By Eng. Mabvuto Jay Mumba
We can change as many governments as we want but if we fail on the fundamentals then we are not going to achieve anything no matter The Saint at Plot One. The problem we have far extends beyond leadership. The good part is everyone knows the problem; sad part is no one wants to do anything about it.
Let me put it this way, every time you buy Baby Soft Tissue, or Huggies diapers or Kotex, you are literally enriching South Africans through Kimberly Clark, the manufacturer. Now let’s say Baby Soft toilet paper costs an average K150 per pack and is widely distributed in Zambia. Imagine the volumes, imagine the money we externalize.
To bring it to a broader perspective, baby soft is not the only product that is imported but just about every item in the aisles of Shoprite, Pick n Pay Game Stores [All foreign Hypermarkets].
That’s not even half the problem; the existing manufacturing base in Zambia is largely foreign owned and controlled. Parmalat [Lactalis] is owned by the Besnier family and based in Laval, Mayenne, France, Zambia Sugar owned by Illovo Sugar a subsidiary of Associated British Foods plc , ABF, Zambian Breweries Plc, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, controlled by Belgian families and Brazilian investors, National Milling owned by Seaboards and Overseas Trading group, Lafarge Cement [Now Chilanga Cement] owned by Huaxin (Hainan) Investment Co. Limited, National Breweries owned by Delta Beverages of Zimbabwe.
Let’s not even talk about the mines or the banks, airlines.
What do Zambians own? Peace? Chicken runs?
While we fight for FISP, the biggest farms in Zambia and food processing industries are owned largely by Zambian ‘white farmers’. Talk of Francis Grogan and Carl Irwin or the Miller family.
The development of this country hinges on manufacturing. Manufacturing that is anchored on indigenous Zambians. We must rethink the so called empowerment funds. We need to internalize all the money.
My former Reactor Engineering, CE 520 Lecturer at Copperbelt University, CBU Professor Nkonde, God rest his soul, argued that it was utter pointless to construct the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and call it national development because for a country to be called a developed country, it was not the number of stadia or sky scrapers but the number of Manufacturing industries the country had.
The current Government heavily condemned the presence of cadres in markets and bus stations but today the same cadres have changed shirts from green to red and continued with the same heinous activities of collecting money from drivers and marketeers.
Truth is people do not have Jobs. Their jobs are in South Africa, their jobs are in China and tomorrow they will return to every street and every corner to collect those levies.
Why do we want to treat cancer based on symptoms and not based on actual root causes?
The cosmetic measures will haunt us one day.
If this government means well, which I believe it does, they should encourage manufacturing. This has to be done by indigenous Zambians who will not externalize the money. We must be able to produce our own foodstuff locally; we must produce our own Groceries, Detergents, etc.
If the previous governments did not provide a friendly environment for local entrepreneurs to venture into manufacturing, this New Dawn must strive to provide an enabling environment, in the end the scores of reducing unemployment will go to them.