect for Dr Kaunda, who they had worked with closely during their presidencies when Dr Kaunda was chairperson of the Frontline States team. It seems that in that closeness, they felt they were a family with KK and did not need to give notice to meet him.

Over the years, at various times, I saw how President Masire gave respect not only to Dr Kaunda, but others in various situations. He respected those who worked with him and those who met him.

In group meetings, Sir Ketumile Masire would appear reserved, yet thoughtful and expressive in his thoughts and beliefs. He calmly expressed himself. He could take independent positions and was not afraid to speak his mind, but still politely.

                                                                Farming

Sir Ketumile, who was also well respected for his interest in farming, responded in informal manner to other persons. He was lovable. He was not one to show power over another person, even if that person did not have a highly rated position in society.

We are fortunate that there are actually other former leaders from Africa that are available in the field of humility. Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia respects those persons he meets and in return is loved by many all over the world.

Another is the Mozambique second president Joaquim Chissano. I have met him. He calmly listens and analyses situations. He will listen to others, whatever their position. He reaches out to others. He does not forget those he meets.

President Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela’s successor of South Africa, is also an analytical listener and very polite to persons of various positions. I have spoken with him and can testify his respect for others. Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania is also another person that has great humility. I have spoken with him a few times.

On the topic of listening, I am reluctant to begin talking about Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe because his fierce critics will be annoyed to learn that I found that, in personal one-to-one discussion, he actually pays close attention to what you are speaking with him, and remembers.

Like President Ketumile Masire, I am sure there are other rulers and former rulers that show great depth in their relationship with other persons.

                                                                   Others

Actually, there are many others, in various roles of life, who, even unknown by many, are great persons that are quietly doing their part, without showing off. Sir Ketumile Masire was clear example of those persons that practically live by the principle of respect for others.

Born in 1925, Ketimule Masire was an activist for Botswana’s independence. As minister, Vice President, and President July 1980 to March 1998, he greatly influenced economic, social, and political programmes that helped build current Botswana. He passed away in Gaborone in the night of June 22, 2017. Burial ceremonies have been scheduled for Thursday, June 29th, 2017.  Mrs Gladys Olebile Masire passed away in 2013. Dr Ketumile Masire’s humility and service have remained shining for all to note.

                                                                       ginfinite@yahoo.com

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                                                                      – GCB, June 2017, LUSAKA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Election Candidates and Lessons, by Gabriel C Banda

 

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UK Election Candidates and Lessons

By

Gabriel C Banda

THERE are some lessons the UK Elections of June 8, 2017 have for the conduct of elections and politics in other parts of the world.

We will now consider the leaders of the main political parties.  Prime Minister Theresa May, of the ruling Conservative Party, called for the elections after she got into office after taking over from her leader David Cameron, a fellow Conservative, who resigned after the negative result of the Brexit referendum.

David Cameron, who had expected a vote in favour of remaining in the European Union and called for the referendum, was disappointed with the “Leave” result. He could therefore not preside over the exit from Europe, an exit he opposed. Therefore, David Cameron resigned to give way for another ruler to deal with the exit.

                                                                 Brexit

Mama Theresa May is in a position of heading a government that must respond to the Brexit Referendum result requiring UK to leave the European Union. Of course, leaving Europe is very complex for Europe, UK, and others and will have effects that are likely to leave Britain worse off in various things.

After UK leaves the EU, it is almost certain that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.  There will also be complications in Northern Ireland, administratively a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland. We feel Brexit is more of a Break It.

But Theresa May is now prime minister and has, whether she likes Brexit or not, the task of following the referendum result that requires UK to leave UK. Because she must administer the exit required by the referendum, she has focussed on performing the task, whether she wants of not.

She has set her mind on doing some necessary task and role. She is making herself to flow with it. But we have to wait to find out if she will turn out like Cameron, calling for a poll and not winning it. But the elections she called are useful because they enable people, all citizens, to actually make a choice about who should be their prime minister at this time.

Of course, the elections will be more than just about Brexit.

                                                          Conservative for All?

Now, there are some issues that may be difficult for Theresa May because they are Conservative Party position and issues, not necessary that they are her limitations. It is interesting that Theresa May has, from the beginning of her rule, has called for a Britain and Conservative Party, often associated with positions of wealthy persons and the right wing striving for the exclusive, that works for prosperity for all people.

She wants to move the Conservative Party to be a party for people from all areas of life, rather than the wealthy and exclusive, so-called “elite.” She wants a Conservative Party and Britain for all.

Of course, sometimes Theresa May acts with a sincerity that can be considered naïve. At her meeting new USA president Donald Trump, one would have been careful about showing a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship with the Trump presidency.

Some people’s attitude towards her can be affected by their attitude towards Donald Trump. But Theresa May comes out as a person one may differ with over some issues but will respect for her listening to what others are saying and to her sincerity.

                                                               Jeremy Corbyn

In the elections also is my big man, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader. Just like my big man Bernie Sanders of the USA, Jeremy Corbyn is both sharply analytical and very courageous. He is fearless. And he is sincere as he speaks his message. His sincerity connects to the hearts and minds of many.

There were some persons, many from Labour in Parliament, who blamed him for what was not his fault – the “Yes” Brexit result.  They implied he did not do enough.

But Jeremy Corbyn could not do much about the result. Jeremy Corbyn did not cause the “Yes” Brexit result. Some persons, some of them Labour parliamentarians, also tried to stigmatise Jeremy Corbyn but, without much facts and basis, implying that he did not appeal to voters.

While those politicians within and outside Labour may not like Corbyn or his political positions, he actually has a lot of support with the public. The plotters of the coup plot may have envied, ignored, or underestimated Jeremy Corbyn’s widening appeal to the public.

If Corbyn’s Labour does not win the June 2017 elections, Corbyn, who was for Europe, will be saved from a very uncomfortable and complex Brexit UK delink process. If he then stays as Labour leader, he is very likely to win the next elections.

It seems Corbyn may currently be in a Win-Win situation. But, like in all elections, you do not speculate but just wait for the final announced results. In the UK, the elections are not held directly on the leaders of parties, but the leader of the party that gets the most parliamentary seats, or a coalition of parties with most seats, becomes prime minister. A victor may get the most seats but not necessarily the most votes nationwide.

                                                                   Lessons

In the June 2017 elections, there are also other contestant parties and candidates. For now, some of the key lessons are about the conduct of candidates during elections. The controversial, and cut-throat 2016 United States elections provided big contrast to the current UK elections.

The UK elections of June 2017 provide great lessons. The UK party leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, are generally, or relatively, polite. You do not hear outright insults and uncouth statements. They try to focus on policies and issues, and actually discuss those issues, even if they do not have the answers.

What I find striking is the sincerity of both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in opposition. You may differ with some things they say, but theirs are not political gymnastics to please voters. They are sincere in their discussion. They lay out their positions on issues. They are persons who have missions they feel are important for the society, not just for their personal and group interests. Their sincerity is very notable.

