Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Shall We Talk About This List

There has been a list that has been making its round on social media lately. This list has been compiled by ummm.... ummm. I do not know who but that is besides the point. It is a list nonetheless. It has been called Zambia's Top 20 Under 35 Young Rich and Influential 2015. Now the issue is not so much the list but who appears on the list.

I am sure some are familiar with other lists around the world such as Time Magazine's 100 Influential People list, or Forbes Rich list, I am assuming this was supposed to be such a type of list. I must state a disclaimer right away, I personally know some of the people who appear on the list. Some of the people on the list are doing some pretty amazing stuff. They are taking Zambia forward and making differences in their communities and sectors. Despite this the question that a list of this kind raises is what was the criteria used in the selection of the people who made the list and were they worthy to be on it.

The reason the selection criteria has been brought into question is that there are certain people who are not on the list who many feel should have been on it. A friend mentioned that Pastor Choolwe of Gospel Envoys Church should have been on it or B-Flow who has been influential towards his fight for women's rights. There will always be someone who people would prefer to be on the list. This brings the debate, what criteria did they use to come up with the list? How did they determine that the individuals are rich or influential? Was there some kind of score sheet that they used? How did they define being rich and influential? How far spread is their influence? Did they take a poll?

If this was a list of young Zambians doing some pretty amazing stuff, I doubt few would have argued but the moment they placed it under the banner of Top 20 Rich and Influential it introduced a different ball game. I do, however, acknowledge that many people will have their own ideas of who can be considered rich and influential because these are relative terms. Hence, it would have helped if the people who came up with this list shared with us what they meant when they use the term. I think though that they liked how it sounded hence they decided to go with it, someone has been watching too much E! or reading Forbes magazine.

I will applaud them for one thing, they came up with a list, however, flawed it was. It also let me know some individuals who I had not previously known about. This was not the first and neither will it be last list that we shall see, I hope that the next one that surfaces will be an improved version. Firstly, it would be nice to know who actually made the list and also what criteria was used to choose the individuals on that list.  It will help make the process more transparent and few can argue with it.

P.S. Whoever is cooking up the next list add Frustrated Brotha on it, even at number 20.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The World Expects Tragedy Everywhere Else But Europe

Last week Thursday there were terrorists attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. On Friday there were also terrorist attacks in Paris, France. Both these incidences killed scores of people, at least 40 in Lebanon and 128 in France. However, much of the world attention has been on France. Even in Zambia, most people are more aware of the French incidence than the Lebanese one. Both the terror attacks were horrible but why is it that the world is more fixated by the Paris attack. It could a reason of expectation.

Allow me to use an analogy, if you come from a family where every one of your siblings graduated from university when you do graduate too it is nothing spectacular because it has been done before. However, if you come from a family where you become the first to graduate from university, the jubilation and celebration will go on for days, because it does not happen in your family. In the same vein, I think the French attacks have received so much attention because no one expects it to happen there. It is supposed to be a safe country, with peace loving people where attacks do not just happen on the boulevards. Meanwhile, for countries like Lebanon, such attacks may be regarded as the norm. A bomb blast happens at a market,  mosque, or hospital then it is expected rather than the exception. Lebanon falls into other countries that are experiencing terror attacks such as Syria, Yemen, Kenya, Nigeria, Afghanistan and many others. The world may expect attacks from any other place but in Europe and America.

Could it be that there is a numbing of the emotional sensitivity when attacks happen in developing countries. The media is constantly bombarding us with dead bodies littered with bullets, the carnage of a suicide bomber, or the beheadings of an expatriate all happening in terrorist strewn developing countries. This is on every international news outlet that rather than begin to be shocked by it, we are more likely to expect it. The world may be developing a fatigue for Syria, Lebanon, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries where terrorism is wrecking havoc. It may be the reason why Facebook has not previously bothered to set flags for those countries.

 When terror attacks happen in Europe as it did in France, it is unexpected, out of the ordinary, breaking the script and is considered a mass tragedy. President Obama has even called it an attack on all of humanity, I would like to know what the other attacks were on. This sad attack on Paris has received widespread condemnation and solidarity from people across the world. Major architectural buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building, and  London Bridge Tower had the French flag beamed onto them. On Facebook, people's profiles had the French flag on them. I would be right to say that it was trending. This generosity of support that France has got, however, has not gone well with some sections of society. There have been questions as to why the other countries that have previously been attacked did not have their flags on Facebook. The people who have put the French flag on their profiles have had their moral compasses questioned. It has brought back the discussion of whether European lives are more important than those of other people around the world more especially in developing countries.

