Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Ballad of Frederick Chiluba

This week in Zambian politics:

Monday, 9am: Former Prime Minister Chiluba facing prison, for embezzlement. Hurray for the new Africa, etc, fighting back against all that corruption that concern trolls like William Easterly tell us is their real problem, not starvation or cholera. Hear the mighty voice of neoliberal Decency:

"Today's dictator [sic - it is perhaps a little alarming that Sullivan remains unaware that Chiluba was actually Zambia's first elected Prime Minister] could be tomorrow's defendant," said Michael Sullivan QC, who led the successful civil action against Chiluba at the high court in London two years ago. "Politicians of all sorts are forever talking about the need to fight corruption; here is an historic example of the fight in action. It is widely believed that this trial will have great repercussions for the rest of Africa.

Chiluba, president between 1991 and 2001, was effectively the author of his own downfall when he anointed his successor, Levy Mwanawasa.

Mwanawasa smashed any sense of cosy patronage by launching an anti-corruption drive that investigated Chiluba's time in office. The outspoken Mwanawasa also strongly criticised Robert Mugabe, the president of neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Sullivan said: "He [Mwanawasa] was no puppet. He pursued the case as a lawyer, not for political reasons. He had a genuine feeling for the plight of his people."

Ahh, the legacy of Levy Mwanawasa. Perhaps the man nicknamed "The Cabbage", who achieved so heartbreakingly little in life, may find some vindication in death, as his crusade against Chiluba is proved to be the one thing he initiated that didn't end up going nowhere.

Monday, 4pm: Zambia clears ex-leader Chiluba. Ah well Levy, better luck next time round, eh?

Thursday: Chiluba asks Zambian parliament to restore his immunity from prosecution.

The point here is that convictions in complicated fraud trials are difficult to get, no less so in Africa than over here. This is another aspect of the neoliberal fantasies about "governance", a magic pony-driven system that roots out corrupt individuals and convicts them. The whole point being that if you've got a stable government and legal system that could deliver this sort of result, then you'd have a stable political economy in which far fewer people would bother to be corrupt because the rewards would be greater from legitimate business.

By the way, no, I have no idea why he's sitting in front of an Israeli flag at that press conference either; Chiluba did restore relations with Israel after Kaunda broke them in the 1970s, and he does appear to believe that Israel is a Christian country (and that Zambia was cursed by God for voting against it at the UN in the Kaunda era).
1 comments this item posted by the management 8/21/2009 07:10:00 AM

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