                                                              David Cameron

Besides the examples of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in UK there was also some good lessons from David Cameron. One of the greatest things Cameron did was to allow the decision of parliament about not striking Syria over accusations of chemical weapons.

David Cameron, who actually as a person comes out as a likeable person, respected the decision of parliament. In America, that provided Barack Obama a window to also not raid Syria.

Raiding Syria at that time could have made ISIS thrive earlier and brought about further difficulties for the Middle East, the Western World, and the whole. Syria would have become ISIS.

Earlier, David Cameron and Barack Obama had made the mistake of supporting, even if reluctantly for Obama, the war-lord Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of France’s forces, to, despite caution and opposition from the African Union, raid Libya and murder and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and regime, leading to instability that has greatly affected the world.

The 2017 lessons about sincerity of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn towards politics and governance can help others in many parts of the world. Politics would be more civilised, more cultured. UK June 2017 elections are better example in politics and governance than USA 2016. And, currently, we have not heard about some Russia conspiracy to hack into the UK Elections!

ginfinite@yahoo.com

The Author: Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Gabriel C Banda is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues.

*

– GCB, June 2017.   At Wednesday, June 7th 2017.

 

 

IMF and Zambia, 30 Years Again, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Zambia and IMF, 30 Years Again

By

Gabriel C Banda

MAY 2017 has been exactly thirty years after Zambia broke away from a harsh IMF-World Bank economic “Structural Adjustment Programme.”

In May 1987, President Kaunda announced that Zambia’s government was stopping the IMF, International Monetary Fund, Structural Adjustment Programme. It had been harsher than expected.

There had been much suffering. The quality of life of most people had worsened. Malnutrition had increased. Many persons had died due to the conditionalities. There was social tension. Riots related to food prices had occurred in December 1986. From the food protests and riots, some persons had died.

Women and children were particularly affected by the harsh conditions. Dr Kaunda had started off hopeful about the IMF programme but the nation had found it very destructive. Some gains made from independence on basic needs for all were being reversed.

Shylock

The debt conditions were like those of Shakespeare’s Shylock, who insisted on taking both flesh and blood, the lifeline, as debt service. Taking flesh and blood would kill the borrower.

Dr Kaunda announced that Zambia would embark on its own Economic Recovery Programme. The programme would be a “home grown” one sensitive and relevant to the local situation. It would be more friendly and at a stable pace.

Debt repayments ratios would be reduced so that Zambia had something for meeting basic needs instead of servicing debt to IMF, World Bank, and creditors at high ratios to national income.

Alternative

IMF, World Bank, and their allied institutions and governments, including Sweden and Norway, the Nordic normally friendly to Dr Kaunda and Zambia, were unhappy about Zambia breaking away from the IMF programme. They said there was no alternative to the harsh IMF-World Bank programme.

Although Zambia made some gains in its own economic programme, IMF and creditors came down very heavily on Zambia’s government. Sanctions were imposed on Dr Kaunda’s government.  Zambia did not have support from other debtors and partners and was thus compelled to get back to an IMF programme.

At that time, the economic powers were not as now and IMF and allies dominated and controlled the much of the lending and debt of many nations.

Riots

Under IMF and World Bank dictatorship, the economic adjustment programme continued to be harsh, leading to further food riots and deaths in June 1990.   As a result of suffering and discontent arising from the IMF programme, in June 1990, there was a coup attempt. The coup attempt failed but things were never the same again in politics and economics.

By the October 1991 elections, Dr Kaunda’s UNIP left office, letting in the MMD government of Frederick Chiluba. As in other places, an IMF programme had led to regime change. IMF was interested in governments that would follow its economic programme, however harsh the effects of the imposition.

From late 1991, the MMD government deeply embraced IMF. Again, for most people, poverty increased.

The IMF aggressively tried to promote private business and control and undermine public enterprise. Public enterprise can be through projects like state owned parastatals and cooperatives.

Yet for the health of a society, we believe that both private and public enterprises are necessary and must respect each other. There must be fairness for both business and members of the public. It is healthy to nourish both individual creativity and public enterprise.

Decline

The IMF economic policies of the 1990s led to the decline of local industries, enterprises, and formal sector employment. Local economic production was being dismantled in a de-Africanisation process.

Zambia became a market for externally produced goods, much from a South Africa just making its transition from apartheid. All sectors of society were greatly affected. And Zambia’s external debt was still very high.

These effects also happened in other places, and continents, the IMF programme was imposed in. Poverty increased. Many persons died. The quality of life declined. The integrity of society and life itself were greatly affected.

Regime Change

And there was regime change, with those getting into office being pro-big business and pro-IMF.

A global campaign against debt conditions helped Zambia and other governments with some relief in debt service. Key amongst the campaigners against debt conditions and unfair debt service was the Jubilee movement. Church and Civil Service Organisations and NGOs were major drivers of the world-wide Jubilee campaign.

Thirty Years, Now

Now, May 2017, exactly thirty years after President Kaunda’s courageous but foiled attempt to move away from a harsh IMF programme, and years after the success of the anti-debt campaign, Zambia and IMF have been preparing for an IMF economic programme.

Lessons Ignored

The lessons of Zambia and many governments of the world over the years are being ignored. Even more recent is the example of Greece, which has had huge difficulties with IMF and creditors.

Over the past two years, there have been discussions and preparations for an agreement. Signs can be noted with the recent, May 2017, introduction of IMF insisted increase in energy tariffs.

World Bank and IMF have already penetrated, and now influence, electricity production enterprises, such as members of the Southern African Power Pool, and energy regulator members of the regional RERA, Regional Electricity Regulators Association, Southern Africa.

World Bank has some projects in these, thus, as an opponent within, devouring and influencing things from within, moving the energy sector towards the IMF and World Bank vision. As before, World Bank and IMF use institutions, agents, and networks within countries to influence things in some desired direction, even if it is against the interest of the Common Good.

                                              Silent

Whereas Civil Society members were critical before and fought for the Common Good, they have now, as with “regulators,” been penetrated by IMF and World Bank. Some receive funds and resources from World Bank or associates of World Bank. Our Brothers and Sisters are now silent as IMF moves against the public.

More serious, they sometimes have voiced support for the IMF and World Bank programmes. They will also say, falsely, that there is no alternative to the programmes and to funding.

Foothold

Meanwhile, to get some foothold, World Bank has needlessly provided government with grants and loans for projects governments can do by themselves or find alternative sources with fair conditions.

The influence of IMF and World Bank will lead societies towards a vision of big business and business leaders controlling governments and politics. For Zambia, this will lead to the pre-1924 situation, where big business ran the country.