As we debate whether European lives are seen as more important than others, we must also not forget to look at it from another perspective. Terrorist attacks do not happen everyday in France or Europe, therefore when they do happen it can only be expected that it will receive more attention than other countries have are daily suffering from attacks. Then challenge then is how do we prevent ourselves from growing fatigued by the others whose citizens live in fear and a dying out of these attacks. How do we make sure that their voices are heard and something is done about their situation. It should not have to take an attack on France or any European country before the world realises that something serious needs to be done.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

To The Lady Behind The Wheel

Dear Lady,

I think it is high time we have this conversation. I have held what I have to tell you for too long and now it is time I let it out. My psychiatrist tells me that I should let my emotions out, verbalise more, talk more and let people know what I am feeling. She tells me that it will make me feel better. So here goes, "What on earth is wrong with you?"

I am a generous driver on the road, each time you ask me to give you a chance to join the road I gladly give it to you. Even if I am late for a meeting, I still let you join and go ahead of me. I have been patient with you, because I am a courteous driver. I do not even mind when you do not acknowledge my generosity on the road. When you do not flick your tail lights after I have let you through or when you do not wave at me in appreciation. None of that really bothers me.

Manje iwe, when it is my turn to ask for the same kindness to be bestowed upon me awe I get the shock of my life. Each time I ask to join the road that is when you even turn your ka head the other direction, like you haven't seen me. When I try to nudge my car ahead to test and see if you will allow me through, then you even press on the accelerator. Ala. All attempts to flash my lights to you as a signal have been ignored. Many times I put my hands together begging you that, "Dear Lady please give me a chance," you then hoot at me and tell me to fuseke. What surprises me the most you even do these things in a traffic jam when clearly there is nowhere you are going. I am speechless lady behind the wheel. I have to wait for my fellow gentleman to give me a chance to join the road.   

My psychiatrist says that vengeance is not mine and I should not mind what you do to me, but wapya. They say, 'Revenge is dish best served cold' I will serve mine with a Toyota Carina. Do not dare ask me for a chance to join the road, the way I will give you the evil eye it will rain in this drought. Even if you smile at me, your car shall not go before me. Hell hath no fury like a Carina driver scorned. Whether you drive a Vitz, Navara or Mercedes you are NOT joining. If you dare me, I hope you have insurance because we shall just bump into each other. Find other drivers to give you chance on the road, because my kindness towards you has expired. So next time you ask me to let you through my response will be a loud, GIGO.

Yours faithfully,

Frustrated Brotha

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Who Are The Satanists?

Did you know that we have special people roaming among us? I really do not know what they look like, so I cannot point at one for you. Still that does not mean that they do not exist. They seem to have some super powers these special people. Yet again I cannot really tell you what these super powers are. These special people scare a lot of people. Even the Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge is afraid of these special people. The one thing that I do know for sure is that these special people have a name. They are called Satanists.

The question that people are asking is who exactly are these Satanists? What planet did they come from? Is it Mars, Jupiter or Pluto? Just how did they come to find themselves possessing so much power that even a minister can be afraid of them. There must be something peculiar about them because they have the ability to shake this Christian Nation to the core. If this was a Nigerian movie this is the scene where I say, "Igwe must know about this."

Even though we do not know exactly what these Satanists look like the Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge has been gracious enough to give us a clue of what we should look for. When someone or a group of people want to set up a mortuary project especially in an area like Nkana West, just know they could be Satanists. After all which sensible human being thinks of putting up a mortuary when hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed with dead bodies. And to top it off Nkana West is an already developed area it does need any more mortuaries than it already has no matter how insufficient. The minister has given us a blue print of what to look for, so funeral parlour owners and coffin makers we are watching you.

It is not only the minister who has an idea of what these Satanists look like. Ordinary people too seem to have an idea of the characteristics of the Satanists. If someone is becoming rich and successful, right there the light bulbs should be going on. No one can have money, build houses, and go on vacations out of hard work and dedication. Such things do not happen in Zambia. Even though we do not see the sweat and tears that they have to endure, we do not care. Our neighbours do not deserve to have a good life, we are supposed to suffer together after all. We must do everything in our power to make sure we stick together. Look carefully if they have grey hair they have sacrificed some years, these Satanists can be dangerous.

