By Son Mumbi
The recent copper boom has been short lived. From about 2005 when there was massive reinvestment in the mines and speculation of more, the Copperbelt and Lusaka saw a proliferation of all manner of mine suppliers- Robin Hood copper recyclers (stealing from the mines dump to sell to ‘venture capitalists’).There was a boom in trade with Dubai, China, Dar es Salaam.We saw an increase in property investment, transport and prostitution (Solwezi notably). And boy did it boom! A check on the social spots of the Copperbelt town of Kitwe and one was likely to meet all manner or businessmen and a few businesswomen.
There were excursions across the border into Congo and into the new wild west of Zambia, North Western Province to get villagers to dig for copper using crude tools and haul 50kg bags of ore on the backs. Stories of copper truck hijacks became the norm. The Chinese where the villains of the show. While a not too close look revealed that other country nationals were the villains also, namely Australians, South Africans and Zambians too! Pot-bellied Zambians and Afrikaners with attractive mistresses to swing
around the town with sleek 4 by 4’s.They lounged around the popular night spots with very attractive mistresses, who if times had really been good, might have been walking the cat walk. Well that is all coming to an end!
My advice to all local mine suppliers, transporters, copper labour exploiters, start farming now. The good times are coming to an end. A global economic depression is inevitable. Forget about joining an NGO and stealing aid money for a ‘poverty’ project, there will be no money for Africa from the West.Not with increasing poverty levels in America and Europe; they will look to their own first. Forget migration, it will only get harder for you to get in, you won’t get past the British Embassy.
Local businessman, with the loot you have left from copper ‘gains’ invest in a low energy consuming tractor to help you cultivate the land, not the new set of shiny wheels you have been contemplating. Do not grow maize, fertilizer subsidies only come during election period. Grow sweet potatoes,groundnuts and soybeans. Practice plant rotation, yes you remember it from secondary school production unit.Plant indigenous trees, keep hardy chickens. Avoid goats and large herds of cattle, they overgraze, but you might want to keep a few pigs, they are not picky about what they eat. To avoid energy problems, go solar, forget about that diesel generator you were planning to buy in Dubai.
And lastly, if you are going to have multiple partners, marry them under traditional polygamous arrangements, and stick to those that you do marry. Be open about it, sly sneakiness won’t do you any good when things are falling apart. Besides, honesty is the best way to get the co-operation of your wives for that extra labour. By being open and sticking to your partner or partners you also minimise the risk of contracting HIV, drugs may get very expensive when things fall even further apart.
If the above is all too much, I recommend an honourable death, volunteer your services to the SADC peace-keeping mission for the DR Congo, Laurent Nkunda is guaranteed to kill you, but at least you would have done one good service, to possibly enter heaven. Isn’t that what most Zambians want judging from the proliferation of pastors in every conceivable social setting, even public transport.