Again, after the experiences of Zambia and others, at this time when there ARE alternatives to IMF programmes and resources, why should Zambia go back to Shylock? After surviving Shylock, why would someone agree to go back to Shylock and the knife that will devour both blood and flesh?

Negative Enterprise

Sadly, Zambia’s Finance Minister Felix Mutati has expressed confidence in an IMF programme. He says it will be home-grown. This may turn out to be a naïve, even if innocent or sincere, approach.

One is not sure Felix Mutati has appreciated the tactical complexity of the IMF and World Bank negative enterprise.

I do not think Greece, from their current experience, and others would agree that IMF and creditors will allow a programme that deviates from the IMF script and template.

We wonder if IMF will allow Zambia’s government to change things according to the way things are turning out.

Future Generations

For some $1.6 billion only, the welfare and harmony of Zambia’s people and future generations are likely to be sacrificed to Shylock.

Felix Mutati should realise that, trying to deliver Zambia to IMF, he will bear responsibility for the harsh effects of the IMF programme on the society, now and in future.

From the IMF programme, what might develop in Zambia? The possibilities are that there will be hardship on the wider society. Increased energy tariffs will lead to higher costs of goods and services for the public. The various economic conditions will lead to difficulties in various sectors of life. People will be unhappy with the government.

Because of the effects of the IMF programme, the position of President Edgar Lungu and his administration will be shaky as 2021 elections approach. Some candidates favourable to IMF, World Bank, and big business will become prominent on the scene.

Those men and women may emerge from within the ruling PF party, the government, from other political parties, or from other sectors, such as business and finance.

BSA

The desired IMF-World Bank programme direction will be towards Zambia as at the time of BSA Company, although in some other forms but under the same principle of control of politics by big business. Yet there are alternatives to IMF and its negative programmes.

In May/early June 2017, when the attention of most Zambians was on the Under-20 soccer World Cup event in Seoul, South Korea, and where the Zambian team was heavily rated, the IMF team came into Zambia towards finalisation a loan agreement.

In March 2017, the IMF team also came around when people were busy on the Africa Under-20 tournament in Lusaka.

Reversing Africa’s advances

Now, the month of May enables people in Africa to pause and deeply reflect on Africa’s freedom struggles. To fix some IMF deal that reverses Africa’s advances and compromises the future is of concern.

Thirty years later, in 2017, the experiences of the government of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, other places, and the Jubilee Campaign should not be in vain.

*     Gabriel C Banda, May 2017, LUSAKA

The Author is independently involved in Writing Arts, Social Development, and observation of Conflict and Peace processes.

Following below, we share some more detailed writing we have previously done and published, among many others, on Zambia and its relationship to IMF and World Bank programmes. “IMF and Zambia, Mission March 2017,” came out on WordPress.com, at gabrielbanda.wordpress.com.

 

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IMF and Zambia, Mission March 2017

by

Gabriel C Banda

WHILE many people have their attention focused on the Africa Under 20 soccer tournament taking place in Zambia, the IMF team has come back to Lusaka, seeking agreement over financing Zambia’s government.

As before, the arrival of the International Monetary Fund team will have great implication on Zambia’s economy and the current and future quality of life of Zambia’s people.

It will also enable us to understand how much has been learnt, or not learnt, or even unlearnt, from the experiences Zambia has had, over the decades, with IMF and its twin sister, or brother, the World Bank. It will show how much institutional and collective memories are utilised, or not utilised, in dealing with current issues. It will also reveal IMF and World Bank tactics.

                                                     World Bank, 1950s

Zambia’s relationship with the World Bank was already there in the 1950s, before independence, when Zambia was still Northern Rhodesia and neighbour Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia. There were some farming programmes supported.

But the big one, in 1955, was also one of the biggest in the world. This was the joint Southern Rhodesia-Northern Rhodesia Kariba Dam and hydro-electricity project, put on the Zambezi River bordering the two territories, and opened 1959. Kariba was then the biggest financing ever by the World Bank in the world.

There was a better site, at Kafue Gorge, in Zambia, yet a very costly and environmentally and socially damaging Kariba project was preferred. In 2017, close to sixty years after opening, Zambia and Zimbabwe began programmes, externally financed, to pay for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam wall.

(We have already written about the IMF and Zambia’s energy programme and how the World Bank, to support Zambia’s dependence on Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, tried to prevent Zambia building the Kafue Gorge power station and, just after 2000, IMF and World Bank prevented Zesco from building some electricity generation projects, thus contributing to the vulnerability recently experienced, in 2015/2016, due to low rainfall.

IMF and World Bank are trying to promote and impose energy sector arrangements that are unstable and are costly for users. Throughout the region and beyond, IMF and World Bank have promoted, and are actually imposing, some invalid basis for the increase of household electricity tariffs).

                                                                Enter IMF

While the relationship with World Bank was earlier, Zambia’s membership of the IMF began in September 1965, shortly after Independence, October 1964.

For many years, the Zambian government did not borrow from IMF. From its own programmes following independence, Zambia had made advances in various basics, like education and training, health, and infrastructure. Quality of life increased. Life expectancy increased. Much of the resources were from Zambia’s own, with some support from partners in the West and the East.

While independent Zambia had some few helpful projects financed by World Bank on basics like shelter and schools, the first IMF lending to Zambia was linked to balance of payment pressures brought about by the Zambia-Rhodesia border closure of January 1973.

                                                                  Southern Africa struggles

Zambia, supporting independence and freedom movements in Southern Africa, was then implementing various international sanctions on neighbouring Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. Zambia, with its big development programmes, had its economy greatly affected by the impact of the struggles for independence and freedom.

Apart from the effects of the freedom struggles in Southern Africa, Zambia was in the 1970s affected by increase in price of fuel imports. The Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 had effects on the worldwide price of petroleum. Zambia also had reduced income due to low copper prices. Zambia’s balance of payments was thus by the various factors affected.

Zambia then took its first IMF facility, of 19 million SDR (Special Drawing Rights) soft conditions loan. This was equivalent to K14.75 million Zambian currency or US $22.92 million. (The Kwacha was then stronger than the US dollar).

Then in the mid-1980s, an IMF Structural Adjustment Programme came into effect. It was meant to help pay external debt and harsh “austerity” conditions were put into place. President Kaunda pleaded for patience from the public, saying the sacrifice from austerity would lead to things getting better.

                                                                  Conditions

The IMF market forces and commercialisation programme came with particular conditions that restrained various activities. There were measures that liberalised the finance environment. Subsidies and public spending were reduced or removed. State firms were to be privatised.

Wages were frozen.  As a way of reducing costs in public service, retrenchments were done and retirement age brought forward to 55 years. Workers in government, councils, and parastatal enterprises were retrenched. Staffing establishments were reduced. These measures were to later affect institutional memory and capacities in many fields.

Schools and other institutions had maintenance staff laid off.  Councils had their staff reduced. Some important fabric components like Community Development and garbage collection were eventually reduced and even disbanded.