So since I still do not have an idea what these Satanists look like. I will be looking at every person very carefully. Maybe I can smell them, detect something fishy from them. The super powers they have need to be dealt with. Perhaps we should hire some bounty hunters to capture them on our behalf, we definitely cannot have Satanists roaming around carelessly. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

SMEs and Entrepreneurs Quick Guide to the 2016 Budget

It is no secret that these are difficult times for Zambia, and the budget which was presented by Honourable Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance on 9 October 2015 was supposed to shed some light on the coming year. Different people, look for different things in the 22-page document. Employees want to know if there have been changes to Pay As You Earn or ministries want to know if their funding has been increased or decreased. But what did this budget have for the Small and Medium Enterprises who have been one of the hardest hit or the entrepreneur who is seeking to make an invest that will reap rewards. If you are an SME or entrepreneur the pronouncements below should grab your attention
Budget briefcase

There is nothing significantly new in this year's budget for people interested in agriculture. It is also a roll over from last year's budget. There is still a strong emphasis on fish farming, either the minister likes fish or there is potential there that Zambians should start paying attention to. The minister has gone one step further by setting up the Fisheries Development Fund to provide K5 million credit to small scale fish farmers. Farming bream may just be looking attractive.

Perhaps one of the most disappointing elements of the budget was the energy section. There were elements for long term investments by making the electricity pricing more attractive. The message for the SME is brace yourself the energy crisis will not be solved anytime soon.

The government has scheduled operations for a national airline to commence in 2016 which is meant to attract tourists to the country, but I would not be holding my breath for this. Apart from that there was nothing for the SME or entrepreneur here. For a country that talks of diversifying its economy it is a disappointment there wasn't more here.

This had perhaps the most substance of the other sectors. The minister mentioned the Value Chain Cluster Development Programme to promote local value addition. The areas for this programme are mango juice production, processing fish (fish appears again), rice, dairy, cotton, honey and forestry products. The programme is being implemented in 42 districts and their plans to expand. Further, there are plans to recapitalise the Development Bank of Zambia, and National Savings and Credit Bank to support SMEs. Also as of 1 September 2015, it is now mandatory for all public sector departments to procure locally manufactured goods for all contracts which are valued at K3 million or less. If I was a manufacturing company I would make every public department  know what I manufacture.

Absolutely nothing

Transport and Infrastructure Development
Some road projects have been reserved for companies where Zambians hold 50.1 percent of the shares. These are road projects for the Link Zambia 8000 programme.

Where is the Money?

§  K5 million for Fisheries Development Fund
§  K187.5 million to Citizens Economic Empowerment Fund
§  K150 million to the Action Plan on Youth Employment and Empowerment
§  K35.7 million to Women's Economics Empowerment Funds
§  K49.5 million for youth skills training and development

Taxes Up or Down?

PAYE- No changes

Beer- I tried to understand the rationale for this but could not find one. The minister said it was to promote the manufacturing sector, I do not see how. The minister plans to suspend excise duty on clear beer to 40 percent from 60 percent. I guess beer could be the secret formula to start our manufacturing revolution.

Property- Property transfer tax has been reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent. Hopefully more people will be selling their houses and land soon and paying the tax.

TV and Radio- Lucky are they who plan to set up TV and radio stations. The minister proposes to suspend customs duty on transmission apparatus for television and radio for a period of two years.

Wood- Export duty of 40 percent will be placed on unprocessed wood and 20 percent on semi processed wood. Further, customs duty increases to 40 percent on all wood and wood products.

Edible oils- Customs duty rate on refined edible oils doubles from K2.20 to K4.0 per litre. This is meant to make imported edible oils more expensive and encourage local production.

Motor Vehicles- There is bad news for the vehicle traders and buyers. A surcharge of K2,000 will be placed on motor vehicles older than five years from date of manufacture. This means any vehicle that was made before 2010 will carry this charge on top of the customs and excise duty. The exception is trucks and buses.

The charges to the taxes will take effect on 1 January 2016.

The greatest beneficiaries from the 2016 budget are SMEs and entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector. A lot of the tax breaks and incentives are given to the sector which is a  positive. There are a few sprinkles here and there for other sectors too such as people interested in fish production. It is not an exciting budget and it is pretty much carried forward from 2015. One big disappointment is that there is nothing extraordinary in the tourism sector pronouncement even though it is a foreign exchange earner and one that we have a relatively competitive advantage to other countries in the region. SMEs and entrepreneurs have a few opportunities that they can exploit and for some of the sectors funding should be readily available. Overall on a score of 1 to 10. I would give this budget a 6.

Friday, 18 September 2015

5 Bright Spots of the President's Speech

President Edgar Lungu made his address to parliament today. It was his first address to the august house as Zambian president. The speech that was delivered has been received with mixed reviews by the public. Some have said there was nothing new, while others have even gone as far as saying that it was an inspiring speech. I do not think I can call it an inspiring speech but it did have certain things I liked about it. These are the five things that I liked about the president's speech.

1. Tribalism
He made a statement about tribalism and the need for us to do away with it. He said that he embarked on a crusade to promote unity in the nation. He called on opposition and traditional leaders to help him in this cause. We all know what tribalism can do to countries that do not squash it, so it was good that he mentioned this. I would have loved though if he added a lit bit of a threat in there as well. The consequences to people caught practising tribalism.

