Drug Trafficking in Zambia 1989-91

One of the most striking cross-cultural experiences that happened to this author was the first conversation with an American about drugs. The question was: “Do people in Zambia use marijuana?” This author replied that his experiences growing up in villages of rural Zambia were that sometimes there would be a marijuana tree outside the village. Young juvenile boys would occasionally smoke it to be naughty. As soon as these juveniles became mature, social pressure was such that they abandoned the practice and went on to lead normal adult lives of responsibility, hard work, marriage, and the family. The author emphasized that marijuana did not have any significant disruptive impact on the rural communities.

The American’s reaction was that of disbelief and later admiration and envy that there was a place where people had a “proper” attitude toward marijuana; in his mind some kind of Garden of Eden. He went on to tell this author that in the American society marijuana use was not only a crime but it was big profitable business.

What was discussed was perhaps the contrasting status of a drug such as cannabis in a traditional society where there was virtually no commercial value attached to it and the controversial status of the same drug in the Western society where it has been highly commercialized, criminalized, and used with obsession perhaps among both the young and adults.

This paper maintains that the status of cannabis and other drugs has dramatically changed in modern Africa for three basic reasons. First capitalism and subsequent commercialization of the drugs has provided irresistible incentives to get into the business; incentives that otherwise did not exist two to three decades ago. Second, the dramatic improvement of international travel, communication, and trade have made it easier to transport and sell the drugs to where there is the most demand and profit. Third, the near collapse and stagnation of the majority of economies in Southern Africa have resulted in individuals choosing the lucrative drug trade as a viable alternative for economic survival and to acquire such high status and luxurious symbols as cars, television video players or VCRs, Television sets, expensive homes, and real estate.

The consequences of these changes have been an increase in individual drug abuse, trafficking, crime, corruption of individuals, public officials, and especially political leaders. The situation might be hardly new or surprising in as far as drug trafficking and its consequences on society. The significant difference is that Zambia is a young country with a small vulnerable economy. As a result, the dangerous consequences of drug trafficking might have deeper, wider, and more devastating  negative impact on the fabric of the entire social system. This paper uses Zambia as the case study. Documentary data is used from predominantly the Times of Zambia daily newspaper from June 1989 to April 1991.

Functions of  Drugs:

Indigenously grown cannabis or marijuana and imported mandrax are the two drugs that were most frequently confiscated in large volumes at Lusaka International Airport in Zambia among the international travelling public (see Table 3). Cannabis is used predominantly by inhaling the smoke. How mandrax, a horse tranquilizer, is used is not well known by the public in Zambia. But available evidence suggests that it is used through the lacing of beer, wine, or cocktails to perhaps enhance, intensify, and prolong the experience of being intoxicated.

Evidence in support of this method of use of mandrax is the story of a 39-year old male professor at the University of Zambia in Lusaka. He was arrested and charged in court for unlawful possession of mandrax. He allegedly added mandrax to homemade wine. He was charged with selling nine drums or 1498.86 liters or 396 gallons (166.54 liters or 44 gallons per drum) and 30 bottles of home brewed wine without a license. He was also charged with having five drums or 832.7 liters and 30 bottles of homemade wine which contained mandrax. (Times, May 5, 1990; p. 1)

Commercialization of Drugs:

The amount of money realized in drug trafficking and selling is very large. It lures individuals who are hard hit by the deteriorating economy. Second, the large underground money perhaps also increases inflation further undermining the vulnerable economies of Southern African countries especially Zambia.

For example, during the period between June 1989 and March 1991, the Zambian government through the Drug Enforcement Commission, confiscated an estimated total of 291.72 Million Zambian Kwacha (11.656 M US dollars) worth of drugs1.

TABLE 1 ( download in pdf format)

*Source: Compiled from  Times of Zambia, Jan. 1989 – March 1991

Table 1 shows that the illegal drug mandrax was one of the confiscated drugs with the most value US$9.6 Million, Heroin was second with US$1.356 Million, Cannabis, Marihuana, or Dagga was third with US$0.6 Million. The total value of confiscated drugs was 291.72 Zambian Kwacha or 11.656 US dollars equivalent.

