Monday, June 24, 2024

What Do Zambians Own, Peace? Chicken runs?


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.


  1. You hv even prefixed your name with the title engineer. Very good but what do engineers do? If engineers and scientists told those trained in other disciplines wht is feasible, the money can be found and we would be on our way. Trouble is various Zambian professionals are not having the right inter-disciplinary dialogue. It starts at universities themselves. Engineers and scientists look down upon those who come from the school of social science. This is part of the reason. Yet whn engineers are trained in social science, they really appreciate its methods and hv helped take social science inquiry to another level. Good example is Michael Porter of Harvard. He read engineering at undergraduate level. He returned to university to read business up to PhD. The result was the Porter forces…

  2. ..of analyzing business competition. I can give many examples of engineers and scientists who hv read social science and business. They all understand why social science should continue to be taught.

  3. “…the biggest farms in Zambia and food processing industries are owned largely by Zambian ‘white farmers’…”
    I take issue with this statement. It has connotations of racism. What’s the matter if Zambians who happen to be of a different skin colour run a successful business?
    Alas, such articles need to show actions that the authors have taken to change the status quo.
    Always identifying the visible challenges we face as a country in terms of our lack of manufacturing doesn’t help anything, show us what you are doing to help the situation.

  4. Your observation is right and was facilitated by the current administration’s leader to which you are making this call and the bandits in MMD. What you’re fantasizing about is exactly what Zambia was prio to the 90s when the MMD and h² undid what K² did. They completely shuttered K²’s idea of a Zambia anchored on Manufacturing and self reliance through the IMF/WORLD’s SAP.

  5. In fact they started tempting and coercing K² way way back after he started rulling this country then they slapped Zambia with economic sanctions. K² sought a Zambia that would produce enough for itself and supply the surplus to it’s neighbors as part of trade. Cr00ks like h² together with his Imperialists entered through the backdoor, swindled the du.ll MMD administration and made Zambia what it is today, a sorry site you bemoan, a dumping place of good from all over the world. Remember ZCBC and NIEC full of Zambian produce?

  6. That was the Zambian dream. K²’s idea of Zambia. Ohhh! Didn’t shoprite, Pick n’ Pay borne out’a ZCBC idea? Your call is a miss because h² is married to IMF/WORLD proponents of a Zambia that OWNS ONLY CHICKEN RUNS. h² hurt Zambia. If they were behind it, you think they will allow you to emancipate? You are under State Capture with IMF goons.
    So making Zambia your wish dear writer, is not in the current leadership. The IMF policy they embrace does not support it.

  7. The Saint at Plot One is not completely blameless. A consortium by Zambians wanted to buy ZCCM but the former Saint and current Saint had other ideas.

  8. Some Zambians like #1 , #2 and #4 just shows how dull and shallow some Zambians are, so easy to latch onto things dull people are fond of..just attacking each other anyhow. The man here is putting up ideas for those with the means to implement and you are busy asking him to implement first and lead the way. What Kind of nonsense is that?. Come on, which school did you go to. The person who proposed putting the satellite in space could not even put a Kite over his house, it was purely fiction yet people took his ideas and actualized them and the rest is history. Galileo, Newton.Einstein, etc ..all these were theorist and yet people took their ideas and created wonders that you all marvel at based on their theories.

    We must applaud Eng. Mabvuto Jay Mumba for highlighting the issue…

  9. We must applaud Eng. Mabvuto Jay Mumba for highlighting the issue so that people with the means can be stimulated and take action. Not every idea has to be implemented by the person who generated. There is also innovation and creativity in the execution of the ideas and that makes and translates into real impact on society

  10. The saint here is actually this engineer, what have our engineers really achieved in Zambia. Even a stove that uses three gases was invented by a grade 12 boy. Yet these are things these so called our engineers shd be doing. But you ve engineers who sit in offices in Lusaka all day, giving instructions over the phone for a project in Chinsali. Thereafter at 4 o’clock, before he goes clubbing, he pens down a useless article like this one above.

  11. Although the Article is good I find some of his comments completely wrong.
    1. Why say indeginous Zambians. There are Asians who have been here for four generations, speak the local languages so well, have invested in Zambia and not elsewhere, expanded the business, employ Zambians AND HAVE BEEN SUCCEFULL IN MANUFACTURING – EXAMPLE TRADE KINGS ETC ETC. They too are Zambians, have made this their home and will die in Zambia and if Zambia goes to war they too will defend this GOD GIVEN country. Therefore say Zambians must start industries.
    2. So why have Zambians of all races failed to do more ? Education , short sighted, high borrowing costs etc. The govt must make it more attractive to compete with Internationals.
    3. The best example is our President – most of us were more priviledged…

  12. I won’t even ask what this engineer above has achieved in his personal capacity becos there is nothing of substance that he ll bluff. But he mentioned pf manufacturing, manufacture what exactly? Isn’t it the job of an engineer to design the product that shd be manufactured? So he himself can’t design even “a Tooth pick”, what manufacturing does he expect our uneducated Zambians to perform-if he himself hasn’t got a single design patent to his name? Should pipo then jst manufacture air or water, cos there is no plan from the educated leaders, not even a plan for tissue that he mentioned of. Ask him what chemical elements are used in a tissue – he doesn’t even know, but this is pure engineering.

  13. AUTHOR SHOULD DO HIS RESEARCH BEFORE WRITING. Carl Irwing started Zambeef from nothing. He struggled, expanded, made it a brand name, employs a lot of people, and then floated it on the stock exchange which ANY ZAMBIAN COULD HAVE BOUGHT SHARES IN. ZAMBEEF has now grown to such an extent over the years.