2. E-Government
The recognition that the internet can be used to provide an efficient service is very welcome. This can be a first step towards not only making processes faster but also reducing corruption. I hope that this will be the impetus needed for the ministries that do not have websites to start developing them.

3. Creatives
There is some hope for people in the creative industry. Especially with the digital migration that took place this year. The president did say that through the production of television local content it could be an avenue for job creation. And I absolutely agree with him. I just hope that the necessary support will be provided to see this come into fruition.

4. Mental Health
I have always been concerned at the way mental illness is treated in Zambia. It is often something that has not taken centre stage in health debates. It has been pushed under the carpet. It is good that the president addressed it in his speech. He said there was need to promote and protect the rights of people with mental disorders. I give him a thumbs up on this.

5. Zedupad
By 2017 half of school going children in the country will have a Zedupad. This is the right kind of thinking. This should provide more children access to learning resources that is currently lacking. The challenge now is how to make this feasible.

I now hope that the bright spots that were in this speech will actually become a reality. All we can do at this moment is watch and wait.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Why the Pull Him/Her Down (PHD) Syndrome is Good

There are many people that achieve great things in their lives. Many people attribute the reasons for their success to God, the support of their family and friends, hard work, and perseverance. But the strange thing is that few ever thank the haters. The ones who did not believe, the ones who criticised, and the ones who wrote them off. Perhaps no one thinks the haters are worthy of any mention at all, maybe this needs a rethink.

Zambia is blessed with a lot of creative minds. There are writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, entrepreneurs and many others. Some of these individuals churn out some pretty impressive stuff while others do some pretty horrible stuff too. However, in this arena you need to tread carefully and be very cautious with what you say. Any criticism could be seen as a PHD syndrome. Many people have even gone as far as attributing that the reason why Zambians are unsuccessful is because we do not support each other. We are expected to blow the trumpet for each other, pretend we like each other's work, and praise everything even mediocrity, just so we can be socially correct.

When an artist releases a song and a few people say that the song sucks they are viciously attacked and called haters. People then pull out the PHD Syndrome card as a way to shut them down so that everyone else can ignore them. For example, B-Flow recently wrote an open letter to Taylor Swift for her 'Wildest Dreams' music video. An unknown artist called Portia Clark then criticised it on Facebook. What happened next was an army of people criticising what she had done. Some called her a hater, a PHD individual, and others even suggested that she should have sent him a private message instead.  My take on this is that just because B-Flow is Zambian it does not mean that I am bound to praise and support everything he does. I should do so based on its merit. On the suggestion that Portia should have sent B-Flow a private message is ridiculous, B-Flow made his letter public so too there should be no problem with any praise or critique given in public. As I write this blog, I know that there will be people who will like this piece and there are those who will not. If I am criticised will I curl up at a corner and cry. Hell no. By making this piece public I should be also willing to take on any criticism that comes in. I do not expect everyone to sing Kumbaya  with me and send positive energy my way.

Haters do not receive the credit that they deserve. They have motivated people to work harder just to prove them wrong and in the process they have succeeded. They have given people a second opinion even though it may have been unsolicited. Haters have provided people the inspiration to write songs, paint, and write books. Yet none of them even claimed any royalties. They have brought people down to earth. Showing them that not everyone is singing their praise and applauding their every action. Haters have toughed up people by training them to develop the resilience to survive in the tough creative industries. Let us not forget the free publicity that haters provide. Haters do have an integral part in our society even though they are often misunderstood as having the PHD Syndrome. What might need consideration is what actually constitutes PHD Syndrome.

I do not agree with the use of PHD Syndrome card every time someone criticises something. Also we cannot also dictate to people how they should criticise. We cannot also tell them to be gentle, kind, and positive while they are criticising. People will always have different tastes, likes and dislikes. Haters should not be crucified instead their place in your success stories should be recognised, because whether you like it or not, the haters are going nowhere. So deal with it.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

'Preferably White Lady' Job Requirement Offends

If ever I was to give an advertising class, I would definitely use Ikulile Initiative Enterprise advert in the Post on 17 August 2015 as an example of how not to advertise. For a company that wants to recruit individuals it really has an idea of what type of candidates they are looking for. They just fell short of providing a sketch of what the preferred employee should look like. Perhaps the most disturbing thing of this job advertisement is the PA to the CEO position that stated that "Preferably a white lady". Now I am definitely sure this was not affirmative action that people talk about. This has sparked social media into an uproar but is it necessary?