This is is a country where the annual inflation rate is perhaps over a hundred percent, the Kwacha domestic currency has been devalued over 300 percent over the last 10 years with most of it happening during the last three years, unemployment is high, overcrowding in the urban areas has worsened. The high rate of inflation and continued devaluation of the Kwacha in international trade have severely shrunk the real income of the majority of Zambians. An average individual earns an estimated equivalent of 15,000 Zambian Kwacha per annum or 1250 Kwacha per month (600 US dollars per year or 50 US dollars per month)2.

Stagnant Economy and Drug Trafficking:

Over the last five to ten years, the Zambian society has shown growth in everything else except the economy. Between 1964 and 1990, the population of Zambia almost tripled from 3 to 8 million with one of the highest annual growth rates of 3.2%. (Times, Feb. 20, 1991; p.1) The life expectancy of the citizens at birth has increased by 8 years from 47 years in 1964 to 55 years in 1990. Almost all the other major indicators of growth including communications, health, transportation, education, agricultural output have grown. But these benefits have been corroded by a stagnant if not worsening economy.

This stagnating economy has been reflected in increasing rural poverty and a high rate of 50% urbanization intensifying urban crowding. The country’s foreign debt has risen as the cost of imports has far exceeded  export earnings mainly from copper. There is high unemployment of over 20% with inflation being as high as between 50 to 120% per annum. (Perspectives on the Zambian Economy, 1989) This paper maintains that one of the outcomes of this economic stagnation has been the increase in trafficking in illegal drugs.

TABLE 2 (download in pdf format)

Source: Republic of Zambia, Country Profile: Zambia 1984, Lusaka: Central Statistical Office, 1984.

*Source: Figures for 1983 & 84 are from, Republic of Zambia, Zambia in Figures 1984, Lusaka :Central Statistical Office, 1984. (pp. 4-5)

**Source: Figures for 1985 were not available. The totals for 1986 to 88 were extracted from, Chitalu Lumbwe (Ed.), The Zambian Economy Under the Interim National Development Plan: A Review of the First Year, Perspectives on the Zambian Economy, N0. 3, Lusaka: Institute for African Studies, May 1989. (Table 4.1: p. 37)

Table 2 shows the number of employees by industry from 1972 to 1988. The figures suggest that, except in 1975 when there was a remarkable increase, the growth of the Zambian employment has not kept up with increase in the population.

Drug trafficking has been particularly attractive to both rural and urban dwellers because it provides income far exceeding whatever can be earned through formal employment or legitimate business. For the majority of rural dwellers who gain income mainly through the sale of cash crops, the incentive to trade in drugs must have been real. For example, the producer price for maize staple food in Zambia in 1989 was 108 Zambian Kwacha per 90 Kg. bag (4 US dollars per 90 Kg. bag). While the estimated retail value of cannabis in 1989 was 1,000 Zambian Kwacha per Kg. (40 US dollars per Kg.). For urban dwellers, trafficking in the Mandrax drug must have been attractive as one 250 – 500 Mg. pill or tablet had an estimated retail value of 160 Zambian Kwacha (6 US dollars per pill). This income is far more than the 1250 Zambian Kwacha (50 US dollars per month) an average urban employee earns. These conditions make drug trafficking very attractive.

The Trade in Drugs:

The lucrative and high stakes nature of drug trafficking was confirmed by Times of Zambia. “There is money in drug trafficking so the sacrifice of those who dare in it is worth more than a few months in prison.” (Times, Feb. 1990;p.1)

Law enforcement officials, key political leaders, and the press in Zambia have expressed concern and alarm about two possible development in drug trafficking and abuse; that Zambia was becoming both a consumer and a producer of drugs.

