Wednesday, 29 October 2014

I'm The Next 50 yrs

Written by Alinani Mugala

The last few days I've received lots of queries as to what this 'I'm The Next 50 yrs' is about. It's not a campaign, it's not a movement, it's not even a Straight Up agenda (assuming you know what Straight Up is. Lol) So a few weeks ago, Pastor Walker Schurz announced to the congregation that on the 26th of October, the Sunday service gig will be dedicated to celebrating Zambia's 50 years of Independence. He went on to encourage the church to come dressed all 'Zed out' as possible. I knew that a Chipolopolo jersey replica would be the easiest rig to wear (Thanks to Afcon 2012. Lol). Sadly I don't own a Chipolopolo replica (BUT I do own a Power Dynamos one though, hahaha). I sat through the service thinking to myself what would be the most meaningful thing to wear on that day. I just didn't want to wear Zambian colours or anything written Zambia on it for the sake of it. I wanted to communicate something to my country. Not just a cool statement. I wanted to make a pledge to this place.

My mind then took me four weeks back. The Straight Up team has been putting up a lil' sumn' sumn' for this year's Independence Day. We've had to do research into activities that have taken place since 1964. We went through the National Achieves, museum, ZANIS library, Times of Zambia library, University of Zambia library, history books etc. This made me realise how young Zambia is. Fifty years seems like yesterday (am sure Kaunda would say that). Though it feels like yesterday, so much has happened in this country. I got to read newspapers from as far back as the '70s and I can report that it felt like reading a recent paper of 2014, sadly so. I kid you not 1st December, 1997 the Times of Zambia for example had a headline 'Wage Freeze Stays'.... If you have been reading the news of late, you know what's hot right

Anyway, my going through the last 50 years has shown me that we are what we are as a country today because of the decisions people made. People made good and bad decisions which have shaped us as a people. My mind then took me to the next 50 years and I imagined a ka young Alinani reading about Zambia's 100 years history. What will he read? What will he say about the people of 2014-20164? What future would he have inherited? Things he'll write about me would be that I talked too much and did little. I criticised government didn't offer solutions. I told social media how government should be run and yet I never offered myself up for leadership. I told people how to play the game yet I never got onto the field. I laughed and made fun of people that tried and failed. I never gave back to my community. I got my UNZA degree just for me. I didn't know who my neighbours were. I cheated in my business. I gave in to corruption because I wanted to be like the next guy. I lost objectivity in my debates because I knew it all. I was so gullible that everything I'd read was gospel truth. I didn't take correction. I forgot about the place I came from. I participated in a 21st century type of 'Berlin Conference' and sold my country's economy to the highest bidder. Dag the list is long!!! Is this what I want Alinani of 2064 to read about me? To be honest? NO.

How will I make sure that young Alinani of 2064 is inspired by my life, I'll make a personal challenge to be a better person and contribute to the well being of my neighbour and the country as a whole. I'm not going to be perfect. I'll make mistakes, I'll fail and fall but that should be because I tried and aimed to make the life of my fellow citizen and country better. I'll do my part through something am passionate about, and that's my hustle. Olo entrepreneurship as it's popularly called. It's probably one of the toughest roads to roll on but probably the most rewarding to a nation.

So am not going to imagine what Zambia would have been had Nkumbula or Kapwepwe instead of Kaunda or Arthur Wina instead of Chiluba or Mazoka instead of Mwanawasa or Sata instead of RB (in 2008) been President. Instead, I'll imagine what Zambia will be in 2064 if I become a responsible citizen and intentionally do MY part (in private or in public, famous or unknown, paid or pro bono). So that's the story behind the 'I'm The Next 50yrs' chitechi and the T-shirts. It's a personal challenge. But if you feeling it, feel free to run with it palobe

I am Alinani Mugala and I'm The Next 50 yrs.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Pistorius Trial Over, Well It's About Time

The story of Oscar Pistorius aka The Blade Runner is one that resembles a Greek tragedy, a Fall from Grace, the burning out of the candle, you get the picture. It all began on Valentine's Day 14 February 2013 and came to its conclusion on 21 October 2013, even though I reckon there are a few more chapters to be written in this story. A sports hero who fatally killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp while she was in the toilet. This trial was supposed to be the OJ Simpson case of the 21st Century, but I think someone forgot to hand judge Masipa the script for how The Oscar Pistorius trial was supposed to play out.
The Blade Runner
I was young and we did not have satellite TV at the time that the OJ Simpson trial was airing in the United States of America in 1994. I only got to know the drama surrounding the whole case only a few years ago. And yes who can forget the glove in the OJ case. I guess I am a little guilty of thinking that the Pistorius case would be as dramatic, nail biting and highly entertaining. It had these in shades of grey, thank you for that judge Masipa. This trial began on 3 March 2014 with a bang, it was high rating must see TV. Everyone in the office was talking about it, waiting for that case defining witness, confession of Oscar after the prosecutor bludgeons him with questions, or the lawyers going at one another's throat. This is the case that I wanted to see, someone forgot to tell me that things do not work like that in the world, damn you John Grisham.

