Beyond the Obvious: Zambia, what must we do to be saved?

I WOULD like to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous 2020, and at the same time ask, ‘What must we do to be saved?

My question is prompted by the fact that we closed the year 2019 on a very bad note, to say the least. 2018/2019 rainy season was unkind to us; giving us a drought that we’ll remember for many years to come. This drought ushered in a crippling power shortage that has left many small businesses in ICU. And before the year could end, we were slapped with a fuel increase that will no doubt spiral many other prices to go up. I have not talked about several other economic inconveniences that we endured in the past year. But I know you know.

But should we, as a country, lament so much about all these maladies that beset us every year? I don’t think so. Zambia is endowed with so much resources that we can feed the whole of Southern Africa and have much to spare. We have mineral reserves of every kind. We have arable land that can grow every crop imaginable. We have more water bodies in Southern Africa compared to our neighbours. We pray and fast every day. What more do we need to do?

I think there’s more that we can do in this country to save our face. We have trained manpower in almost every field: engineers, doctors, teachers, nurses, name them, we have them here. Our colleges and universities churn out graduates every year. What we need, more than anything else, is for government to put its house in order. We have so much abuse of authority and misappropriation of resources which, if put to good use, can solve half of our problems. Every year we are annoyed by the revelations from the Auditor General’s report how rampant people steal or misappropriate government funds with impunity. Every year government contracts are inflated and money shared among those who are politically connected. Every year contractors abandon works even after being paid by the government. Every year government train teachers and nurse, put them on the roadside – waiting to be used as baits during election time. But I pray that 2020 will be a different year. May God help us.

The year 2020 should give us the opportunity to make bold ‘economic’ decisions, and not dununa refrains to please cadres. Those empowered with decision making should show cause for getting paid salaries, and not for just being at the office. Government should show resolve and courage for the good of the nation. To come up with taxi regimes, like we have seen in the past, and then change midstream because some ‘international corporations’ demand so, is a sign of weakness and will not lead us anywhere.

The decision by the Top Man to reduce his salary by a fifth per cent, in my view, is not enough. I expected more from him. Thirty, maybe forty per cent could have made my heart rest. Now my heart is restless because, if you may need to know, his monthly salary can feed your family for a whole year. When he retires, he’s entitled to 80 per cent of the incumbent. So to match with his annual emoluments, your entire clan needs to work for the rest of their lives; if at all any of them are in employment, that is.

You see, the Top Man doesn’t buy anything. He doesn’t pay rent. He doesn’t pay tax. The food he eats, the clothes he wears are all paid by the state. In other words, he himself is state property; that’s why if he feels unwell the minister of health comes running to ask, ’What can I do, boss?’ Which he can’t do if I was on life support machine. Okay, let’s leave it at that and go to our question for this year, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ From past experiences mining has disappointed us and we cannot continue to pump money in a bottomless pit without any returns. This does not mean that we abandon mining, but that we look for other options. If this country has to be ‘saved’ much emphasis and resources need to be put in agriculture value addition as well as tourism.

I believe there are lots of people out there with brilliant ideas on how we can save this country. Please, don’t just sit by and complain. Do something. Say something. Join our hands and give advice were you can. God bless you as we say ‘Happy 2020!’


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