First that Zambia for a long time was a transit point for illegal drugs being transported mainly from Asia to South Africa, and from the far East to Europe and the United States. But now Zambia might be increasingly becoming a consumer or a final destination. In a speech to a Trainers’ Seminar in Lusaka, the Permanent Secretary Chishimba Lemba directed the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission to step up the fight against drug trafficking in Zambia. “Drug abuse has permeated every sector of society and it is found among both the affluent and poor people. It is also becoming prevalent in schools, colleges and universities and in industry.” (Times, August, 1990: p. 3)

The seriousness of the policy to fight drugs and drug trafficking was reflected in Zambia’s President Kaunda’s statements.  In spite of Zambia and South Africa being foes at the time over South Africa’s racist policy of apartheid, Kaunda suggested that Zambia should work with South Africa in fighting against the trade in dangerous drugs “flourishing between the two countries.”   …..”We must assist each other; we must work with South Africa much as we hate apartheid.” (Times, March 12, 1991: p.1) Kaunda said that just as apartheid is destroyed the drug problem must also be destroyed. He further stated that Zambia was now a transit point of drugs on their way to South Africa but later Zambia could become a consumer. “To-day we are a transit point, tomorrow, we will be victims.” (Times, March 12, 1991: p.1)

The second area of concern is that Zambia is becoming a producer of mainly cannabis. Political leaders have expressed concern publicly that some citizens were abandoning the growing of traditional cash crops like maize, cotton, and tobacco to grow cannabis.

A Times opinion stated that Zambia had become both a transit point as well as exporter of dangerous drugs. The opinion stated that Western, Southern, and Eastern Provinces of Zambia were growing cannabis commercially for export to Europe and elsewhere.(Times, Feb. 1990;p.1)

Two days after this opinion, a number of cannabis fields were discovered east of the Capital City of Lusaka and the police had arrested 13 people in connection with the matter. Reporters found well groomed neatly fenced land where cannabis had just been harvested. At least 12 bags of cannabis, 6 of them weighing 50 Kg., were confiscated just as they were being taken for processing. (Times, Feb. 1990; p.1)

In June 1990, President Kaunda ordered a clamp down on dagga or cannabis trade in the Eastern Province of Zambia. He was addressing the Tenth Annual conference of the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP) in Katete district in the Eastern Province. Kaunda said Eastern Province was gaining a prominent spot in the cannabis trade. He wondered how someone could grow dagga (cannabis) in a large field, pack it in 90 Kg. bags without political party officials knowing. He suspected that some party officials were involved or looked the other way. He called for ejection of political party members involved in the drug business. He further directed police, security personnel, and vigilantes to smash the dagga growing and peddling. “It is disappointing to learn that Eastern Province now occupies a prominent position in the sale of cannabis (dagga).” (Times, June 18, 1990: 1)

The Minister of Home Affairs, General Chinkuli, expressed concern about reports reaching his office that many Zambian farmers had abandoned maize growing preferring to grow cannabis on plantations. Chinkuli urged the discouragement of these individuals by providing them with alternative agricultural seeds such as cotton, Soya Beans, and Sun Flower. (Times, Feb. 15, 1990: p.9)

Drug Smuggling Routes:

Since Zambia is land-locked country, there are only two routes of drug smuggling; by air and land. There is only one port of entry into the country by air travel.3 The port of entry is the Lusaka International Airport located on the Eastern out skirts of the Capital City.

Zambia has 5,664 Kms. of open boundaries sharing borders with 8 countries; Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zaire. These long borders have created tremendous havoc with smuggling of such commodities as stereos, radios, vehicles, clothes, currency, sugar, cooking oil, detergent, alcohol, agricultural produce, petroleum products, precious gemstones, ivory, rhino horns, and many other consumer goods. Policing the borders is virtually impossible as besides the official border posts, there are hundreds if not thousands of obscure bush paths between the countries. In this context, drug smuggling is just another commodity to be transported and illegally sold across borders.