I am sure that Ikulile must by now have realised this was a grave error, but let me just imagine why the PA to the CEO should preferably be a white lady. The first theory is that the CEO thinks a black, brown, yellow, purple or green lady is not as competent as the white lady. Second theory, the CEO who I am presuming is white does not want to work with any other person outside his race. Third theory is that the CEO wanted to ensure some diversity into the work environment. My fourth and final theory is that the person who wrote the advertisement did not have the write vocabulary to write the advert appropriately. Therefore, instead of saying preferably female they meant females are encouraged to apply or instead of white lady it should have been.... Okay I have no alternative for this one. None of these theories warrant the placing of the advertisement.

This advert has disgusted many people on social media making their anger known. They have vented their annoyance on all know social media platforms. They have called for the crucifixion of the company that placed the advert. They have called upon the labour officers, the minister of the Ministry of Labour and even the president to do something about it. On the other hand, I am failing to get offended. I am trying so hard to join the band wagon of condemnation of this advert but my emotions are not just been stirred. The reason is not that I condone the wording of the advert but rather whether this is even a genuine company worth my anger. There are many question marks that cause me to doubt the authenticity of this company, if anything it might be a scam. I highlight the reasons below:

  • Email address- Most companies worth their salt will not be using gmail as their official email address.

  • It wants to offer housing empowerment to civil servants and ordinary Zambians. So civil servants are some extraordinary Zambians? They are clearly targeting civil servants who have a steady flow of monthly income.

  • The estate development fee of K20,000 (minimum) is rather suspicious. Is it for the advisory services or the building materials. They state after all that they are a construction advisory services enterprise.

  • All job positions have preferably female not older than 35 or 40 years old. Any reason why this company is so keen on having only females below a certain age? They might want the females to lure potential male customers to the business and few would suspect them to be dishonest.

  • Then the preferably white lady. This is a clear indication of the credibility of the management, if there is any at all.

  • It then states 'Bring your CV to the mentioned address before 28th August 2015. Note: Interview upon CV presentation'. For some of the high positions they are recruiting for, it is rather odd that you will have the interview immediately.

Based on the suspicious reasons I have raised, I find it difficult to be fuming over the advert. It is just not worth the energy. On the other hand, had this been a proper well established company then the frustration in me would have hulkalised, but until then I will save it for another day.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Trouble with Describing Zambia

I had the opportunity to play the role of being a tourist a couple of weeks ago. I was visiting four cities in four different countries. Namely, Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Cologne (Germany) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). As I was on this trip as a tourist, I could not help but get a nostalgic feeling about my very own Livingstone. The town that is supposed to be our tourist capital and the contrast was stark and often times it left me frustrated. There is something that we are not doing right with our tourism industry.

Zambia is still relatively unknown to most people outside the African continent. I would think that by mentioning I come from the country that has the Victoria Falls it would immediately click in people's minds that I am referring to Zambia. Nope. Usually the response was, "You are from Zimbabwe?". I had to say, "No Zambia, we share the Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe." And if by any chance the person I was talking to did not know Zimbabwe either, all I had to mention was the name Robert Mugabe and voila, everyone knew him. Surely Zambia cannot be that obscure from the rest of the world that we do not have much to offer the world. Once we have successfully shot down all our lions and cheetahs, I am afraid we may delve into further obscurity.

I will admit despite the song that every president for the last 25+ years has been singing about the diversification of the economy by exploiting the tourism sector, we have hardly made a dent on the global tourism landscape. I was in Livingstone during Easter 2014, and noticed that even though some progress had been made in our tourist capital there was need for it to be accelerated even further. Besides Livingstone is not the cheapest place to be a tourist, especially if you are a local one, with the exception of the falls and museum most activities are pricey. During my four-country trip there were plenty of free things to do in these cities. I was able to grasp a few lessons that I will share.

Paris, France
Wall of Love

Paris is the most visited city in the world and I believe it deserves all the accolades bestowed upon it. There is plenty to do in Paris apart from the must visit to the Eiffel Tower, the city offers plenty of free activities for tourists on a budget. They have well manicured parks, sculptures, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysée, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. However, I wish to bring your attention to a wall. Yes the Wall of Love. Basically that is all it is a wall with the words 'I Love You' in languages from around the world scribbled on it. You can imagine the number of tourists who trek there to take their pictures. Of course, I was able to find Ndakuyanda, Nimakukonda and Nalikutemwa on it. We need a wall too.

Brussels, Belgium

Despite its relatively small size to other capital cities in Europe, Brussels has been able to squeeze out the cash from the tourists by successfully marketing their food. Anchoring this marketing vehicle is their chocolates and waffles. It is all you ever hear about, "You need to taste the chocolates and waffles". Even if you have no desire for chocolates and waffles whatsoever, and chips too, it almost feels like you are committing a grave sin if you do not taste them. Therefore, you are obliged to buy the chocolates and waffles just to tick the box. Imagine if finkubala, inswa, mabuyu, nshima, were marketed in the same way as must taste dishes for every tourist.