(The reduction of council capacities contributed to the 2017 situation were households are throwing garbage within their premises and residential areas because the commercialised and privatised garbage system is not working well for most.

Before commercialisation, garbage collection fees were added to the rent and councils, who provided the garbage service, were generally performing better in that than what is happening now. Garbage collection is a Common Good that cannot be easily carried out just by profit motivation).                             

                                                              Surgeons not Butchers

But by 1987, in Zambia, the IMF medicine, or surgery, was destroying the patient!  A true surgeon is not a butcher.  And a butcher is not a surgeon.

Thus, in May 1987, due to the worsening negative effects, President Kaunda, to prevent further destabilisation of the society, announced that Zambia was breaking away from the IMF programme while still remaining a member of the organisation.

Dr Kaunda said there was to be a home-grown alternative programme. The local “New Economic Recovery Programme” was in place in 1988. Some advances were made. But IMF, World Bank, and allied governments and institutions said there was no alternative to their killing medicine and surgery and imposed sanctions.

Through sanctions and pressures by IMF, World Bank, and allied governments, President Kaunda’s government was in 1989 forced back to some IMF programme relationship.

The hardship continued. In June 1990, with riots as a result of the IMF programme’s impact on food and basic needs, there was a coup attempt.

President Chiluba’s government that followed in November 1991 was more open and willing towards the IMF programme. In the 1990s, the programmes created much hardship in the general population.

The impacts of the 1980s and 1990s still live on in Zambia now and are in our lives in various sectors. Dubious “Health Reforms” led to the exclusion of many persons from health services and death and suffering of many persons. Maternal deaths increased. Malnutrition increased. Life expectancy declined.

                                                              HIV and IMF

The combination of IMF economic Structural Adjustment imposition with the emergence of HIV and AIDS had deadly impact.

                                                         De-industrialisation      

As in other places of the world where IMF imposed its measures, as a result of the programme, and by intention of the programme, employment in the “formal” sector reduced. The programmes led to some de-industrialisation of some societies and de-Africanisation of enterprise ownership.

                                                                Cohesion

Apart from many persons dying as a result of the measures, many persons and families went into material decline and poverty. Social stability was shaken. And social tension increased. Social cohesion was put under pressure and declined.

Many persons died as a result of the IMF measures. Protests and riots happened, with violent deaths arising. The combination of SAP measures nourished corruption.

The capacities of societies in various fields have declined. In various sectors, Zambia’s current capacities are lower than they would have been without the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes.

The IMF programmes, forcibly imposed, have been instruments of violence.  They fight the balance and integrity of life.

                                                                      Regime Change

In some places, IMF programmes have, through economic pressure and hardship, led to regime change. Governments have been voted out or removed in other ways. In Zambia, there was, in 1990, a coup attempt following riots over high food prices brought about by the IMF programme. The economic hardships experienced contributed to UNIP losing office in the elections of October 1991.

Some rulers agree to the dictatorial IMF and World Bank imposition because of fear of being removed from office.

IMF and World Bank have leaned towards politicians that can deliver economic policy and practice environments favourable to IMF and World Bank “market forces” and strong pro-business positions. Yet, we believe, both public and public sectors are needed in a healthy society.

                                                                Big Business

An extreme and strong pro-business direction may lead Zambia to the situation before 1924, when big business, the BSA Company, was government. Big business in control can decide who rules or controls a country.

                                                             Greece, Disastrous

But even when their programmes have created hardship, IMF and World Bank move away from responsibility and put blame onto the victim government and society. The IMF and World Bank enforcers have been unrepentant.

Overall, there have been bitter experiences with IMF programmes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and even Europe, in places like Greece.

Greece Minister of Labour and Social Security told BBC Hard Talk in March 2016 that while other lenders have been considering better and more socially sustainable economic and debt measures for Greece, the IMF “insists on further measures. And it is now the IMF which is isolated, not us.”

Continues George Katrougalos: “I have the conclusion that the austerity policies applied last five years were really disastrous and we must change the mix of these policies…”

                                                              IMF in Zambia, Now

Over the recent two years, IMF and World Bank have tried to reach out to Zambia and hook a programme. There was time, especially before the August 2016 elections, those in authority, knowing the consequences experienced in Zambia and elsewhere, were cautious or even reluctant about getting involved with an IMF programme.

But IMF and World Bank are still reaching out, although they will turn things around and say the Zambian government is the one driving the interest to have assistance from them.

This will be helped by local officials calling an IMF programme “home-grown.” If an agreement is made, we do not know whether it will really be allowed to be locally visioned and driven. How far will it differ from IMF templates?

Will IMF sit back and allow Zambia’s government to drive the programme? We do not know to what extent IMF and World Bank will drive it, directly or working at the back as puppet masters. Why don’t IMF and World Bank let local persons, and whoever the local persons decide to work with, to drive their governments’ programmes?

The IMF and World Bank have taken advantage of some errors or inappropriate or inadequate decisions and actions made affecting finance and resource management after President Sata and the PF came into office in 2011.  But, we believe, the errors and their effects can be dealt with and society healed and balanced without going into some IMF programme.  An IMF programme is likely to destabilise the society.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thirty Years Now

May 2017 marks some thirty years since Zambia’s abandonment of the harsh IMF programme.

We must accept that many persons now do not recollect the harsh mid 1980s experiences invoked by IMF and World Bank conditions. Some have forgotten, or let go, the pain and anguish. Some, a huge number, only hear stories from older persons.

Some of these persons currently are in some positions of authority and take lightly the idea of implementing IMF programmes. They do not realise or know that the measures have led to death, riots, social turmoil, and reduced capacity in many parts of the world.

Some members of staff of IMF and World Bank may not be aware of their employers’ role in bringing about great negative impact through imposed policies. Not knowing the results of the actions they are working for, a danger is that they will continue contributing to the same problems their institutions have been growing.

Ill advice from IMF and World Bank, perhaps by persons with, at best, poor understanding of local situations or incompetence when related to the situation, and, at worst, following negative interests, led to inappropriate IMF measures that greatly affected quality of life and capacities of societies.

                                              Organised Hold

The IMF and World Bank continue to have influence on governments through some very organised ways. They have cultivated some sympathisers and agents, in key positions, who will influence their governments and institutions to have relations with IMF and World Bank, even where it is not necessary and will lead to negative consequences.

The IMF and World Bank have put a foot hold into governments by continuing to provide small loans and grants that enable them to stay around and have presence in government policies and programmes.

In Zambia, and other places in Africa, IMF and World Bank have penetrated the energy sector, with its huge potential, and are trying to influence it, even by doing projects with energy generators and energy regulators.

IMF and World Bank are compromising energy regulators, to switch off their role dealing with fairness between energy providers and users, so that the desires of the IMF and World Bank machine are imposed, leading to control of the energy sector by those friendly to the spirit of IMF and World Bank.

