By Wesley Ngwenya
The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) was set up to help Zambians who wanted to build businesses in various sectors of the economy. Among others to benefit include youths, women and those living with HIV. More than three years after being set up there are still very few Zambians, if any, who have benefited from the Citizens Economic Empowerment Fund.
I happen to be one of the people who have applied to benefit from the same fund. Even though it has been more than three months since I submitted a completed application form including a detailed business plan I have not heard from CEEC. Worse still, no one at CEEC seems to have any information regarding my application except for one man–a Mr. Mulenga who is never in his offices at the Boma. Now, one wonders and gets suspicious regarding the transparency of the process. If the application goes through a process and is evaluated by several persons or departments, shouldn’t there be a traceable process throughout? Shouldn’t someone else besides Mr. Mulenga have information regarding any applicant? Is Mr. Mulenga the only individual who evaluates, recommends, answers questions, calls applicants, hands out the checks and handles the K10 billion plus allocated to Lusaka district? If so, don’t you think that compromises the transparency in the whole thing?
It is actually sickening when you have to hop from one office on one side of town to another office on the opposite side of town to try and trace your application. Three months after the application, I still don’t know at what stage my application is at. No one at CEEC seems to have that information. I have left so many messages and have never been called back. The personnel at the main CEEC offices in Lusaka are rude and don’t seem to know what they are doing. They are not courteous-always eating in front of customers and continue their annoying Bemba conversations even after you make your presence known.
Many Zambians including myself have invested a lot in our original business plans. This is intellectual property that we hold rights to in our own ways. One wonders what measures have been put in place by CEEC to protect this information. Ideas are worth a lot. It is ideas that have produced great products, huge corporations and the world’s richest man.
Zambia needs to invest more in intellectual property and promote free thinking and entrepreneurship. Start funding those businesses so they can start building business empires. Stop wasting time having meetings if they are never conclusive. Start working and give people their money. The government has already wasted taxpayer’s money on salaries, allowances and the tea you are always drinking.