TABLE 3 (download in pdf format)

Table 3 shows a breakdown of drug related incidents in Zambia as reported in Times of Zambia between June 1989 and March 1991. There were a total of 45 drug related stories 80% of which happened in Zambia and 20% in other African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. In the same period, there were a total of 107 drug related arrests reported in Zambia of which 30% involved men and 14% women. The 55% arrests are ones in which the sex of the suspect was not explicitly stated in the report. Since society generally has a bias toward females being involved in criminal behavior, there is a tendency or a greater likelihood that most criminal behavior involving female suspects will be explicitly reported. Therefore we can make the assumption that the 55% arrests in which the gender of the suspects was not disclosed in the report were males. Drug related arrests for men would account for 86% which is probably a more accurate figure consistent with other previous findings regarding gender distribution of crime. (Cayo Sexton, 1969, p. 8; Walker, 1989, p.224 ) The drug smuggling cases show that 33% were by road and 66% by air. This does not suggest there is more drug smuggling by air than by road, but that perhaps it is easier to enforce customs and immigration laws  by  air travel than it is by road.

Table 3 shows that there were a total of 9 reported cases of drug smuggling between June 1989 and March 1991 in which the route was specifically disclosed. In the majority of the reported cases, suspects are apprehended and charged with possession of particular illegal drugs which were most likely imported. But the source of the drug and route of smuggling is not stated.

The first of the three cases of drug smuggling by road involved 2 Zambian women who were charged with smuggling 300 Kgs. of cannabis to Botswana from Zambia by truck. (Times, Feb. 9, 1990: p.1) The second was a Liberian/Zairean male smuggled 280 packets of mandrax tablets worth K30.9 million Kwacha by road into Zambia from Kenya through Tanzania. (Times, Jan. 12, 1990: p. 1) Third, two Zambian men were arrested in North-Western Province who was allegedly apprehended in the process of smuggling drugs across the border from Zambia to Zaire.4 (Times, Dec. 24, 1989; p.9)

The majority of drug trafficking and smuggling cases that are uncovered by law enforcement officials and reported through the press, are from the Lusaka International Airport. (See Table 3) This is perhaps because air travel is the fastest and most convenient. Since Lusaka International Airport is the only port of entry as well as transit point for passengers and goods to other major Southern African capitals, it makes it easier for customs and other security official to keep surveillance. This mere close surveillance sometimes is enough to uncover the contraband that was being smuggled. In some cases, the suspects abandoned the packages containing illegal drugs.

For example, the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) investigated a case in which 65.7 gms. of heroine that was found abandoned in the toilet of a Zambia Airways plane that was scheduled to fly to New York. The heroine had street value of 328,000 Zambian Kwacha (13,120 US dollars). The Times report said that the plane’s passenger list contained names of apparently well known drug traffickers who were Zambians and foreigners resident in Zambia. (Times, Oct. 28, 1990: p. 1)

In October 1989, the Minister of Home Affairs publicly burned and destroyed  24 Million Zambian Kwacha (0.96 Million US dollars) worth of tablets of the Mandrax illegal drug. The drugs were said to have originated from India and intercepted by security forces at the Lusaka International Airport. (Times, Oct. 18, 1989; p.1)

In early 1990, Chinkuli reported in a press conference that 210 packets of tablets of the Mandrax drug were seized at Lusaka International Airport. The drugs had been placed on wrong airway bills and addressed to false addresses in the Capital City of Lusaka. (Times, Jan. 12, 1990; p.1) During the same period 280 packets of the Mandrax drug were seized at the International Airport from India. The owners had abandoned the drugs due to tight security and were unknown.

Drugs and drug trafficking are likely to impact a country like Zambia very negatively. Because of the relatively small size of the economy, rather young and fragile social system, open borders with no natural barriers like oceans or steep cliffs and mountainous  regions, national and international drug trafficking and smuggling is bound to have a more devastating impact.

