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THE decision by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to outsource labour is a matter of grave concern as it represents a policy move that is unacceptable.

There can be no explanation or justification for that matter for KCM to disregard the government directive banning the recruitment and employment of foreigners in place of Zambian workers.

This disregard is indicative of the serious shortcomings within our investment criteria which should set out clear parameters over which foreigners cannot go beyond.

Unfortunately, it would appear that in our haste and desire to attract foreign direct investment, we are prepared to sacrifice the interest and wellbeing of the Zambian people.

This is the case with the pathetic manner in which locals are evicted from traditional land in preference to foreigners who are able to secure title deeds over land occupied and sometimes tilled by Zambians who have little or no knowledge of the technicalities involved in securing land through title deeds.

It is sad that officers at the Ministry of Lands will readily accept to issue title deeds without verifying the existence of settlements occupied by local people.

We are of course happy that the Zambia Development Agency has issued 192 Investment Certificates in the first half of the year worth US$12.6 billion, with the agriculture sector recording the highest investment worth US$7bn.

This shows tremendous foreign confidence in our economy but also raises some concerns over local integration which often suffers at the hand of foreign preference.

As we have said before, many Zambians over the years have acquired skills and expertise to open and run effective business concerns but sadly they lack capital because our banks have no faith in the locals and many times extortionate interest rates keep Zambians at bay, thereby allowing foreigners to engage in the most menial of business activities.

We have advocated before and will never tire of demanding for industrial incubation to provide mentoring and support for local entrepreneurs.

It is not good enough for such institutions as the Development Bank of Zambia or indeed Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission to offer loans and leave sponsors to their own devices without providing technical and financial supervision support.

This has resulted in spectacular failures as exhibited in the number of foreclosures and subsequent liquidation of some very good business ideas that have failed due to lack of support.

It is therefore our view that as ZDA welcomes and works with foreign investors, extra effort should be paid to creating partnership for the Zambian business enterprises to enable them acquire the managerial and technical skills needed to run specific areas of commerce and industry.

In the long run, it is the Zambians themselves that must run and develop this country.  Foreigners will help but they cannot be expected to sustain and ensure continuity into posterity.

That is why Zambians with mining skills should be allowed onto the KCM project for which the company now wants to recruit foreigners.

It is true technology has moved on but there is no doubt that given an opportunity, local human capital is capable of rising to the challenge.

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