Cologne, Germany

Love Lock Bridge

Cologne had a bridge that is known as  the 'Love Lock Bridge'. A similar bridge was also in existence in Paris but the locks were removed two days before I got there. This is simply a bridge where people go to put locks on. However, it is the story behind the placing of the locks that drive thousands of tourists there to put locks on the bridge. The story is that couples go to the bridge and place the lock there as a sign of locking their love. They then toss the key into the Rhine river, signifying that their love will last forever. I admit, a number of them must have broke-up by now, but the gesture itself is worth doing. Once again, imagine if we developed a story that if you go with your loved one to the knife bridge when the falls is in full force and you both get socked and kiss, blessings will shower on your relationship. Something more creative than that can be made up.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Words. Words that spelt out I AMSTERDAM pronounced as I AM AMSTERDAM. Kwasila. It is a cliché to take your picture by these letters in Amsterdam but who cares. Thousands still do it. It is almost impossible to get a clear shot of the words because there always people clamouring around it. It has become a must visit place for tourist. Zambia can have something similar, it can be the sculpture of the big five, the map of Southern Province, a tusk, something that we can associate Livingstone or any city with it.

As I was planning the trip, the first thing that came to my mind was, what free things to do. This was not a luxurious trip, when I am rich I will do one. This was purely on a budget. Zambia has many things it can capitalise on with proper marketing. Even though playing parks have almost vanished in the country and the lions and cheetahs are been shot down for fun, there is more that we can use to attract visitors to the country and raise its profile. It just requires a bit of creativity, innovation, weird stories and effective marketing to get the ball rolling. It is also time we enhanced the visibility of the country's other tourists spot and strategically placing sculptures, walls or anything we come up with might be one way of doing so. I am tired of having to describe Zambia as the country that has the Victoria Falls or the country that won the Africa Cup in 2012. One day I should be able to say the country that makes the best nshima, and everyone will know which country am referring to.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Killing Zambia's Lions and Leopards for Fun

Somebody needs to direct Hon. Jean Kapata minister of tourism and arts to the Discovery and Animal Planet channels. According to the Daily Mail Newspaper last week, she just lifted the ban on the hunting of the cats in our national parks. This means that lions and leopards now have their days numbered. It is baffling how such a decision can be made. Does the minister have some information that the rest of the wildlife conservationists do not have, this might be a right time to share it.


The minister has stated that the reason for lifting the ban is because of lost profit during the ban that was enforced in 2013 by then minister of tourism and arts Slyvia Masebo. Hon. Kapata claims that it was due to weak regulation, so we must now presume that this weak regulation has been rectified but she did not tell us how. The minister further went on claim that the profits from the trophy hunting would bring profits to help with conservation and help the rural people with their livelihoods. Really. Once again the minister did not tell us how. Say we are to believe her argument that it would indeed bring in profits, how much profits are actually brought in and what benefits to the rural areas does it bring. Employing two or five tour guides does not warrant it to be called development.


The government is on an agenda to diversify the economy, but we should not do it at the expense of unsustainable means. This situation is a clear indication of short sightedness on the part of the minister. The numbers of the big cats all around Africa are diminishing and here we are fuelling people's hobbies of killing lions and leopards for the thrill of it. What do we get in exchange for supporting this hobby? According to the World Lions Day website, in 1975 the lion population stood at 250,000 and today it is between 25-30,000 on the continent of Africa. Lions are extinct in Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Malawi. We might as well be adding Zambia to that list soon. The numbers have been dwindling by the year. In case the minister has forgotten, tourists come to see lions in Zambia, soon there will be a situation where they will be struggling to even find any lions, or leopards to see. She also did mention that she would allow the killing to reasonable numbers, now who is to determine what is reasonable in the first place. Is it 10, 100, or 1000. One person's definition of reasonable may be different from another person. If the other argument is that we have too many cats in our national parks why not export them instead of killing them. Hey, if someone can be championing the legalising of marijuana for export, we could at least consider getting into the export of lions and leopards.


Another issue worth considering is that what message are we sending to the local people who are constantly told, "No poaching". They are told not to kill the elephants and the rhinos. But what are they to make of it when they see someone coming from Europe and taking an aim at the lions and leopards. How do you explain to them that you cannot kill the animals, but people from outside Zambia can. And yet these are the local people who have the right to the land. This is also likely to defeat the efforts made towards protecting endangered species.


