MICHAEL Kaingu says it is the job of every Zambian to ring the bell so that the President is told even what he knows already to achieve inclusive national development.
Dr Kaingu said, “yes, Bally can fix it but he cannot do it alone” hence he needs others to share his vision.
“It’s our job, us who are in the industries like tourism to ring the bell so that the President is told even what he knows already. He must be reminded. The President may know some of the things we are saying but he is one person. He might forget some of the salient matters involved in sectors like tourism,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said it was unfortunate that when people like him share their thoughts about how sectors like tourism can be enhanced are mistaken to be looking for jobs and are mocked that they are too old.
“We are not talking about getting appointments as ministers. I mean why should I be? If I wanted to be a minister, I should have participated in the elections. I declined and for somebody to say ‘why come today!’ You are in Choma, my nephew, you know how much Choma Maanu helped UPND. At onetime government was threatening to close it and the same people who are talking now are the same ones who were saying Choma Maanu was a mouthpiece for the opposition,” he said. “I have more than 50 workers and are all in Southern Province so there is a likelihood that they voted for HH. So my vote alone may not be necessary because if more than 50 workers voted for him, how do you condemn me? So if the economy is good then I will employ more.”
Dr Kaingu expressed sadness that some people were agitated whenever he makes a contribution towards national development following his daughter’s participation in the last general elections.
“Do you throw dirty water together with the baby? It’s natural that any other person would have not left their child to go it alone. What was I going to do? I’m a politician, my daughter goes into politics and then I say no you are a naughty one, you go, no! And I have no regrets in any case. I helped my daughter, she failed and I want to encourage her to continue with politics. She can even join UPND,” he said.
Dr Kaingu, who held several ministerial positions in both the MMD and PF governments, urged Zambians to just focus much on national development than petty issues.
“And us who are active in all these industries like tourism and agriculture are willing to contribute and we are employers. Then how can some people say we are too old? Do they want us to run away with our knowledge? We should pass the knowledge to them – our youths,” he said.
“How did I manage to get the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference here to Zambia? Bringing it again means we would have to work hard as a nation. It was not easy. How did I manage to come up with Northern circuit? Now we are talking about Western circuit. So this knowledge must be passed on instead of when we talk people think we are looking for jobs as ministers, no.”
Dr Kaingu said it was from the President’s focus and determination to change things in the country that has attracted contributions from him and others that wish to see an improved economy.
“And that’s why under late president Levy Mwanawasa tourism was doing fine because he gave us free hand to come up with policies which were discussed in cabinet and that’s why I was able to bring the UNWTO to Zambia,” he said.
“When you talk about Kavango Zambezi Trans frontier (KAZA) under Western circuit which houses about five countries in the Southern region, we established Uni-visa where if you get a visa in Zambia you don’t have to get a visa from Zimbabwe,” he explained. “But you see the idea was to make the whole area…so that when you get one visa you have access to all five countries in the KAZA. But up to date we have only managed to do Zimbabwe and Zambia. So we need to move to other countries because that would have made tourism cheaper.”
Dr Kaingu explained that tourism was not a stand-alone sector but multisectoral in nature.
“I don’t think we are doing enough. There is mining-tourism, agriculture-tourism. There is hospitality, so when you look at tourism there are so many business avenues imbedded in there. When you look at tourism as a nation we are still discussing the Northern circuit when we should have long ago developed the Northern circuit and moved to other circuits like Western,” he said. “I’m the one who coined the Northern circuit as then tourism environment and natural resources minister. I’m the one who came up with the Northern circuit and popularising it. I even took the then acting PS to Durban to market it. But we cannot continue focusing our attention on Northern circuit. This country is endowed with a lot of natural resources in terms of tourism. For me by this time we should have moved from Northern circuit to Western circuit.”
He said the Western circuit has five countries through KAZA.
“It has unbelievable ecosystem estates which can actually bring more tourists. The KAZA transfrontier is very big than Germany.
“It’s twice the size of the United Kingdom. It’s from Angola. For Zambia we have Liuwa National Park, Sioma, Kafue National Park, Musi-o-Tunya but that’s not all,” Dr Kaingu noted. “It has got unbelievable cultural heritage because it gets people from different nationalities. So when we talk about the Western circuit it’s not only about tourism driven by animals but culture of people too. If you look at the Kuomboka ceremony, you know, that could also be a tourist puller. We have one that happens in Lealui or Limulunga. There is one in Nalolo, there is one in Kalabo. There are three Kuomboka ceremonies.”
He said Western Province alone contributed 35 tribes out of the 72 in Zambia.
“So it means we have more cultural diversity meaning that even when it comes to the way people live, traditional ceremonies, you have more than 35 in Western circuit because other tribes practice more than two ceremonies. We have also people in Namibia for example the Mbundas, they are also in Angola. They are also in Namibia. So you are able to bring the Mbundas together and you can have a very big ceremony,” he said. “When you look at the Subiyas, we have them in Namibia and Zambia. We have Tongas in Zambia and Zimbabwe, so the Western circuit is much richer than even the Northern circuit where we seem to have stuck for a long time as a country.”
Dr Kaingu wondered why the nation should still be focused on the Northern circuit when it should have moved to either Nyika forestry which separates Zambia and Malawi.
“We have game reserve. We have the prestigious Nyika forest. That also offers tremendous tourism potential. Tourism when I was minister contributed three percent of GDP from the seven per cent that we have had. And that was not even enough. Tourism alone can run this country economically. There are so many countries that are sustained by tourism,” said Dr Kaingu. “Let’s come to timber for example, a lot of money was lost through Mukula tree (rosewood). We have simply failed to manage our natural resources otherwise Mukula and Mukwa could actually sustain our economy. Right now timber in Western Province has been lost and when you look at economic realisation it’s almost nothing. I propose suspension on timber cutting because really the country has lost trees without turning into meaningful economic contribution. For me having been in charge of forestry, I would have loved President Hakainde Hichilema to suspend timber cutting because I know what is happening.
The wanton cutting of trees is unbelievable.
Natural resources can develop this country. This country is rich when you look at natural resources.”