OUR copper can change our story, says MMD vice-president political Reuben Samboh.
In a statement, Reverend Samboh urged President Hakainde Hichilema to go everywhere and make things happen.
He noted that Dubai discovered oil in 1966 and used the proceeds from there to propel their fortunes and develop the potential that was locked up in other areas that could contribute to the gross domestic product.
He noted that Dubai unlocked its tourism, housing, education, health, trade, ICTs, banking, security, infrastructure, among other fortunes.
Rev Samboh said proceeds from Zambia’s copper and other minerals have gone to build other nations, revive economies and even build cities other than in Zambia.
“Today, the proceeds from oil have been relegated to a meagre five per cent of Dubai’s GDP. At one, point oil was the main contributor to the GDP of Dubai, now it’s not,” he said. “On the other hand, Zambia (before she was even known as Northern Rhodesia), discovered copper towards the end of the 19th century. It was an important discovery and a lucrative one too. Copper is more expensive and has more rewards than we can fathom. Proceeds from our copper and the beautiful mineral itself have gone on to build nations out there, revive economies other than ours, and even build cities. There is still a huge demand for our copper out their more than a century later and we still have plenty of it in our soils…. Therein lies the curse.”
Rev Samboh recalled that successive Zambian leaders see the country’s priced copper as collateral to help them achieve short term political fixes.
He noted that Zambia still relies on copper and see it as its economic mainstay.
“We continue to talk about diversification and moving away from copper, but we never get to move. Copper is a poisoned cup. It is every president’s comfort zone. It is, by implication, the main contributor to our GDP,” he noted.
On the other hand, Rev Samboh noted that the leader of Dubai, Sheikh Muhammed Bin Al Maktoum, used oil to fire up that economy.
He said Al Maktoum used the oil to unlock the potential of his territory in all areas.
“Dubai viewed their priced resource as a tool which they could use to unlock the territory’s economic potential. In contrast, we view our priced commodity as collateral that we keep and use in talking to investors, other nations and multilateral lending institutions,” Rev Samboh said.
He said Zambia needs to shift in terms of how it thinks about its copper, precious stones and Mukula timber, among other natural resources.
Rev Samboh insisted that Zambia had wealth and was rich.
“Zambia’s children can do great things. We must stop looking at these God-given resources as collateral to be used to access loans for fixing ourselves during hard times. We must start to think of these resources as our trigger into untold wealth. We must use this wealth to ignite Zambia’s potential as a leading nation in Africa and beyond,” he said. “For instance, the President’s desk at State House should be beautifully made from a combination of these beautiful resources Mukula (rosewood), copper, precious stones. We should find a way to make products out of our resources. Initially our works will not be as attractive, but we shall perfect the art as we go along. Look at what has happened to China. They have progressed and improved their wares, now they make stuff so perfectly. We also shall do the same.”
Rev Samboh urged the country to put its youths to work hard in the mines.
“Let us legally harvest the mukula while developing seed and replanting it. Our scientists and engineers can lead this revolution,” he said. “We must earn our money from our resources as opposed to using our resources as collateral.”
Rev Samboh urged the nation to work hard to double, even treble the output from the mines.
He said the same could be done with maize production.
“We can move it from 3.6 million metric tonnes to seven million metric tonnes. We can do this. This mindset change alone will generate jobs, money and a reasonable life for most of our people. We have to demand national changes in terms of application to tasks, attitude to work, and use of our time,” he said. “We seriously must criminalise, at the very least frown upon laziness. We must once again regulate the time to sell alcohol and how much can be consumed. We must frown upon every retrogressive tendency of any kind so that all our people can always wake up to some occupation.”
Rev Samboh noted that Zambians had a very careless sense of entitlement, no wonder they could expert free education from nowhere.
He said if citizens work hard together, the nation shall expect quality but affordable education as opposed to free education.
Rev Samboh said the task that President Hichilema and his administration have was to ignite “this mind set change”.
“Fire up this economy Sir; this nation needs a revolutionary change and not a cosmetic one. Our people need to migrate to a high set of values. Zambians need to be re-educated on a reasonable work ethic,” he said. “Most need to be educated on honest profit and tax obligations. We need to start to care for our neighbours, our environment and our nation. These are the combined values that fired up Dubai, Singapore, Japan etc.”
Rev Samboh said anything less than that shift would not bring the country any dividends to talk about.
“Mr President, you now occupy a position of power. It is a position you can use to influence a nation. Don’t spare any lengths, give it your all. There is too much lazing around, too
much dirt, too many shortcuts, too much lethargy and all these crippling vices,” said Rev Samboh. “C’mon Mr President, spur this nation. There is no public order Act to stop you from going anywhere in our country now. There is no one who can talk about you without considering that you are the number one citizen. So, go everywhere and make things happen,” said Rev Samboh.