Stop the Privatization Talk, It Will Not Help the Zambian Economy

By Elias Munshya

When you are broke as a country, it matters where you are directing your energies and efforts. It makes no sense that at the time that one dollar is trading at K20, we should be wasting our brains and our common sense on a question that will not resolve the price of bread or the value of the Kwacha. It is not right to fix one Hakainde Hichilema, we should all lose our minds to try and bring the entire privatization exercise into disrepute. The President of those days and his cabinet had difficult decisions to make about selling all these loss-making enterprises. And deciding they did. They were decisive about it and had to get the job done. What we need now is to build on the strengths of a liberal economy to deliver an excellent economy to our people.

But instead of building on all these strengths, the Patriotic Front party has become a party of the digging into the past to fix a perceived enemy. We must fix our eyes on the future. First, we must come into grips with what is happening with our Copper. The President is expected to open parliament, and soon after that, the Minister of Finance will deliver the budget. One thing that is missing in much of our discussion is what the mukula is going on with Copper. Are these mines productive anymore? How much more time do we have at Konkola, and Mopani? Our population deserves to know the truth about the quality of our Copper, the quantity of our reserves and the fidelity of the machinery we are using to mine the Copper. Since independence, we were warned that the Copper we depended on was diminishing. We needed to begin diversifying. But we never listened to the sober voices among us. We continued treating Copper as if it will never finish. In any case, if this government ever wants to spend money on a useless commission of inquiry into privatization, they had better spend some cash into an honest analysis of where our Copperbelt stands.

After Copper, we must ask ourselves honest questions about our agriculture. The PF government talks a lot about agriculture but does tiny to help people in agriculture. In fact, it appears like the entire government has no idea what should be done to make this sector of our economy productive. Beyond buying inputs for farmers, we must ensure that we help our farmers get the top-notch machinery to help them with agriculture. We need to quickly recognize that with the changing of the rainfall patterns from the south of our country to the north, our efforts should be to encourage the north so that it becomes the future breadbasket, just like Southern Province was. But instead of taking tangible steps to invest in the earth, the PF government is busy moving up and down, giving the impression that they are working, when they are actually doing nothing much. Agriculture has a deficit of attention. I just hope that we will give it the attention it deserves going forward.

Zambia has some of the regions cheapest data rates. This is despite poor service. Cell phone towers have reached a good chunk of the interior. However, our education system in Zambia remains focussed on courses that cannot help drive an economy of the future. The government must lead the way by showing that it is willing to encourage investment in the technology sector. Technology is more than just installing state of the art cameras to arrest people peeing in the streets. We must ensure that we become a nation of IT, encoding, designs and much more. We need training that is focussed on making us work with technology. It is time to invest in technological education and other programs that support this sector.

Zambia has vast potential. But we must focus our efforts on things that help us. All this privatization talk will not help us at all. Those who think that it will help their narrow political interests are sadly mistaken.

The author, Elias Munshya, can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com.

3 comments

  • Thank you for this article Elias. I wish there was more transparency around copper. I was listening to the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speak at the UN General Assembly and he was speaking about resource depletion and debt relief for African countries. My initial response was that of disgust as I felt that China has a lot to do with our resource depletion but the truth is I don’t know the facts. I can speculate and as a Zambian citizen I hear stories of how cargo planes leave with copper that is unaccounted for but I have no evidence to say that these are not fabricated stories. It is worrying to feel that our leaders are partaking in corrupt copper dealings instead of giving us full transparency.
    I agree with you entirely on the need to diversify, even if I knew more about how we trade and what quantities we have of copper, I will always know that it is non-renewable and it would be far more comforting to know that our economic activities are not dependent on non-renewable resources take for instance the phenomenal cases of fellow African countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda. We need to focus on increasing ICT and STEM capacity for the youth.

  • It’s exhausting listening to discussions about the wrong things. We do need to focus our energy on moving forward instead of debating what are clearly distractions.

  • What you saying is true because education in Zambia is not good at all,children in school have to learn computer but in the government school they don’t have. In the government school children are very behind. Education has to be improved in Zambia, we have seen a lot malls and supermarket then schools. Mr president is think is doing the work by building the roads and bridges which are not even good. It’s a shame in Zambia. Thank you

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