ZAMBIA has many economic opportunities and sustainable development potential which most Zambians appear not to see. As a result, some male and female Zambians; including some youths wear gloomy faces; and are always grumbling against successive governments because of real or perceived economic hardships they experience.
As a result, some Zambians; including some opposition leaders feel that Zambia has high poverty levels which can only be eradicated with change of government. But how many times have we changed governments without reducing these high poverty levels?
Is it changing government which is an answer to poverty reductions or it is change of mindset on how best to fight against poverty at individual level? Isn’t ability to see opportunities also a sustainable solution to fight against poverty?
Of course in some cases, changing a government has helped most Zambians.
For instance, when we moved from United National Independence Party (UNIP) under the first republican president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda to Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD); especially under the second republican president, late Dr Frederick Chiluba, we discovered how helpful improvement of road transport through increase in passenger vehicles such as buses the MMD government facilitated.
MMD regime also opened our eyes on the importance of being involved in some economic activities both for males and females who are out of employment and those who are in formal employment.
Under the current Patriotic Front (PF) government, we have discovered the importance of increased road, education and health infrastructure to poverty reduction. With an improved road network almost in every district of the country, for example, one can move from one place to another within a short time while doing some economic activities.
One can also argue that the increase in the number of districts which the PF government has also facilitated has contributed a lot to poverty alleviation in most parts of the country.
However, while changing government can be one of the solutions to poverty alleviation, if individual citizens are not able to see economic activities which successive governments bring to the national economy, little or nothing can changing government contribute to poverty eradication.
To prove that Zambia has many economic opportunities which each Zambian is supposed to sustainably exploit for his or her own sustainable development process, recently, Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo said about 45 foreign nationals were arrested for illegal mining of gold in Petauke, Chief Sandwe’s chiefdom. For many decades now, which Zambian knew that there was gold in Petauke?
In the same province, as early as 1980s, we used to see some Senegalese moving up and down in some parts of the region; especially in Lundazi. When we saw those people, we used to call them: ‘Masene-sene’.
No one of us bothered to find out why these Masene-sene left their mother country to visit Lundazi where they had no relatives. Each time we saw a Sene-sene, we just looked down; and continued with our low profit-making and poverty-sustaining activities.
Additionally, not until recently have some Zambians realised the importance of owning land at all costs. But how many foreigners have come into Zambia; and own land? Many! Consequently, some Zambians are even tenants to Zambians of foreign origin.
Similarly, for many decades now, many Zambians did not know how valuable the mukula tree is as an economic commodity. It is some foreigners who came into this country as investors who, in the process, discovered the existence of the mukula tree in Zambia. Reportedly, each log of mukula tree fetches a huge sum of United States dollars in other countries.
As a result, some foreigners have illegally exported mukula tree logs many times for their own improved living standards. Look at those many huge logs of mukula tree heaped over there for illegal export!
But at any time of your life as a Zambian, did you know that mukula tree was an economic resource as some foreigners have demonstrated and proved to us?
Fearing the rate of how some foreigners and some few Zambians connive to illegally export; and in the process deplete this mukula tree to the disadvantage of current and future generations, Lands and Natural Resources minister, Jean Kapata said trading and exporting of mukula tree has been banned until further notice to ensure that the tree is preserved for future generations.
It appears most of us Zambians cannot see all such economic opportunities around us. Hence, some Zambians are always complaining of economic hardships even when the value of the Kwacha has improved from K15 per a United States dollar to slightly below K9 per the same dollar; with inflation rate dropping to a single digit.
Mealie meal prices have been slashed down due to high supply of maize coupled with improved performance of the Kwacha.
With such a few illustrations of how some foreigners have seen and exploited some economic opportunities in our country while some isolated Zambians are just watching the improved road network and other economic opportunities; but moaning against perceived harsh economic conditions, calculate the number of foreign nationals from different countries who have been attracted to such economic opportunities and have trekked into Zambia. Many!
What have these foreigners seen which most Zambians don’t appear to see? Why always blame the government of the day; and not blaming ourselves for not seeing what foreign nationals see as huge business opportunities that lie idle in most parts of our country?
In organisaiton’s management, especially in strategic management, they encourage top management to regularly conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. Therefore, each Zambian needs to conduct a SWOT analysis for oneself before condemning successive governments for not improving our lives.
Why is it that foreign nationals stop blaming their respective successive governments in their respective countries; and instead come to Zambia to erode their real or perceived high poverty levels? If foreign nationals come to Zambia as a strategy for reducing their high poverty levels, how far is this country called Zambia for Zambians to fail to use its economic opportunities as the same strategy to improve on their living standards like most foreigners coming to and living in Zambia do?
I am a Zambian. My family, my relatives and I also have some economic challenges in our lives. But the way some Zambians complain against and blame the current government for real or perceived economic hardships is heartbreaking.
Is it part of the usual propaganda against the current government under President Edgar Chagwa Lungu or it is real economic ills which are biting those who are always grumbling?
The challenge some Zambians have is celebrating the past glory for too long. Some Zambians; including some youths feel that because Zambia got her political independence from Britain in 1964, then now it is a responsibility of the same government to feed every mouth everywhere at all times.
For a long time now, dependency syndrome on government’s handouts through various subsidies and social welfare services have destroyed most Zambians’ potential and ability to exploit the huge and many economic opportunities from the vast rich national resources such as wildlife, minerals, fertile soils, favourable climate; including peace and stability this country is blessed with.
It is from such a background that early 2015, Vice President, Inonge Wina urged Zambians to change their mindset. Be enterprising instead of always complaining of economic hardships. Each successive governments is trying hard to provide more enabling environment to Zambians.
Reflect on successive governments’ various empowerment and social welfare services have been offering to many categories of Zambians for many years now.
Think of agricultural finance loans of late 1960s. Talk about co-operative movements with huge government funding to primary co-operative societies up to the apex body of such cooperative movement for many years during UNIP’s, MMD’s and now during the PF’s regime.
Calculate how much taxpayers’ money successive governments have spent on the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) now the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Look at successive First Ladies’ women’s programme in each district. Talk about Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) and Presidential Marketeers’ Initiative funds.
All these are meant to graduate the beneficiaries from certain relatively high levels of poverty to relatively low levels; thereby leading to relatively financial independence for many Zambians. Has this been the case for many such beneficiaries?
One might argue that most government institutions like Ministry of Lands, some local authorities and others favour foreign nationals in providing an enabling environment that facilitates exploiting such economic opportunities.
It might also be argued that when some Zambians raise a finger against some corruption related activities in providing enabling environment in favour of foreign nationals, institutions responsible for fighting against corruption offer a blind eye to such whistle-blowing.
While such arguments for some Zambians’ failure to sustainably exploit many opportunities in Zambia can be true, each citizen should find an open door when others are closed for whatever reasons.
For instance, look at how some Zambians are building their personal mansions in the same perceived poor economy! Consider how some Zambians are involved in some lucrative businesses when you think the economy is biting hard. From their economies activities, some Zambians have imported a fleet of vehicles for further business ventures. Therefore, find ways of how you can make Zambia’s economy favourable to you like other Zambians and foreigners have done.
The author is a lecturer in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also a trainer in Public Relations and in Local Governance.
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