                                                                  NGOs

And years before, NGO and Civil Society organisations, including churches, were active in issues of people’s quality of life and did much to campaign against debt conditions. This was done, and to some extent achieved, through activities like The Jubilee Campaign.

These days, civil society and NGO organisations are silent on the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes. Some civil society and NGO organisations receive funding for their activities and thus will not criticise IMF and World Bank for impact of their programmes. They are embedded with IMF and World Bank.

Some organisations do not only avoid criticising IMF and World Bank, but will actively support the imposition and implementation of IMF and World Bank programmes. They will side against governments and take IMF and World Bank as their kith and kin.

Sad is that IMF and World Bank come back and forth and many times do still manage to hook governments into activities that are destructive of economies and society. IMF and World Bank bondage techniques continue to work, leading to enslavement of governments and needless hardship in societies.

Sad that those who survived the shackles and sharp blade of Shylock the money lender will some years later go back to the same Shylock, who still insists on the pound of flesh that will also drain blood from the organism.

                                                               Alternatives

Actually, there ARE alternatives, if you open up your mind. There are alternatives to IMF and World Bank programmes. And there ARE alternatives to getting support, lending or grants, to move out of economic situations. The situation now is not that of the 1980s and 1990s IMF and World Bank monopoly and bullying.

But as IMF and World Bank fear that more and more persons and governments will be seeking assistance and links elsewhere, they are getting more active in reaching persons and institutions they can use to influence the direction of governments and societies.

And a question must continue to be asked: with all hardship from the IMF and World Bank programme self-evident over the decades, and knowing that implementation is even dangerous for their societies and governments, and added the fact that there are alternatives to the conditions and partner helpers or lenders, why do governments still, even in 2017, go to IMF and World Bank for borrowing?

As the Africa Under-20 soccer tournament progresses in Zambia, let us also keep our focus on the IMF-Zambia ball play.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

February, 2017, LUSAKA

 The author is involved in Writing and the Arts, Social Development Work, Social Research, and observation and analysis of Conflict and Peace issues. For over three decades, he has researched and written extensively on basic needs and economic policies, including economic adjustment programmes. This piece is some summary of the writer’s more detailed writing on the issue. 

Zambia, Independence and Elders Pensions, by Gabriel C Banda, (a Reprint)

AT the recent, May 13 2017, funeral of Mama Salome Chilufya Besa Kapwepwe, President Edgar Lungu rightly bemoaned the material situation of many persons who fought for Zambia’s independence. He called for them to be appreciated,and supported, while they are alive.

I suggest that, a) the situation of freedom fighters must be worked out and solutions found.  This, perhaps requiring complex solutions, will cover all those involved in the fight for independence. The complex situation will have practical solutions that will include establishing what type of support and activities can be established to support them now.

And, b), In the meantime, a more immediate and less complex task is to redress the situation of those that were unfairly denied pensions and benefits when the Chiluba administration took over office in November 1991 and cancelled an existing pension scheme for leaders, thus putting many who served as full-time staff  in the unified government-and-party under material stress.

This task is about reparation and restoration. It is about the right of workers to benefits that are gratuity or pension related. The task is easier to deal with. The solution can be some one time payment/compensation or series of payment or other benefits negotiated with those who were retired and had pensions revoked. To follow up on this issue, I reproduce the following piece I wrote, published as “Zambia’s Independence and Our Elders Pensions,” by WordPress.com, October 2016. Please read and share. Thank You. GCB, May 2017, LUSAKA.

 

Zambia’s Independence and Our Elders Pensions,

by Gabriel C Banda

OCTOBER is another opportunity to deeply express appreciation and reflect on Zambia’s Independence journey. Many persons, from various walks of life, and from various places, worked for the Independence of Zambia.

And since Independence, 24th October 1964, up to present times, many persons, from various backgrounds, have contributed much in nourishing the vision and achievements of our society.

October 2016, 52 years from Zambia’s independence, is another time to reflect on the current situation of Zambia’s Freedom Fighters. Our focus for now is on the situation of those who took up public office. As we remember to praise those that fought for Independence and are still around, let us consider how their situation is and how it has come about.

Yes, there are many persons, thousands and thousands, into millions, that got involved in the struggle, with some being leaders that helped to organise it. There was much suffering and contribution during the journey for Independence.

After Independence, some became officials in the ruling party and the government. Some persons had, for reasons like that of being young then, not been actively involved in the struggle but became workers and officials in the government and the ruling party.

Zambia started off as a multi-party system but, due to various factors, among them the solving of inter-party violence, in 1972 transformed into the “One Party Participatory Democracy.”  Many observers make the mistake of not distinguishing the reasons, type, structure, and systems involved in particular one party systems. The one party experiences were not the same.

In Zambia, the One Party state system, unlike in some other countries where there was banning of other parties, was actually some unified party system. Those from ANC and the ruling UNIP, many of who earlier before Independence had belonged to the same party ANC, were integrated. It was a form of Government of National Unity, a system recently more recommended, even temporarily, in various parts of the world, especially where there is great tension, conflict, and division.

There is no doubt that the merger helped deal with the problem of inter-party violence and tension. MPs and position holders concentrated on dealing with issues in their communities and the whole society.

-For persons of various backgrounds and places, the “One Zambia, One Nation” national motto was taking shape. The position of women became stronger in politics, society, and the economy, with women leading various directions.

-Also supporting this was the “Zambian Humanism,” a form of South Africa’s Ubuntu but much more practically and systematically organised. These were part of the foundation that has, through year 2016, made Zambia continue with relative cohesion and withstand big pressures where other nations have been shaken and destabilised.

This system unified the Party and Government structures. Officials, full time and voluntary, were greatly involved in public mobilisation and participation. Towards the end of the one party system, a leaders Pension and Benefit system was put into place to cover the public officials playing various roles.

There were advances made under Zambia’s One Party system. Of course, it had its challenges and limitations.

In December 1990, after calls for return to a multiparty system, President Kaunda signed away the One Party system, repealing Article 4 of the Constitution. He signed, putting aside the need for doing the planned Referendum. Going back to a multi-party system offered potential advancements in some aspects.

In some way, the One Party system experienced in Zambia had enabled some social cohesion that made it easier for persons of various backgrounds to go into political parties in relative unity. The system had enabled some level of togetherness available for respect for one another during a return to multiparty systems.

As preparations and campaigns for multiparty elections intensified, some officials in opposition said that when they took over government, they would make sure members of UNIP did not get any pensions. The opposition politicians in MMD openly pledged this at public rallies. They said they would push aside the benefits and pensions of UNIP officials who worked in the Party and the government.

Some who publicly pledged to ensure those from UNIP would not be paid pensions and benefits were even lawyers. The basis upon which they based their opposition to pensions of the targeted workers was not clear. The pledge not to pay benefits was openly repeated at rallies, such as the one at Woodlands Stadium, Lusaka.