    SO HOW IS THIS NOT A ZAMBIAN PRODUCT AND AN INTERNATIONAL PRODUCT? Sorry according to the Author he is white – a racist of note.

    Stay as an engineer and probably have not got far in life due to your short minded, racist way of thinking.

  14. I don’t know how old this thorn in the………. @5 & 6 was when mothers, some with babies strapped on their backs, died in commotions while lining up to buy the never enough mealie meal, cooking oil, bathing and washing soap etc that was supposed to have been manufactured by NMC, ROP. If there was not enough to carter for the local market, where in hell would goods for export come from?


    SHOPRITE, PICK AND PAY SELL ONLY FOREIGN PRODUCTS ? are you living on another planet

    It is up to us to buy local if we can – very soon diapers will be made locally as well – watch.

  16. The problem that Zambia has that is hindering internal/local talent into producing is UNZA/CBU graduates. They are too educated and too unproductive. Very useless chaps, waste of bursaries funds. Look at Sean Tembo – best student from grade 1 to PHD. But ask a PF cadre in Katondo to speak and Sean Tembo speaks , there is no difference. And a grade 12 pf cadre Bowman Lusambo has more achievements than him. What’s the point of these graduates? But they are busy scaring people in pubs and clubs “ iam this & that, been here there” etc. all for what? For your grandmother?

  17. It pains a lot to some of us who had first hand experience at that time under KK to read contributions made by some bloggers bordering on sarcasticim. We had to make use of some stuff from pork fat boiled in large drums near ZPP as bathing soap then because none was available, no groceries in general and mealie meal was in short supply and expensive eventually leading to food riots. Now, here we have a contributor, because of his hatred for the current man at State House, instead of offering sensible alternatives out of our problems like the writer of the article, just spews nonsense from the comfort of his base.

  18. Who built America’ great cities?? Business men built them. Trump’s father built the NY projects and other notable land marks in New York. Other American business men have done the same. My question is who advises our rich Zambians? Mansions spring up every day. The youths end up renting these fancy apartments for a weekend chill with borrowed money( empowerment funds). Why not build a block of 8 reasonably priced flats so that we came do away with shanty compounds and one room accommodation slowly?

  19. Under colonial rule Zambians envied administrative jobs held by whites. When we got independence the whites did not all leave but some withdrew to go and own farms in Chisamba and Mkushi. And now we have examples of Zambeef Plc. Zambians prefer the easier route and not the one taken by Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus. Yes i agree we can but action is a better song. Arnold Sikaona

  20. Stop contradicting yourselves in trying to copy western cultures and calling it development. Real development will come if you first change your mindset and define a clear purpose of existence. True development for Africa can only be realised if we adopted our village culture and take it to the next level. There is a reason why the dark continent has survived for millions of years. African culture incorporates all the eco and sustainability that Western countries are aspiring towards. What we need is to love ourselves a bit more and concentrate on the things we are good at.

  21. @20 Garlic, If your UNIP government had money enough, why were they failing to pay for raw materials from abroad to run their factories? Our supermarkets had no groceries for sale to write home about, we could not order finished products from S.A. either because that country was under international trade sanctions. On the back of the non availability of goods in the shops and following food riots, Kaunda lost power in the subsequent elections, MMD found empty coffers and were forced to borrow from the IMF to try and remedy the situation despite the harsh conditions which included privatizing state companies. That was the beginning of the end to the socialist path to the capital one.

  22. Is there another country where engineers prefix their names with their profession? I was surprised sitting in a meeting and people were actually calling each other Engineer before names! We might as well allow all professions the right to call themselves sociologist, economist, geographer so and so. Its silly and embarrassing. And why only engineers? EAZ Must stop this nonsense. Use your professions in a professional setting such as your work, on your business card (suffixed), being an engineers is not more important than say a biochemist. If you like professional prefixes to your name, get a PhD. Then you’ll have earned the right to put Dr before your name at least. This coyntry…

  23. #26 Vulture know your history… because of the Unip Government Opposition to the minority regimes around us, it was not easy for ZAMBIA to get things in. We had no trade with South Africa, Rhodesia.

  24. Tell us first what Zambian Engineers have EVER designed, manufactured or built despite graduating with Engineering degrees fr UNZA.. the answer is NOTHING

    All the developed countries have moved ahead because those they trained as Engineers have given them a competitive edge in design… China, America, Asia etc are enjoying the benefits of their trained Engineers… …

    So…. It’s not the politicians… it’s you Engineers who are a let down… you probably should ALL have studied special sciences… cos some of us can’t tell the difference… you have not made any impact in terms of country development.

  25. Well written article. This level of thinking is what Kaunda knew very well unfortuately we failed him. You are on the right path my man. I am your Uncle pa P205.

  26. Analysis is very important before we condemn anything. How much space has the engineer been given in Zambia to promote any ideas? We had professor Chirwa who came up with marvelous ideas but alas we are Zambians. Only a foreigner can do it! Such are statements that should reach our President and hopefully he starts thinking about our local economy seriously. This also starts with you and me by buying our own products. Yes most of the manufacturing companies are foreign owned but if we buy locally then we are doing away with exporting jobs and reducing the number of people on the streets.

  27. Guys in every article let us pick the positives and improve on them and not always dwell on the negatives. Are we a country of serial critics?

  28. Benson Moono @ 29, yours is not a helpful posting. You’re too jaundiced to realize that there are successful consulting engineers in Zambia running successful practices that hv helped to design buildings u work from. Do u know that there are a number of Zambian engineers working outside Zambia and were trained in Zambia?

  29. I remember a certain blogger here ,i think the name was Enka Rasha, who used to raise these very same issues during Rupiah Banda’s and then MCS era.Very pertinent questions to ask despite the tinge of racism in the article.

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