By Mingeli Palata
I don’t even know what day of the week this is and when I normally don’t it goes to show how busy my life can get. Its wild, I doubt I even know what the headlines read. I am done with my work and Mr. Sililo, a charismatic Lozi uncle has just dropped me off at Kabwata Police for me to catch a bus on my way home. I am waiting and looking in both directions hoping that a bus comes my way. Oh yes, there comes one, sharks, the guy is off duty. Gee, what am I going to? Wait, didn’t I have something in my pocket, I should have, and knowing that February leaves the pockets in a better condition than January does (For obvious reasons). Yes, I can spare a K20, 000.00 so I stop a cab but little did I know I wasn’t the only one stuck up at 9 in the evening waiting for a bus and so we were three in that cab, this makes the fee burden lighter so its good.
As soon as the engine was started, one of the guys in the back starts to complain about the proposed sell of Zamtel shares to some company from God knows where. The taxi driver also joins in. The two gentlemen are bitter. The conversation is tempting but gee I haven’t read the news in ages and my participation is thus disqualified. So I chose to listen instead as the men wondered why Zamtel is being ‘sold’. In his own words, if people feel there is something wrong with the operations of Zamtel then why don’t they do a management restructure, refine strategies… you know the usual things that ailing companies do to survive.
Privatization has been one of the best things to happen to this country especially in the case of parastatals. Key industries have been closed and jobs have been lost. I for one have a bias towards government control over key industries and undertakings so my opinion even before we think about the lady with the red lipstick and her antics is obvious, I don’t support the partial privatization.
As I lingered with that thought, the conversation had already taken a different turn, my colleagues are now talking about the issue of shops, ‘how come very few Zambians own shops in town?’ they asked. They cited places like Kamwala and Freedom way; they wondered why Zambians are given second place in their own country. The other intelligent sounding one, even brought up the issue of the multi-economic zone and asked if Zambians would benefit from these or foreigners will be given first priority like has always been the case. More and more issues came out, tax cuts for investors and for local investors. I gathered so much discontent in the hearts of the ordinary Zambian with the efforts being put up by government, lost dreams, deluded hopes is all I hear every time I engage in political conversations with the people on the ground.
Well the rest that followed in that cab as we drove past Fair road up to Mwapona road visa-vies the guys claiming to have lost their cab fare and asking me to pay for them ‘since we are all Zambians’ is not for purposes of the is article. Often times I wonder whether the state of our economy has been affected by the Global economic crisis or by acute economic mismanagement.I expected a budget that reads better to a population that is stained with hunger and an embarrassing currency.I wonder if we will ever diversify our economy and stop our addiction to copper. I hope for a time when Zambians can be proud to be Zambians, when their government will start to believe that the panacea to economic prosperity is the same ordinary Zambians who own Katemba’s, the hardworking miners who wake up every morning to dig money from the ground, the restless teachers who reports for work despite their merger salary, the NIPA student who endures eating bread and drinking juice for three years hoping that one day he/she will be able to contribute to the development of Zambia….. I better stop here…. Because I think I am becoming emotional……