In October this year, President Michael Sata reacted sharply to a comment made by Chibamba Kanyama on the need to manage the proposed increase in minimum wages with caution. The President called Chibamba a ‘fake’ economist. It is possible the context under which the President made the comment of ‘fake’ economist may be associated with the previous many encounters the two had with each other at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
The public has taken great interest on President Sata’s reaction to Chibamba’s comment on minimum wages. The online blogs have centred on the term ‘fake’ economist. It is important to know that Chibamba has been one of the leading sources of economic analysis and commentary to both local and international media. His academic credentials associating him with economists have been largely debated. He is a brief on his background in the field of economics.
Chibamba had a direct entry at the University Of Zambia Department of Mass Communications in 1985/86 academic year. However, his interest for mathematics led him to select economics as an elective. Through senate approval, he later decided to carry an overload of five courses per year so that he could have as many economic courses as mass communications. He graduated with 20 courses instead of 16 in the four year period. Among the economic courses studied were Introduction to Economics, Economic theory, International Economics- International Trade Theory, Money, Banking and Public Finance, Development Economics, Transport Economics and his lecturers included Dr. Mwikisa, Alast Mwanza (late), Prof. Manenga Ndulo, Prof. Seshamani, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane and Dr. Abraham Mwenda.
In 1998/1999, Chibamba enrolled at UNZA for an MA in Economics and was accepted. He did one year study (covering Development Economics, Econometrics, and Macro-economic Theory) lectured by Prof. Seshamane, Dr. Mwanawina and Prof Ndulo. Before undertaking the research component of the course, he received a Chevening Scholarship to study in the UK. He was accepted at three Universities- Cardiff for an MBA, University of Manchester for MA Economics and University of Reading for MSc Development Finance. Chibamba chose the latter. Development Finance is more or less an expansion of Money, Banking and Public Finance and he graduated as top student in Development Finance programme.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
Chibamba was the National Secretary of the Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) for a two year period before standing down in 2008. It was during his time at EAZ he became a strong voice on economic commentary. The media coined the term ‘economist’; others referring to him as ‘prominent Lusaka Economist’. Reuters has particularly referred to him as ‘economist’ and he has remained a regular source of commentary on many issues affecting the Zambian economy.
In 1999, Chibamba authored two training manuals for SADC journalists on behalf of the Nordic-SADC Journalism Centre (NSJ) initially based in Mozambique. The two training manuals are ‘Reporting the National Economy’ and ‘Business Reporting’. It was through this arrangement Chibamba was the core-trainer of economic and business reporting courses for NSJ programmes between 1999 and 2008. He has trained over 600 economic and business reporting in SUB-Saharan Africa. He also retained as facilitator of African business journalists in 1999 by the World Bank Institute.
In 1998, Chibamba was hired by University of Cape Town economist and consultant, Prof. Barry Standish to be the lead country economic consultant for Sun Hotels. He worked together with prominent economist Dr. Mweene Mwiinga to produce the document that facilitated the investments in Livingstone, Zambia.
His two books, Business Values for Our Time and Achievement Values for Young Adults are his latest addition to the world of economics and business.
Chibamba enjoys making economic commentary and most of his predictions on a number of issues covering the direction of inflation, interest rates, exchange rates and investment have come to pass. The issue is not so much about whether he is or not an economist but the quality of his commentary and opinions in economic trends that remain authentic. In the Zambian setting, many people associate him with broadcasting and believe he can never be anything else but a broadcaster and journalist.
Many are failing to accept that he possesses a reasonably good background in economics; even facilitating in many workshops and sharing the same platform with renowned professors in Economics. It is primarily for this reason on being journalist questions about his background in economics have arisen many times.