BAHATI PF member of parliament Harry Kalaba says while president Michael Sata presided over a pro-poor government, the current government is pro-Chinese. And Kalaba has said he is not afraid of anybody but will never practice politics of insults because he feels President Edgar Lungu has been ‘insulted’ enough.
Kalaba, who resigned as a foreign affairs minister at the start of this year, citing swelling levels of corruption in the government, observed that the current PF government was concerned about foreigners benefiting more at the expense of Zambians. He regretted that those in the government, who lived “in their own world”, could not see escalating poverty levels among ordinary citizens.
“The initial PF that president Sata was spearheading was a pro-poor government [but] this one is a pro-Chinese government. It is more interested in ensuring that foreigners benefit more than the local people and that’s why you see that the levels of poverty keep [on] growing. But the leadership can’t see the levels of poverty growing because they are living in their own world and our people keep on struggling for the basic necessitates every day,” Kalaba lamented in an interview.
He suggested that in order to “to end this deep-rooted poverty”, the government ought to ensure that job exportation was stopped through industrialisation in Zambia’s provinces.
“We need to stop exporting jobs and we need to concentrate on creating industries for our people. Why should Zambians, 54 years after independence, continue importing desks from China? Why should we, 54 years after independence, continue importing textile, chitenges from China? Why should we be importing chitenges from Holland, honestly?” Kalaba wondered.
While in Luapula and Northern provinces from June 29-July 2, Kalaba complained about entrenched poverty among Zambians.
Asked what industries could be established in Luapula and Northern Provinces, Kalaba explained that Luapula Province had massive potential to commercialise its cassava production.
“We can make cassava a real deal here (Luapula Province) and begin supplying to the Congo, Angola and so on and so forth. All we need is just to create capacity, which capacity we already have but needs financing. If there is a deliberate policy to grow industries in that fashion…Look, we have got manganese here; why can’t we stop exporting raw manganese and begin to create an industry which will create value addition and begin to export ferro manganese? In that way, we’ll create employment for our people. But if we continue exporting the ore as it is, our people will keep on losing jobs and we’ll keep on giving jobs to other people. That has to be curtailed! We had Mansa Batteries in Luapula Province, we had Munushi in Mbereshi. But nothing is happening [now]. So, industries ought to come back if jobs will have to come back. For as long as we don’t have industries that will create value for our people, jobs will never come back to Zambia,” he noted.
On whether or not he was afraid to adopt a controversial stance against those in the government, Kalaba responded that: “I’m afraid of nobody. But we have insulted President Lungu enough.”
“By insulting President Lungu, has the price of mealie-meal come down? By insulting him, have industries been created? By insulting him, have we created wealth and jobs for our children? No, we haven’t. So for me, I would rather concentrate on what brings value to our people than concentrating on an individual. He is just an individual in the bigger political architecture and for me who has been in government before, I understand that the only challenge we have is a lack of leadership in this country,” said Kalaba.
“If we had leadership, we would not even be insulting one another. What we have to do is to stop insulting each other and begin concentrating on what brings development to this country. We have insulted each enough and those politics have not helped us! So, why should we be using the same old, tired methods that have given us the same failed results? We have to change. Unless we change…The youth of today need jobs. Our people in the rural areas have never seen development in so long a time because all we do in this country is play politics and singling out individuals. Whether you single out five individuals [but] without changing the system, nothing will change. I’m just a realist. In any case, I will never practice politics of insults myself – that is not me. If in this country it means one cannot go far if they don’t insult, then so be it!”