WEEKLY POLICY ISSUE
Zambia has been richly blessed by God. Our land is endowed with vast natural resources and fertile soils, we have a young population with huge potential, and we are well positioned in the region to take advantage from the various opportunities to trade with our neighbours.
We have 3,400,000 acres of arable land and 40% of water in Southern Africa. Our climate is very good and we are the most friendly and hospitable people in Southern Africa, if not the whole world. The Lake Tanganyika in Northern Province is not only the seconded deepest, but it also has the most diverse marine life of the fresh water lakes in the world. Meanwhile, the Liuwa Plains in the Western Province hosts the second largest wildebeest migration in the world, and is home to 330 bird species. If only we had a leadership with a vision, the potential this country has would be exploited for the benefit of all our people. Without a leadership that can harness these into economic activities that create jobs and opportunities for Zambia citizens, we shall but be talking about potential until the end of time.
In November and December of each year, a staggering 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats congregate in Kasanka National Park located at the western edge of Lake Bangweulu in Serenje, Central Province. This is largest mammal migration on earth. The largest concentration of hippos in the world can be found in the Luangwa Valley of the Eastern Province. The Kafue National Park is the second largest national park in Africa. The largest man-made water body in the world is Lake Kariba. The Victoria Falls is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. And this is not all, Zambia is said to be host to over 150 waterfalls dotted across the country. We never get to hear about Lumangwe, Kundabwika falls in Kawambwa, Nkundabwika in Serenje and many other beautiful falls, so what do we market to our potential tourists?
The North Western and Copperbelt Provinces have some of the largest deposits of copper in the world. Zambia is the world’s second biggest producer of Emeralds, with its Kafubu River area deposits at Kagem Mines about 45 km southwest of Kitwe responsible for 20% of the world’s production of gem quality stones. Amethysts mined from Mapatizya in Southern Province are among the finest in the world. But what we lack in all this is the secondary industry mainly for value addition. Zambia imports almost all the electronics it uses, what would happen if we offered to make circuit boards? Wouldn’t this take advantage of the copper we are exporting in its raw form?
why with so much natural resource wealth at our disposal there is so much poverty in Zambia?
Our forests are among the few that have the indigenous Mukwa and Mukula trees growing in them. These trees produce the best timber and they also have medicinal properties. Unfortunately, we have in the recent past witnessed the indiscriminate cutting down and illegal export of these trees depriving the economy with the foreign currency it so desperately needs. Timber from both these species of trees is very expensive and rare. Yet we import furniture from South Africa. We import wooden products from other countries after exporting raw timber.
The questions that begs the answer is, why with so much natural resource wealth at our disposal there is so much poverty in Zambia? We are at the bottom of all human development indicators, which are life expectancy, education and income per capita. Under five mortality is at 75 per 1,000 live births ( it is 3/1000 in Norway and 4/1000 in Australia) and a maternal mortality of 338 per 100,000 in Zambia is among the highest in the world. Under-five mortality levels are influenced by poverty, education, particularly of mothers; by the availability, accessibility and quality of health services; by environmental risks, including access to safe water and sanitation; and by nutrition. Unfortunately all these are prevalent in Zambia.
Unemployment is off the roof. The country is failing to absorb the few graduates our colleges and universities are offloading on the market each year. Our farmers are not producing enough food. The agriculture sector is grossly mismanaged. The manufacturing industry is dead. Interest rates are too high. The Kwacha has been among the worst performing currencies in the world. Just about every sector you can think about is dysfunctional. As sad as this may sound, it does not surprise us. In 2011 the PF deceived the masses with their “90 days” promises. In 2015 we have a president who is on record of having said he had no vision. No vision means no plan. This largely explains why the PF and President Lungu have taken an easy route of borrowing to try and fix an ailing economy. There are no easy and fast fixes. You need a vision, skills and a plan. This is what UPND brings to the table. Here are some of the things UPND will do when the Zambian people give us an opportunity to form government in 2016.
There is no way Zambia can be importing cornflakes yet year in-year out
- The UPND will enforce available legislation to protect our natural resources and where that is inadequate, in conformity with international norms pass new bills. It is pointless to sign on international conventions that you do not domesticate By translating them into law.
- The UPND will build capacity and demand accountability from government agencies such as ZAWA, Dept of Forestry, Dept of Fisheries and others.
- The UPND will galvanize available human resource to constructively engage in the economy by making financing available to prospective entrepreneurs, current interest are prohibitive and eliminates majority of our people from meaningfully participating in the economy.
- The UPND will as much as possible encourages citizens’ participation in home grown solutions to prevailing challenges. There is no way Zambia can be importing cornflakes yet year in-year out we are boasting of bumper harvests. Zambia imports milk, cheese and other milk products, yet the country has potential to be self-sufficient in many areas.
- The UPND will not borrow from the international markets recklessly, as all expenditure will be carefully planned with appropriate oversight
The many challenges we face as a country are not insurmountable. The crisis however, is in leadership and a lack of political will. We cannot allow the systematic assault and destruction of our beloved country, as is the case under the PF government right now. It is our collective responsibility to make Zambia a better place where all our people will have access to basic social services regardless of political affiliation and connections. We will in future articles tackle our specific interventions in each of these areas of potential.
Together, we can