As Southern Africa braces for cyclones and more heavy rains, economic analysts warn that the floods already engulfing the region are likely to impact badly on inflation and other fundamental economic indicators. "Naturally, the floods will have an effect," says Oliver Saasa, a consultant economics professor at the University of Zambia.
The Zambian government's attempt to increase earnings from its rich copper deposits by raising mineral taxes to global norms is meeting with resistance from mining companies, which signed legally binding development agreements based on a 0,6% royalty tax. Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande announced in his national budget last month that government had revised the tax regime for the mining industry.
The Zambian government is under increasing pressure from business and labour to increase its mineral taxes in the wake of surging copper prices on the world market but, Âanalysts say, a revision could lead to litigation. Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange have shot to record highs of about Â 000 per metric tonne.
South Africa's recent ban on imported second-hand cars driving on South African roads is beginning to hurt the Zambian economy, which has traditionally depended on motor vehicle imports for a portion of its tax revenue. After a protracted two-year legal battle in which clearing and shipping agents challenged the 2005 ban of used cars from using the roads, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Pietermaritzburg last month upheld the ban.
Mobs of enthusiastic fans descend on her every time she is spotted on the busy streets of Lusaka; many shake hands with her while a good number fall over each other to merely catch a glimpse of their overnight national heroine. At home, in a little-developed settlement east of the Zambian capital, boxer Esther Phiri has to remain indoors much of the time to avoid crowds.
On a typical weekday in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, a group of women sits chatting under the shade of a tree a few metres away from a long, winding queue of 20-litre plastic containers and buckets. At the head of the queue, a barefooted boy pulls a half-cut container with a rope from a handmade well and pours the water into one container after the other.