Distortion of the Economy:

Distortion of the economy through the worsening of inflation is perhaps one of  the most primary impacts. This is not to say that drug trafficking caused the inflation as Zambia was already a victim of inflation as copper prices dropped on the world market and the cost of oil and other imported raw materials increased in the late 1970s and early 80s. Besides, drug trafficking generally increases inflation world wide as the illegal trade pumps an estimated 500 Billion US dollars per year into world economies. (Times, Feb. 26,1991; p. 3)

Between June 1989 and March 1991, a total of   291.72 Million Kwacha worth (11.656 US dollars equivalent) was seized and destroyed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Many public officials have suggested that the illegal drugs that are confiscated constitute only a small proportion of the volume of illegal drugs on the market. A Times report quoted a DEC official as saying that most smuggled drugs pass through Lusaka undetected.  The Official “…..believed that many consignments of Mandrax tablets were still passing through the country undetected.” (Times, Feb. 15, 1990; p.9)

Assuming that what was intercepted was only a small percentage of the large volume of illegal drugs in Zambia, perhaps over 3 times as much money in illegal proceeds might have poured into the Zambian economy. Since drugs and drug trafficking rarely generate large volumes of legitimate employment, growth of the economy, and production of services and commodities, inflation is worsened as large volumes of money circulate in the country or worse still are siphoned to foreign transactions and banks abroad.5

Zambian political leaders made many critical statements regarding the possible negative and perhaps aggravating impact of drug trafficking on the economy. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Chishimba Lemba, addressing a seminar in Lusaka told participants that drug trafficking causes inflation or distortion of the national economies, destroyed people’s morals, and caused misery among the abusers. (Times, August 24, 1990: p.3)

A case of a well known Lusaka businessman is perhaps typical of many cases involving drug trafficking. The businessman admitted in court to 3 counts of having seven tablets of mandrax valued at  K1,120.00,  0.8 grams of dagga (cannabis) valued at K80=00, and 25 rounds of ammunition illegally. When Drug Enforcement Officials searched the accused’s house, they found the illegal items including a pistol. Other items found hidden were cash worth 31,000 South African Rands and 460,000 Zambian Kwacha. The DEC security officials suspected the man to be a ring leader of a sophisticated drug syndicate between Zambia and neighbouring countries.(Daily, Nov. 9, 1990; p.5) “Officers also found a number of customs, import licenses, and immigration papers suspected to be used in clearing vehicles illegally imported into the country.” (Times, Nov. 2, 1990; p.7)


For an activity that is as lucrative as drug trafficking and conducting illegal sales in mandrax and cannabis, during hard economic times corruption can be expected. The related corruption in Zambia ranged from the poor who might be motivated by immediate needs of getting an income to feed their family to political leaders, bureaucrats, and other elites in powerful positions who might be motivated by a desire to amass quick wealth, luxury, and consolidate their powerful positions. Although the consequences are not clear cut, the evidence suggests a possible deterioration of the fabric of society.

A 58 year old unemployed grandmother who had no husband was found guilty of illegal possession of 556 grams of dagga (cannabis). She was sentenced to two weeks simple imprisonment as she could not raise the fine.  In mitigation she said she was looking after 3 grand children left by her deceased daughter and she herself was old. (Times, May 24, 1990; p. 7)

A Times story reported that Police arrested a woman nurse employed at Kabwe General Hospital in Kabwe for allegedly being found with 3 Kgs. of dagga (cannabis). She was also suspected to have stolen other medical hospital drugs such as aspirins, chloroquin, phenegan and drip water. “Sources said that what was worrying Police was that there have been a lot of ‘inside jobs’ at the hospital and that this has contributed to shortage of drugs.” (Times, Jan. 9, 1991; p. 7)