The decision made by the minister is one that should be reversed immediately. It is a shame and a disappointment in this time that we are failing to protect the resources that we have. Tourism has a significant potential for economic growth, but here we are wanting to kill whatever potential that exists. My great, great grand children should also have a chance to see the lions and leopards. If the minister believes that their too many in our parks, she should give them away to Zoos and other countries, I am sure they would gladly accept the offer. Just because some tour operators are complaining that they are losing business does not mean we should bow to their cries.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Accident Museum Next Tourist Attraction

Atase. Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao 'Fight of the Century', my foot. Now that I have got that out of my chest, I can move on to more serious matters that are genuinely worthy of my time and deserve someone staying up all night for. Another tragic accident occurred this past week in Kalomo which claimed the lives of eight individuals, seven of whom were from the same family. It seems road traffic accidents have become our Achilles heel and the number of lives that are being lost is alarming. In order to address, this situation the government has decided to come up with a 'genius' idea, why not have an Accident Museum.


An Accident Museum, really government, seriously government, is that the best you can come up with. Ok, let us accept for a moment that this Accident Museum idea actually goes ahead just how exactly is it supposed to work.  Is it supposed to act like some tourist attraction where people go check out mangled up cars and how people died or lost a leg. I can just imagine this conversation.

Girlfriend: Honey what are we doing for Valentine's Day?

Boyfriend: Darling today is a special day, am taking you to the Accident Museum.

Anything that has to do with the fear factor hardly works. Look at countries that still have the death penalty for drug traffickers, people still risk it. At best the Accident Museum will just become an educational place for primary school pupils to have a day out. And by the time these pupils reach driving eligibility age they would have forgotten about the museum itself. Quite frankly, I would not find myself going to the museum. I do not want to go and see accident crashes, mashed up cars and being told the gory details of how each accident happened.

The gravity of this problem is really a national dilemma that desperately needs a solution. The challenge that government and the Road, Traffic, Safety Agency (RTSA) are faced with are people's attitudes on the road. I have friends who drive their cars, take their speedometers to 200Km/hr and then even have the audacity to get a picture on their phone. Foolish. Or those who boast that they travelled between Lusaka and Ndola in slightly over 2 hours as if it is an accomplishment.  Let us even consider those who after watching Fast and Furious 7 think their cars are some indestructible machines. Changing such type of mindsets is the question that we have to answer.


The sad part about this mess is that there many good drivers in Zambia but all it takes is one reckless driver to try and overtake at a curve and that decision ruins the lives of families forever. From the Accident Museum, what will be next perhaps putting humps on every high ways. I personally think one short term measure can be that passengers in cars, buses and any other public transport need to take more responsibility. If a driver is over speeding they need to demand that they reduce their speed. I do not know how many people know the RTSA hotline and actually use it to report reckless driving and what actually happens when someone reports. RTSA may also consider placing camera's on high ways too.

The Accident Museum at best will just be there to take up space, but I hardly doubt that it will do anything in stopping the number of road traffic accidents in this country. I also think that this is not just the issue of government or even RTSA and this issue of commanding RTSA to do something by government officials is only saving face. It is a complex issue that  people have found everything and everybody around them to blame for the cause but themselves. The responsibility for preventing and reducing road traffic accidents lies with all of us.

What do you think can be done about the road traffic accident situation in Zambia?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Entrepreneurship is Not A One Size Fits ALL

Six University of Zambia (UNZA) graduates were recently arrested for protesting because they were unemployed. The wore their gowns and were at Arcades Shopping Complex with cardboards with various words that expressed the views of their current situations. The public has not been too kind to them either, many have condemned their act and provided their various reasons why. They have been called lazy, dull, illiterate literates, stupid, and even foolish. Some have even offered them a solution to their problem, start a business. Unfortunately, if I were them I would be very sceptical taking this advice from a person who is an employee.

Graduates protesting being unemployed

I do not think that people who are employed  either in government or in the private sector are in the best position to dish out the advice of others becoming entrepreneurs. They cannot be  calling people lazy and request them to be entrepreneurial when they wait for the month end to get paid. They have the security of a job, their pension paid, some even have health insurance and other benefits that go with the jobs . It is like an alcoholic telling a fellow alcoholic how to stop drinking. If some employed people feel that they have a right to dispense this advice, I would suggest they hand in their resignation letters and join the hustle out there.  On the other hand if they were giving advice on how to get and keep a job then they would be in their realm of expertise. I am also against this idea of telling people who are unemployed, start a business. Duh!  If it is that simple wouldn't everyone be doing it. It is like Bill Gates asking the rest of the world why they are not billionaires, it is not easy.