The majority of my legal knowledge has come from reading tons of John Grisham legal thrillers- The Firm, The Client, Runaway Jury, The Testament, King of Tort, The Innocent Man, The Confession, The Associate, what haven't I read. I had been brain washed to thinking that Oscar Pistorius trial would have some semblance to what I was reading. This trial was like watching the credits at the end of a movie roll, hardly any action. The trial had dragged and in the end, I had enough and was no longer interested in it anymore. I relied on twitter for the occasional updates but I ceased being a devotee. Even the moments when the trial attempted to gather some steam the judge would take it for a long recess like when Oscar had to go for a psychological evaluation. I think the judge wanted to prolong her screen time  as long as lawfully possible.

I do not wish to comment on whether justice was served or not, like I mentioned I did not watch the whole trial faithfully. Besides my knowledge of the South African law is too limited for me to draw a conclusion, so I will not be rushing to condemn the 5 year conviction he has been given. Before I decide what would have constituted justice, I will wait for Hollywood to make the movie, then I will give my verdict. In the mean time, I am just glad this trial is over because it had overstayed its welcome in the media. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Entrepreneurs Quick Guide to the 2015 Budget

The Budget was presented to the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance Hon. Alexander Chikwanda on 10 October 2014. Every year people anticipate the budget to get a feel of what to except in the coming year and how much of the slice of the national cake has been given to them. For the business minded we review the budget to see where the opportunities lie. Well not every business minded person will have the time to read the 24 paged documented. So this is the summary for those entrepreneurs too busy (or lazy) to read the entire budget presentation.
Budget Briefcase

The theme for the 2015 Budget is, "Celebrating Our Golden Jubilee as One Zambia One Nation by Making Economic Independence a Reality for All." From the theme one can get that the government will continue to strive for economic independence.  The minister announced that in the coming year it is estimated that 120,000 new formal jobs will be created in the private sector. I reckon these 120,000 will probably come from the financial and information technology sectors. He further mentioned that inflation is expected to remain in the single digit, which is a good thing.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things in the 2015 Budget is that Government will reduce its shareholding in ZCCM Investment Holding from the current 87% to 60%. Therefore offloading 27% of the shares to the Zambian citizens. ZCCM-IH has shares in a majority of the Zambian Mines and for the Zambians who want a stake these look like attractive shares to consider purchasing.

The key industries singled out as the key sectors in the budget are agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and construction sectors. I wonder why the arts are not a key sector. One can only expect that there will be incentives in these key sectors to make them flourish and be the engines of the above 7% GDP growth rate that the Governments expects to achieve.

For entrepreneurs into agriculture the budget mentions that Government is keen on diversification away from maize as it accounts for over two thirds of the entire agriculture budget. This would imply that Government will promote other crops such as rice and millet. They are also looking at supporting conservation farming involving a total of 84,000 farmers in 31 districts.  The Minister of Finance did mention that the national fish consumption stood at 130,000 metric tonnes. The current production stood at 95,000 metric tonnes. This implies that the additional 35,0000 metric tonnes had to be imported. He also noted that only 20,000 metric tonnes of the 95,000 metric tonnes  production was via aquaculture. Therefore, there would be reforms that would assist enterprising citizens in the private sector to get into acquaculture. So if you were considering fish farming, next year might me a good time to start. The critical thing I found missing from the agriculture sector was the marketing side of the produce. There are definitely flaws in the system and the farmers in the rural areas are especially susceptible to exploitation and one would have figured that there would have been something in the budget to help give them fair price for their produce.