As Zambia moved towards the elections, it was clear that some things had not been clearly settled. These included issues of distinguishing and apportioning assets of UNIP and Government. The leaders’ Pensions and Benefits were not discussed. It was assumed that, even with the words of MMD officials, the law would still continue and have the pensions administered.

Elections were held in October 1991, with Frederick Chiluba’s MMD taking over from President Kenneth Kaunda’s UNIP. Over the 25 years, there are some things that have worked better than were things at the time of the One Party state. Yet there are also things that have declined.

Among the negative legacies of the Frederick Chiluba MMD rule was the violation of the basic rights of those officials who worked in UNIP and government. Immediately upon coming to office, the MMD administration, true to the pre-election vows of its officials, nullified the Leaders Benefits and Pensions law.  That action displaced into hardship many workers and officials. President Kaunda was for some time also affected.

Although, under international pressure, some adjustments were made for Dr Kaunda, and that after much suffering, the benefits of other positions were not re-instated or even settled through negotiation. Many officials who served government before 1991 have continued without pensions. 25 years later, in October 2016, this wrong, this violation of human rights in the name of politics, this evil against the elders, has not been corrected.

Presidential and other officials’ pensions are designed to make leaders concentrate on their jobs. They should not in future suffer because of their contribution to society. The presidency and government jobs should not just be for those who are already rich.

Also, giving Presidents and ministers and other officials good pensions helps prevent corruption and unfair practices for financial and resource benefit. Of course, there is need to put parameters and limits around Presidential benefits, such as the value of the house being built, but not to remove the benefits.

For now, as we remember October and Independence, let us consider the plight of those leaders and officials that were unfairly put into hardship because of the bias and hatred of those who came into office. It is time to settle the issue of pensions and benefits of Zambia’s government officials.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

G C B,   October 2016, LUSAKA.

IMF and Zambia, Mission 2017, by Gabriel C Banda

gcb-jan-2015_cpy

IMF and Zambia, Mission March 2017

by

Gabriel C Banda

WHILE many people have their attention focused on the Africa Under 20 soccer tournament taking place in Zambia, the IMF team has come back to Lusaka, seeking agreement over financing Zambia’s government.

As before, the arrival of the International Monetary Fund team will have great implication on Zambia’s economy and the current and future quality of life of Zambia’s people.

It will also enable us to understand how much has been learnt, or not learnt, or even unlearnt, from the experiences Zambia has had, over the decades, with IMF and its twin sister, or brother, the World Bank. It will show how much institutional and collective memories are utilised, or not utilised, in dealing with current issues. It will also reveal IMF and World Bank tactics.

                                                     World Bank, 1950s

Zambia’s relationship with the World Bank was already there in the 1950s, before independence, when Zambia was still Northern Rhodesia and neighbour Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia. There were some farming programmes supported.

But the big one, in 1955, was also one of the biggest in the world. This was the joint Southern Rhodesia-Northern Rhodesia Kariba Dam and hydro-electricity project, put on the Zambezi River bordering the two territories, and opened 1959. Kariba was then the biggest financing ever by the World Bank in the world.

There was a better site, at Kafue Gorge, in Zambia, yet a very costly and environmentally and socially damaging Kariba project was preferred. In 2017, close to sixty years after opening, Zambia and Zimbabwe began programmes, externally financed, to pay for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam wall.

(We have already written about the IMF and Zambia’s energy programme and how the World Bank, to support Zambia’s dependence on Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, tried to prevent Zambia building the Kafue Gorge power station and, just after 2000, IMF and World Bank prevented Zesco from building some electricity generation projects, thus contributing to the vulnerability recently experienced, in 2015/2016, due to low rainfall.

IMF and World Bank are trying to promote and impose energy sector arrangements that are unstable and are costly for users. Throughout the region and beyond, IMF and World Bank have promoted, and are actually imposing, some invalid basis for the increase of household electricity tariffs).

                                                                Enter IMF

While the relationship with World Bank was earlier, Zambia’s membership of the IMF began in September 1965, shortly after Independence, October 1964.

For many years, the Zambian government did not borrow from IMF. From its own programmes following independence, Zambia had made advances in various basics, like education and training, health, and infrastructure. Quality of life increased. Life expectancy increased. Much of the resources were from Zambia’s own, with some support from partners in the West and the East.

While independent Zambia had some few helpful projects financed by World Bank on basics like shelter and schools, the first IMF lending to Zambia was linked to balance of payment pressures brought about by the Zambia-Rhodesia border closure of January 1973.

                                                                  Southern Africa struggles

Zambia, supporting independence and freedom movements in Southern Africa, was then implementing various international sanctions on neighbouring Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. Zambia, with its big development programmes, had its economy greatly affected by the impact of the struggles for independence and freedom.

Apart from the effects of the freedom struggles in Southern Africa, Zambia was in the 1970s affected by increase in price of fuel imports. The Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 had effects on the worldwide price of petroleum. Zambia also had reduced income due to low copper prices. Zambia’s balance of payments was thus by the various factors affected.

Zambia then took its first IMF facility, of 19 million SDR (Special Drawing Rights) soft conditions loan. This was equivalent to K14.75 million Zambian currency or US $22.92 million. (The Kwacha was then stronger than the US dollar).

Then in the mid-1980s, an IMF Structural Adjustment Programme came into effect. It was meant to help pay external debt and harsh “austerity” conditions were put into place. President Kaunda pleaded for patience from the public, saying the sacrifice from austerity would lead to things getting better.

                                                                  Conditions

The IMF market forces and commercialisation programme came with particular conditions that restrained various activities. There were measures that liberalised the finance environment. Subsidies and public spending were reduced or removed. State firms were to be privatised.

Wages were frozen.  As a way of reducing costs in public service, retrenchments were done and retirement age brought forward to 55 years. Workers in government, councils, and parastatal enterprises were retrenched. Staffing establishments were reduced. These measures were to later affect institutional memory and capacities in many fields.

Schools and other institutions had maintenance staff laid off.  Councils had their staff reduced. Some important fabric components like Community Development and garbage collection were eventually reduced and even disbanded.

(The reduction of council capacities contributed to the 2017 situation were households are throwing garbage within their premises and residential areas because the commercialised and privatised garbage system is not working well for most.

Before commercialisation, garbage collection fees were added to the rent and councils, who provided the garbage service, were generally performing better in that than what is happening now. Garbage collection is a Common Good that cannot be easily carried out just by profit motivation).                             

                                                              Surgeons not Butchers

But by 1987, in Zambia, the IMF medicine, or surgery, was destroying the patient!  A true surgeon is not a butcher.  And a butcher is not a surgeon.

Thus, in May 1987, due to the worsening negative effects, President Kaunda, to prevent further destabilisation of the society, announced that Zambia was breaking away from the IMF programme while still remaining a member of the organisation.