The corruption of high officials and elites by drug trafficking was perhaps represented in one case in November 1990. Drug Enforcement Commission Officials (DEC) arrested 6 suspected drug dealers including an Ambassador’s son, son of Member of Parliament, a son of a prominent Asian businessman, a Kenyan, and a man from Sierra Leone. The suspects were believed to belong to a drug smuggling syndicate that operated between Zambia and Europe. The Ambassador’s son was suspected to have been trafficking in drugs between Europe (London) and Zambia and allegedly used his diplomatic immunity to evade arrest in Europe. Senior Assistant Commissioner of DEC Raphael Mungole said: “He has specialized in using Zambian girls to carry the drugs.” (Times, Nov. 8, 1990; p.1)

Perhaps one of the most famous and celebrated cases of drug trafficking allegations that might have involved corruption and brought into question the Zambian system of law and due process was that of  a former Zambian Foreign Minister now a prominent businessman. Although the case happened in 1985, a period outside the June 1989 and March 1991 explored in this paper, it is worth mentioning as it is a classic and ultimate case of what drugs and drug trafficking can do to individual liberties and rights, the court system,  and the political due process under the law when the state attempts to fight drugs using its machinery.

The former Foreign Minister and more than 17 other prominent Zambians were detained without trial by the President on suspicion of trafficking of the Mandrax drug. The former Minister was detained in prison from 30 August 1985 to 4 April 1986. Although a Special Tribunal investigated the allegations, he was released without any formal charges or appearing in a court of law. (Mwaanga, 1986)

Combating Drug Abuse and Trafficking:

The combat against drug abuse and drug trafficking in Zambia has taken four major forms: expansion of the bureaucracy, increased financial aid and equipment donation toward the effort, plans for rehabilitation of drug abusers, holding of seminars and conferences with participants from Southern Africa.

After many years fighting drug trafficking using the Police, Customs, and other disparate security arms of the state, Zambia finally formally established the Drug Enforcement Commission in 1989/1990. The purpose of the new bureaucratic organization is to combat trafficking in illegal drugs. This is one more way in which vital limited human and financial resources are diverted and expended fighting very unproductive activity in the society. The resources could have been better used for increasing agricultural production, education, or improving medical services and the like.

The United Nations, through the International Labour Organization (ILO), West Germany, Norway, and many others already made a total of K27.375 Million Zambian Kwacha (1,095,613 US dollars) in  contributions and donations toward the fight against drugs and drug trafficking in Zambia.

TABLE 4 (download in pdf format)

*Compiled from  Times of Zambia, June 1989 – March 1991

**Although ILO was reported to have contributed this amount toward a regional project to fight drug and alcohol abuse in Southern Africa, Norway and the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions were also involved in the joint project. Michael Andindile, “$947, 613 ILO Project to Fight Alcohol, Drug Abuse,” Times of Zambia, May 5, 1990, p.4


Table 4 shows that 3 European countries, 1 Swiss non-governmental agency, and the ILO gave donations to the DEC to fight drug trafficking and abuse. Of the disclosed sums of donations, ILO had the largest contribution accounting for almost all the total contribution of 26.3 Million Zambian Kwacha or over a million US$ equivalent.

Table 5 shows that some of the contributions toward the combat against drug abuse and trafficking was done through sponsoring seminars and conferences with participants from Zambia, East and Southern African countries. Between June 1989 and March 1991 the media reported that 5 seminars and other public activities were organized. Three of the five were sponsored by United Nations-related organizations and one by a chapter of the Lions Club in Kitwe in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.(See Table 5)


There is realization that arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning drug abusers and traffickers alone will not be the total solution. Rehabilitation of drug abusers, creation of alternative employment and other legitimate income generating activities, and regional cooperation in the fight against drugs is the only strategy that might have lasting results. The Three Day “Think-Tank” meeting held from December 4 to 7 1990 perhaps best exemplifies this strategy.

Table 5 (download in pdf format)

Table 5 shows there were 5 drug abuse and trafficking seminars, conferences, or public activity reported in the Times of Zambia between June 1989 and March 1991. There were 2 involving local Zambian participants and 3 involving regional or Southern African countries. The United Nations related agencies seem to have been the most frequent sponsor of these activities.