Next year is going to be a good year in manufacturing. The minister directed all Government Departments to give preference to locally produced goods in line with the Industrialisation and Job Creation Strategy. Also effective 1 January 2015 Government will remove the voucher system applicable on such imports. Government is committing more funds to recapitalise DBZ (the amount was not mentioned).  Additional funds will be allocated to the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission to support value chain development. The address mentioned that out of the 1,526 approved projects this year 1,072 projects valued at K48 million have since been funded. 92% of which are in rural areas.  I could explain why urban applicants complain that they find it difficult to receive funding from CEEC, try going to the rural areas.  I would like to know the success rate of these businesses. The Government also intends to create Industrial Clusters to promote metal fabrication, timber, and agro-processing, aquaculture and automotive industry.

There is nothing special.
There is nothing special
Water and Sanitation
The minister urged local authorities to embark on waste to energy projects through the Public Private Partnership arrangement. If anyone has a business idea around this, it might be the right time to share it with the local authorities.

Monetary and Financial Policies
Government still recognises that there are still many citizens in the rural areas who remain un-banked. Therefore, it will be keen on promoting initiatives that will ensure that banking services are taken to the rural areas especially through agency banking. There will also be the implementation of the National Strategy on Financial Education.

Private Sector Development Reform
In attempts reduce the cost of doing business the provision of the Business Regulatory Act of 2014 will be enacted. This will mainly be around the issuing of licences and the streamlining of the procedures.

Empowerment Funds- K123,700,000

If you are considering entering the transportation business you may have to think twice and re-work those business plans. This is because your costs are going to get higher. The Minister has doubled the presumptive tax for individual operators of public service vehicles based on vehicle sitting capacity. On the other hand if you are entering into manufacturing you have a lot to smile about. There Minister has proposed to increase customs duty on explosives to 25% and on roofing sheets to 30%. Happy are the local explosives and roofing sheet makers. There has also been a removal of 5% customs duty on aviation fuel. Hopefully, this will reduce air tickets and also increase the number of flights into the country.

Overall the 2015 Budget, has nothing really spectacular about it. I did not find anything to jump up about as an entrepreneur. There were not as many incentives to drive any particular sector whether agriculture, tourism, manufacturing forward in grand scale. For a country that is ever crying for the diversification of the economy there was nothing much in this budget to indicate that we are on our way towards that. The budget was also the same as last years with a few tweaks here and there. The only worth noting element was the offloading of some of the ZCCM Investment Holding shares to the Zambian public. I guess entrepreneurs will just have to hassle more.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

What! £8 for a Haircut?

Haircut prices
I have had the privilege of travelling to a few countries in my short life time. During the time of my travels, I have visited great places and not so great places. I have met some wonderful people and not so wonderful people. I always visit new countries with an open mind and allow myself to experience each place for what it is. I like to breathe in the fresh air, walk in the streets, see the buildings and obviously buy stuff. Well it is not so obviously because each time I go into a shop and see the price tag, in my mind I am already thinking, "How much is that back home?"

Having travelled to a few countries I should know better than to convert every price tag I see into Zambia Kwacha. I will not pretend that I am the exclusive person who does this, I am sure many people who have travelled to other countries will relate. You go to KFC and ask for a meal before you buy you are already recalling the price at Hungry Lion, you get a T-Shirt and your eyes pop when you see the price before lamenting, "This shirt for this price, its better I go buy it in Zambia." There seems to be this inherent desire to convert literally everything, it is quite a tasking exercise.

So this time around when I made my trip to England, I told myself that I will not convert. I am in a new country which has a different standard of living. I convinced myself that I would not convert and allow myself to spend the money freely. I was managing quite well  until I decided to get a haircut. That was the moment I hit a brick wall. If it was an addiction, I would have called it the point I relapsed. When I discovered that I had to part away with £8.50 for a haircut approximately K87, chineke. My mind went straight to my barber man at Olympia Market who charges me K13 for a haircut and shave mind you. If someone in Zambia charged me £8.50 for a haircut, I would wish to know what drugs they were sniffing. I have stopped converting a lot of things but the haircut is not one them. It is my last form of resistance.
This little realisation brings to light, that there are some who have an assumption that things are always cheaper outside.  I used to think that way too. This is based on the assumption that the stuff is made in these countries therefore must be cheaper. You then hear people shouting, "Bring me a laptop, bring me a phone, bring me a car if you can manage." Well the truth is some things are cheaper and others are not (like a haircut).
Can't this be the new trend

I know that in the next few days my last form of resistance will crumble and I will eventually have to have this beard and hair cut. The barber man may just have to use a chainsaw to remove the £8.50 from my gripping fingers. And I cannot guarantee that a tear won't drop when I release that money. Until then anyone who asks about my beard, I tell them I am auditioning for a movie and I need to look the part.