quick hits on Zambia and beyond

In case you missed it, Zambia is a middle income country – at least according to the Bank. This sort of shows in some parts of Lusaka. But Zambia is also a highly unequal and very poor country. Most people in the countryside have nothing else to do but subsistence farming and burning charcoal. The economy is also heavily dependent on mines and foreign owned consumer goods outlets from South Africa and beyond. Which is sad really, given how much arable land it has.

Does anyone know why Zambians use military time? Forget 4 PM, it is 16 hours in Zambian time. The people I have asked have speculated that it is a legacy of the mining industry. I find it fascinating. Taxi drivers think I am weird every time I bring it up.

Also, why is everyone in Lusaka out to some workshop???? Seriously. This is a big problem here. I have had to cancel about five appointments because the only person at the office was the security guard. When do people have time to do their work?

Moving a bit beyond Zambia, be sure to follow the Kenyan cases at the ICC. I am withholding blogging on the issue until the pre-trial judges make their decision. Whichever way they go it will have important ramifications for Kenyan politics. Next year is a make or break for Kenya.

Be sure to check out the Economist’s piece on South Sudan. The teething problems for the new nation will be epic and will take time to go away.

And lastly, check out Jim Fearon on Libya. HT Platas-Izama, who has a new blog here.

Zambian elections

The Zambian elections will be held on the 20th of this month.

The main candidates are incumbent President Rupiah Banda (RB) and opposition leader Michael Sata (Sshhh, don’t kubeba). The two are running on the MMD (movement for multiparty democracy) and PF (Patriotic Front) tickets respectively. Both parties have fielded parliamentary candidates in all constituencies. PF is widely expected to take the urban areas and most of the developed parts of the country. MMD’s stronghold is in the rural areas.

Many on the streets of Lusaka and other parts of the country – well mostly along the railway line coming down from Nakonde – believe that it will be a close election.

They also think that if it were truly a clean election Sata would win.

MMD knows this and has been distributing chitenge and other goodies like there is no tomorrow. This has prompted PF’s slogan of don’t kubeba (don’t tell them); which asks voters to take the chitenges and money but not tell MMD that they are truly PF. I have seen pictures of women in the Post in which women have two chitenges on: a PF one covered by an MMD one.

Because of the deep skepticism over the integrity of the upcoming elections many in Lusaka think that there might be disturbances if PF does not win.

More on this soon.