The regional seminar acknowledged that the pressure of the money or cash economy had penetrated the societies such that  even rural dwellers have been forced to indulge in the drug trade. Agriculture suffered in the area as a result of dagga (cannabis) use. “Not only did it lead to laziness resulting in reduced productivity but it also diverted some of the farmers from growing cash crops.” (Times, Dec. 5, 1990; p.7)

In his opening address at the seminar, the Zambian Minister of Home Affairs General Kingsley Chinkuli reaffirmed that regional cooperation was necessary if drug trafficking and abuse were to be eliminated. “There was also need to create more employment opportunities to absorb idle youth who were prone to take to drug business for lack of better means of earning a living.” (Times, Dec. 4, 1990; p.7)

Among many of the observations, conclusions, and resolutions of the “Think-Tank” seminar was the acknowledgement of the vulnerability of women in the modern employment sector. As noted earlier, many urban women who might be ill educated, poor, old, widowed, divorced, or unemployed may find themselves trading in illegal drugs because they do not have any other source of income. “In Botswana dagga (cannabis) was mostly grown by women who were not in formal employment and it served as their source of income.” (Times, Dec. 5, 1990; p7)

In another case, a 29 year old single woman and a mother of 3 young children pleaded guilty in a court in Livingstone to having 135 gms. of dagga without license. In mitigation she said she was a single mother and her parents died the previous year and no one would imprisonment since she could not afford to pay the fine. look after her children if she was sent to prison. She was sentenced to 2 weeks simple


The cases of drug trafficking that were uncovered in Zambia were alarming especially, as suggested by some leaders, that they represent only the tip of the ice berg. Drug trafficking in mandrax and cannabis will get worse in Zambia and Southern Africa as long as the majority of the economies continue to stagnate or deteriorate any further. Urban dwellers, especially elites, will continue to traffic in mandrax because of the sheer high income realized from the drug and the ease with which the drug can be transported from Asian sub continent to Southern Africa. As South Africa is becoming liberated from apartheid and joining the international community, the social and physical impact of mandrax drug abuse will have to be investigated and documented.

Rural dwellers in Zambia and Southern Africa will continue to favor the growing of cannabis as long as the producer prices for the legitimate traditional agricultural staple foods such as maize and cash crops such as cotton, and tobacco stagnate while inflation rises. Even when farmers produce bumper harvests of the staple foods such as maize, inefficient organization and marketing, and poor processing and transportation of the crop by government results in rural citizens still earning inadequate income from their agricultural produce. (Good, 1986)

As this illegal trade flourishes, crime, imprisonment, and corruption in the Zambian society will continue. The international AID donors, including the UN related agencies will continue to spend more resources to combat drug trafficking and rehabilitation of drug abusers. The only solution that might have lasting effects in solving the problem for Zambia and all the Southern African countries is to take pragmatic steps to inject growth in their economies.  Simultaneously, regional efforts at coordinating the combating of drug trafficking should be intensified.

 End Notes

1The author arrived at this figure by compiling them from Times of Zambia stories between June 1989 and March 1991.

2This estimate is based on the publication The World Fact Book 1990, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., 1990.

3A few cargo and passenger flights sometimes use the Ndola Airport in the Copperbelt particularly when flying to and from neighbouring Zaire. But the overwhelming majority of major international flights originate from or use the Lusaka International Airport as a transit point.

4These were medical drugs including tins of ampicilin, chloroquine, and capsules of many other medical drugs.

5Inflation and excess paper currency flooded the Zambian economy so badly that in July 1989, the government changed the Zambian currency. In order to eliminate the excess paper money, citizens were allowed to bring to the bank and change only a maximum of 10,000 Kwacha of the old currency into the new currency. Any cash above was confiscated by government and destroyed. This rule did not affect  those who already had their money in bank accounts prior to the proclamation of change of currency. Times of Zambia, July 1, 1989.


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