Dr Kaunda said there was to be a home-grown alternative programme. The local “New Economic Recovery Programme” was in place in 1988. Some advances were made. But IMF, World Bank, and allied governments and institutions said there was no alternative to their killing medicine and surgery and imposed sanctions.

Through sanctions and pressures by IMF, World Bank, and allied governments, President Kaunda’s government was in 1989 forced back to some IMF programme relationship.

The hardship continued. In June 1990, with riots as a result of the IMF programme’s impact on food and basic needs, there was a coup attempt.

President Chiluba’s government that followed in November 1991 was more open and willing towards the IMF programme. In the 1990s, the programmes created much hardship in the general population.

The impacts of the 1980s and 1990s still live on in Zambia now and are in our lives in various sectors. Dubious “Health Reforms” led to the exclusion of many persons from health services and death and suffering of many persons. Maternal deaths increased. Malnutrition increased. Life expectancy declined.

                                                              HIV and IMF

The combination of IMF economic Structural Adjustment imposition with the emergence of HIV and AIDS had deadly impact.

                                                         De-industrialisation      

As in other places of the world where IMF imposed its measures, as a result of the programme, and by intention of the programme, employment in the “formal” sector reduced. The programmes led to some de-industrialisation of some societies and de-Africanisation of enterprise ownership.

                                                                Cohesion

Apart from many persons dying as a result of the measures, many persons and families went into material decline and poverty. Social stability was shaken. And social tension increased. Social cohesion was put under pressure and declined.

Many persons died as a result of the IMF measures. Protests and riots happened, with violent deaths arising. The combination of SAP measures nourished corruption.

The capacities of societies in various fields have declined. In various sectors, Zambia’s current capacities are lower than they would have been without the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes.

The IMF programmes, forcibly imposed, have been instruments of violence.  They fight the balance and integrity of life.

                                                                      Regime Change

In some places, IMF programmes have, through economic pressure and hardship, led to regime change. Governments have been voted out or removed in other ways. In Zambia, there was, in 1990, a coup attempt following riots over high food prices brought about by the IMF programme. The economic hardships experienced contributed to UNIP losing office in the elections of October 1991.

Some rulers agree to the dictatorial IMF and World Bank imposition because of fear of being removed from office.

IMF and World Bank have leaned towards politicians that can deliver economic policy and practice environments favourable to IMF and World Bank “market forces” and strong pro-business positions. Yet, we believe, both public and public sectors are needed in a healthy society.

                                                                Big Business

An extreme and strong pro-business direction may lead Zambia to the situation before 1924, when big business, the BSA Company, was government. Big business in control can decide who rules or controls a country.

                                                             Greece, Disastrous

But even when their programmes have created hardship, IMF and World Bank move away from responsibility and put blame onto the victim government and society. The IMF and World Bank enforcers have been unrepentant.

Overall, there have been bitter experiences with IMF programmes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and even Europe, in places like Greece.

Greece Minister of Labour and Social Security told BBC Hard Talk in March 2016 that while other lenders have been considering better and more socially sustainable economic and debt measures for Greece, the IMF “insists on further measures. And it is now the IMF which is isolated, not us.”

Continues George Katrougalos: “I have the conclusion that the austerity policies applied last five years were really disastrous and we must change the mix of these policies…”

                                                              IMF in Zambia, Now

Over the recent two years, IMF and World Bank have tried to reach out to Zambia and hook a programme. There was time, especially before the August 2016 elections, those in authority, knowing the consequences experienced in Zambia and elsewhere, were cautious or even reluctant about getting involved with an IMF programme.

But IMF and World Bank are still reaching out, although they will turn things around and say the Zambian government is the one driving the interest to have assistance from them.

This will be helped by local officials calling an IMF programme “home-grown.” If an agreement is made, we do not know whether it will really be allowed to be locally visioned and driven. How far will it differ from IMF templates?

Will IMF sit back and allow Zambia’s government to drive the programme? We do not know to what extent IMF and World Bank will drive it, directly or working at the back as puppet masters. Why don’t IMF and World Bank let local persons, and whoever the local persons decide to work with, to drive their governments’ programmes?

The IMF and World Bank have taken advantage of some errors or inappropriate or inadequate decisions and actions made affecting finance and resource management after President Sata and the PF came into office in 2011.  But, we believe, the errors and their effects can be dealt with and society healed and balanced without going into some IMF programme.  An IMF programme is likely to destabilise the society.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Thirty Years Now

May 2017 marks some thirty years since Zambia’s abandonment of the harsh IMF programme.

We must accept that many persons now do not recollect the harsh mid 1980s experiences invoked by IMF and World Bank conditions. Some have forgotten, or let go, the pain and anguish. Some, a huge number, only hear stories from older persons.

Some of these persons currently are in some positions of authority and take lightly the idea of implementing IMF programmes. They do not realise or know that the measures have led to death, riots, social turmoil, and reduced capacity in many parts of the world.

Some members of staff of IMF and World Bank may not be aware of their employers’ role in bringing about great negative impact through imposed policies. Not knowing the results of the actions they are working for, a danger is that they will continue contributing to the same problems their institutions have been growing.

Ill advice from IMF and World Bank, perhaps by persons with, at best, poor understanding of local situations or incompetence when related to the situation, and, at worst, following negative interests, led to inappropriate IMF measures that greatly affected quality of life and capacities of societies.

                                              Organised Hold

The IMF and World Bank continue to have influence on governments through some very organised ways. They have cultivated some sympathisers and agents, in key positions, who will influence their governments and institutions to have relations with IMF and World Bank, even where it is not necessary and will lead to negative consequences.

The IMF and World Bank have put a foot hold into governments by continuing to provide small loans and grants that enable them to stay around and have presence in government policies and programmes.

In Zambia, and other places in Africa, IMF and World Bank have penetrated the energy sector, with its huge potential, and are trying to influence it, even by doing projects with energy generators and energy regulators.

IMF and World Bank are compromising energy regulators, to switch off their role dealing with fairness between energy providers and users, so that the desires of the IMF and World Bank machine are imposed, leading to control of the energy sector by those friendly to the spirit of IMF and World Bank.

                                                                         NGOs

And years before, NGO and Civil Society organisations, including churches, were active in issues of people’s quality of life and did much to campaign against debt conditions. This was done, and to some extent achieved, through activities like The Jubilee Campaign.

These days, civil society and NGO organisations are silent on the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes. Some civil society and NGO organisations receive funding for their activities and thus will not criticise IMF and World Bank for impact of their programmes. They are embedded with IMF and World Bank.

Some organisations do not only avoid criticising IMF and World Bank, but will actively support the imposition and implementation of IMF and World Bank programmes. They will side against governments and take IMF and World Bank as their kith and kin.