There is a tendency to keep telling unemployed people, start a business and make money. They should  go to Kamwala and buy stuff to sell. They are told to think outside the box or even tear the box altogether.  We tell them that they are only seeking white collar jobs that is why they are unemployed. This type of prescriptions do very little to change anyone's situation. This is because there is always the 'How' element missing. People are told to start a business but we do not show them how. We do not show them how they should come up with a business, where to find capital, how to carry out a market research, how to keep their finances instead all we tell them is start a business. And when someone starts and the business collapses we wonder why they never try it again. Business is not a one size fits all kind of arrangement therefore it cannot be given like a painkiller to everyone who is unemployed.


The education system has been blamed for training people to be employees. To some extent that is their job isn't it. The universities and colleges are supposed to train people to be teachers, nurses, doctors, accountants, engineers. There are always people who have to work others. Perhaps where our education system has lacked is stretching one's ability to innovate, creativity is usually stifled and questioning is rarely entertained. In the situation of the graduates they have already gone through the education system, the 'damage' has already been done. We can talk about how wrong the education system is but we cannot ignore the big elephant in the room, the graduates are unemployed. It is the problem that needs sorting while we also attempt to rectify the education system.


The graduates that protested had a right to protest. There are many like them who are faced with the challenge of unemployment that many governments are still grappling with. Prescribing entrepreneurship as the mother of all solutions to their problems is wrong. Some people do possess the entrepreneurial spirit and others do not. We cannot be telling everyone who is unemployed to start a business and that will magically solve the issues. Maybe we should tell them how to be better job seekers too.




Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Thou Shall NOT Increase DStv Subscription

It is not every day in Zambia that you will find a group of people coming together for a common cause. The scene is even more rare when it is a campaign against a perceived injustice. Add the force that social media has become,  a campaign can be ignited in a matter of hours. Oh yes, since last week many have seen it necessary to summon the power of Facebook to right a 'wrong' that is about to befall the Zambian population. Unless the people stand united as one, many generations to come will suffer the consequences. This is a campaign of significant proportion that has to be taken. This is not a campaign to stop child marriages, or increase medicines in the hospitals. Neither is it to reduce road traffic accidents or reduce malnutrition. The campaign is against... wait for it.... Increase of DStv subscription. 


You know you are part of the middle class when your worries do not include putting food on the table or your children's school fees but the impending hike of the DStv subscription. Last week it was reported that the prices of DStv would be hiked. It was initially rumoured that premium bouquet  would cost K710 however, DStv confirmed that the price would be increased to K631 from K520 as of 1 April 2015. There would also be increases in the other packages. This news was not kindly received by many DStv subscribers, many calling it exploitation by a monopolistic organisation that keeps on showing repeat programmes. The vicious attack was so venomous that the passion oozed out of the words on social media primarily on Facebook. People called it an outrage, despicable, disgusting and just about every deplorable adjective under the sun.


Then to translate the distaste for DStv's decision a Facebook page was created called 'Zambians Against High DSTV Rates'. Talk of someone being proactive. In a few days it has over 10,000+ unhappy customers who are determined to take this bull by the horns. Many are calling for the a boycott from paying subscriptions in the month of April. They have vowed to squeeze DStv where it hurts. The boycott has continued to build momentum that the Minister of Information, Hon. Chishimba Kambwili wants to have a meeting with DStv management.


I am also quite disappointed at the pending increase in DStv subscription. However, I am not one of the 10,000+ who has liked the page against DStv neither will I be supporting a boycott. The simple reason is I have not been given a convincing reason why I should do it. Many people are arguing Zambia has the highest DStv rates in the region and some have even been bold enough to compare them to South Africa. It is ridiculous. Zambia and South Africa should not be mentioned in the same sentence period. DStv is from South Africa, its subscriber base is miles ahead of what Zambia's is, so surely you cannot compare the two. We have different tax systems in the regions whether it is Zambia, Malawi or Namibia. Therefore, even comparison with other countries outside South Africa is a difficult one to make. I do not think enough information has been provided to make a comparison. It is clear that the Zambian Kwacha against the dollar is depreciating at an alarming rate, this too coupled with inflation are a plausible reason to increase the rates. Some people are calling for a K50 increase. I do not know what DStv's costs are neither are they obliged to tell me. Are people saying that regardless of what expenses DStv encounters they should just increase by K50? This does not make business sense. DStv is a profit making business and not a charity organisation, it is also in a free market economy which allows it the flexibility to charge what it wants. It is playing within the rules of the game.


DStv is a choice, a person has the option to pay for it or not. DStv is a luxury and not a basic need. I believe no one is being threatened with their lives if they do not succumb to paying the subscription.  If people believe that the price hike for DStv is too hire, they have a choice to not pay for it. One thing that we must not forget is that DStv is a private entity and therefore, we cannot dictate how it should run its operations. I hope that once the 'Zambians Against DSTV High Rates' are done with their campaign with the same vigour may they campaign against child marriages.


P.S.  ZNBC still exists.