LOOKING at the pictures of looters in South Africa, calling the perpetrators animals would be a huge insult to animals.
But our concern, as Zambians, should be the calibre of our political leaders because this can happen in Zambia, too, due to the ever growing economic discrepancies between the rich and the poor.
Politicians should never join politics to enrich themselves but to help uplift the life of an ordinary child who normally struggles to make ends meet in high density townships and rural Zambia.
But the current crop of political leaders has turned itself into “little kings,” who have enriched themselves by not discussing real national problems to justify their intentions to steal from the poor.
When Zambians bemoaned the numerous avoidable fatal road traffic accidents in the Chibombo area of the Great North Road, our smart Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing, saw a source of personal income on top of its monthly dues which many poverty stricken Zambians can only dream of, and went on to suggest a multi-billion dollar dual carriageway between Ndola and Lusaka!
All we needed was a dual carriageway from Chibombo to Lusaka to address the prevalent head on collision accidents in Chibombo. In other words, Chibombo is a black spot not the entire Ndola – Lusaka route. The rest could come later.
President Edgar Lungu, truth he said, had in his cabinet some of the worst ticks this country has ever witnessed. It would be good for him to make it a campaign issue that we won’t see a repeat of it post August 2021 elections.
So, how do we navigate through the South African scenario post August 2021, to effectively empower Zambians and not only political cadres, and avoid economic inequities that lead to massive looting? Government must change course, only Zambians can develop Zambia.
Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, too, must read this. We don’t need Anglo-American back in Zambia. Change your mindset sir or forget about August 12. We need a new direction that will build on our outstanding 10-year sustainable infrastructure development.
Economic recovery and development emphasis should, therefore, be attached to local private sector empowerment programmes to take maximum benefit from international loans and pave way for a stronger economic outlook.
Let’s see it this way. Zambia once had UBZ but with all the money and human resource at its disposal, it failed to run the public transport system, making intercity public transport a nightmare.
When MMD formed government, President Frederick Chiluba empowered the private sector and the issue of public transport became history.
In simple terms, what we did with the transport sector is what we must do with other sectors, albeit at varying levels. There is need for the government to re-ignite the engines of growth by stimulating private sector development through strategic private sector empowerment.
Imagine if capable local contractors were free to bid for projects in sectors of their expertise based on ability, with government financial support, huge amounts of money would be put, professionally, in the private sector, creating a huge tax base for Government to rely on to provide social economic services to the general public!
For instance, when a contractor wins a tender, he must automatically qualify to apply for a government backed development loan at selected commercial banks but the money should not be disbursed to the contractor.
Instead, the bank pays the suppliers of the contractor based on the bank’s verified quotations submitted by the contractor to facilitate works.
When the project is completed, Government then pays the contractor through the bank that issued the development loan. The bank takes its money and remits the rest to the contractor.
This is better than the current situation whereby the government’s borrowed money remains in foreign banks, only empowering foreign contractors with local contractors fighting for the unrealistic and often unattainable 20 percent bread crumbs. We need roads but their construction must benefit us too.
The role of Government must be to ensure a conducive business environment for local entrepreneurs and companies who, by business survival instincts, will exist to survive much in the same way Euro Africa Bus Services is managed by a man who was in charge of the defunct state-owned UBZ.
This approach, will not only create jobs but will make local firms more competitive, and seize not only domestic but also international opportunities. Let’s make our own AVICs!
MPANDASHALO EVANS MWEWA.