Sad is that IMF and World Bank come back and forth and many times do still manage to hook governments into activities that are destructive of economies and society. IMF and World Bank bondage techniques continue to work, leading to enslavement of governments and needless hardship in societies.

Sad that those who survived the shackles and sharp blade of Shylock the money lender will some years later go back to the same Shylock, who still insists on the pound of flesh that will also drain blood from the organism.

                                                               Alternatives

Actually, there ARE alternatives, if you open up your mind. There are alternatives to IMF and World Bank programmes. And there ARE alternatives to getting support, lending or grants, to move out of economic situations. The situation now is not that of the 1980s and 1990s IMF and World Bank monopoly and bullying.

But as IMF and World Bank fear that more and more persons and governments will be seeking assistance and links elsewhere, they are getting more active in reaching persons and institutions they can use to influence the direction of governments and societies.

And a question must continue to be asked: with all hardship from the IMF and World Bank programme self-evident over the decades, and knowing that implementation is even dangerous for their societies and governments, and added the fact that there are alternatives to the conditions and partner helpers or lenders, why do governments still, even in 2017, go to IMF and World Bank for borrowing?

As the Africa Under-20 soccer tournament progresses in Zambia, let us also keep our focus on the IMF-Zambia ball play.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

February, 2017, LUSAKA

 The author is involved in Writing and the Arts, Social Development Work, Social Research, and observation and analysis of Conflict and Peace issues. For over three decades, he has researched and written extensively on basic needs and economic policies, including economic adjustment programmes. This piece is some summary of the writer’s more detailed writing on the issue. 

Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars, by Gabriel C Banda

Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars**

by

Gabriel C Banda

DONALD Trump, newly in office as United States 45th President, signed orders to implement the human divisions he had promised in his campaign. He, by decree, restricted persons of seven countries from entering the USA.

As during the campaign for presidency, for days, we have continued to wonder about practical aspects and effects on the world, and the implementers themselves.

There was confusion as some aspects and effects seemed not to have been considered by Trump and company. But the Trump enterprise is determined to implement controversial things it had said it would.

Some aspects were happening as intended by the Trump spirit and were being defended while some things were bringing about critical questions about human relations.

There was confusion at airports, border points, and in the travel process. There was fear and apprehension. And there were protests in the United States and many other parts of the world.

One aspect that came to mind was sports and the international interaction that it involves within societies and during international events. I then wondered whether United States cities and government will bid for some international tournaments.

                                                                      Olympics

These include the Olympics. United States cities have since 1904 hosted many Olympic games, summer and winter. After the St Louis games in 1904, winter ones were held at Lake Placid in 1932, with the Los Angeles summer games taking place again in 1932.

Lake Placid again hosted the games, in 1980. Los Angeles hosted the summer ones in 1984. Atlanta, in Georgia, hosted in 1996. The 2002 winter games were held at Salt Lake City.

For now, Los Angeles is amongst cities bidding for the 2014 summer Olympics that will follow the 2020 games in Tokyo, which has previously hosted them, October 1964.  Los Angeles wants to go on to host for the third time.

There is expectation that some US cities may compete for future Olympics in collaboration with other USA cities and with some cities of Canada in the north. But a question right now is the effect of the Trump entry rules.

                                                                    Refugees

President Trump also signed the ban on some refugees coming to the USA. This ban has implications for Olympic games being held in the USA. In Rio de Janeiro in 2016, there was excitement as an international team of refugees was assembled and took part.

As Trump’s term in office is scheduled to be four years, the Olympic movement should be considering the effect of the Trump entry ban.

Olympics cannot take place with citizens of some seven member countries not allowed to enter a host country. The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.

Of these, the US government military intervention, in team with other regimes, for regime change in Iraq, Libya, and Syria contributed to instability, displacement, and refugees in these societies.

                                                                 Trump Card

Sadly, the Trump factor may act as a card against the Los Angeles Olympics 2024 bid.

And the United States is expected to be among those that bid for World Cup soccer tournaments. There are also other sports events that involve international participation. Some will involve persons from the seven societies banned entry into the USA.

Sport is not the only field affected by the Trump spirit. Trump has sought isolation and exclusion in other fields, including trade and economy. For instance, we wonder if under the Trump spirit the USA will continue to be members of the World Trade Organisation.

                                                                          Reaction

Of course, actions against others will not always go without reaction from the others. Some governments and societies may react through counter-actions that will greatly affect the United States.

There will be prolonged reaction to the Trump isolationism and apartness. As in the times of apartheid, Afrikaans for “apartness,” in South Africa, some persons will protest international events taking place in the US in sport, film and arts, education, research, and various fields. Some persons, due to conscientious positions, will decline attendance.

                                                                       Oscars and Farhadi

Already, I hear that in reaction to the Trump entry decree, a film director from Iran, Asghar Farhadi, and whose film was being considered for the 2017 Academy Awards, has said he will not travel to the Oscars this weekend.

And reports have followed that Khaled Khateeb, filmmaker of Syria, has been denied entry to attend the Oscar Awards his documentary is contesting in.

                                                                               Basketball

While I was wondering about the Olympics in view of the Trump entry ban, I learnt of some great concern in the USA basketball fraternity.

“I do have concern on the travel ban,” Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, told the BBC. “We are a business based on global mobility,” he added. “25 per cent of our players were born outside the United States. We do a tremendous amount of business on a global basis…”

Adam Silver said the NBA stands for “…the best in the world all coming together to perform at the highest level.”

“So, government restrictions on travel, I am concerned about. It goes against the fundamental values, and the fundamental ingredients of what makes for a great NBA, and that is: the very best of the world coming here.”

                                                                                    Unpredictable

Yes, like other Trump decrees and measures, the entry ban will have some predictable and unpredictable reversed effects that will be unfavourable both to the USA and others in the world. Some measures are working against the development of healthy human relations.

With government policy contributing to an enabling environment seized by them, some vigilantes will take it upon themselves to search for migrants and even to punish and harm them.

                                                                         All inter-dependent

It appeared to me that through wholesome banning of entry into the United States of members of some whole nations, Trump was banning the United States from hosting major international sports tournaments, and events from other fields.

Citizens of the United States are not special isolated species but are also members of one humanity and one life, all interdependent for various things and for the continuity of the whole.

And it is known that some advances were made in the United States because of migrants, from other parts of the world, that contributed greatly in various fields. In past times, persons of Africa were forcibly taken to the United States to toil as enslaved persons.

Life continues on in the United States because of the contribution of others from other places and across all fields.

Now, courts have put aside the entry ban but Trump is trying other ways to achieve the intention.

If Los Angeles does not get the 2024 Olympics, it might be that the Trump card might be a factor.

(**The title has been slightly expanded to include the Oscars focus that this writing already includes. All content is exactly the same. Thank You).

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing, social development work, and observation of peace issues.

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GCB, February 2017, LUSAKA.