By Ngobola Muyembe
The Construction works in Zambia was a way of stimulating the economy and had it been handled properly, the impact of Covid we are trying to mitigate now couldn’t have been this severe.
The idea was to start road works with 100% of the contracts going to Zambian companies and that way all the money borrowed would have stayed in this country to start a new crop of middle class Zambians. Small companies would have grown to become competitive.
It does not matter whether they would have had the capacity at the time or not because they would have grown with time and experience just like the way Chinese companies like Mei Mei grew.
However, some very bad Zambians heavily energised with petty jealousy pushed for open tenders to include heavy hitters like Avic and all the other big monstrous companies with huge financial backing making it impossible for the small Zambian companies to compete.
How do you give a company owned by the Chinese government a contract from the Zambian government? That is pure senselessness because it is at the expense of your own small businesses. They may be able to do the job better but that will just suffocate your own companies.
The slogan more money in your pocket meant just that. Pavers were supposed to be supplied by small Zambian contractor and not Turkish Bricklayers or Mei Mei. The stones were supposed to come from the old ladies who crush stones by the road sides who would have been given small crushers and with time they would have grown into organised suppliers since money would have been coming their way.
But instead you go and get Arab Contractors and give them a quarry! What is so complicated about crushing stones because our own ladies have demonstrated that it isn’t?
But people like Harry Kalaba and Rupiah Banda went to Turkey to get the unemployed brick layers to come to Zambia and take the spot of our Zambian women.
Now we are talking about the stimulus from the Bank of Zambia. Who will gobble up that money if it is injected into the economy and where will it end up?
To stimulate you need to spend it on something like a bridge, road or building. Which companies with line up to claim they have the capacity? Here you MUST discriminate as this is about survival of your own people. They did it in America were it was forbidden to spend Federal Funds on foreign companies during the recession and even under Corvid!
Some of these things ought to be thought through before you destroy your country in broad day light.
In America during the recession the government came up with a program they called TARP which meant Troubled Assets Relief Program. They simply bailed out American companies that would have collapsed if left alone.
They later included people who had old cars in what they called cash for clunkers which was program that provided financial incentives to car owners to trade in their old, less fuel-efficient vehicles and buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. The idea was to give people money so that they can buy new cars.
But those cars were only supposed to be from American car makers like Ford, Chrysler e.t.c. That is how Ford Company survived to even make their Ford Ranger marketable in Africa.
They used that crisis to propel up their own companies and people and even sabotaged Toyota in the hope that it gets no Federal funds. From nowhere Toyota Prius was accelerating abnormally and the Chairman of that company was dragged before Congress to apologise.
So, that stimulus that has caused the departure of Kalyalya unfortunately should not be given to foreign companies or cadres but to the serious hard working Zambian people so that they can start businesses such as farming, brick making, stone crushing and small construction companies if the government will spend on more infrastructure.
That is when the slogan of more money in your pocket will truly come to life. I must emphasize that from these funds you must exclude foreign companies because if you make that mistake, you will be propping up foreign countries and their middle class.
Do not let this crisis go to waste by caderising the process but know the real meaning to stimulate the economy. It means you give money to a Zambian so that he can go and buy from a Zambian company and keep it operational for it to afford to pay its workers.
That is what they did in America and Europe. Pakwakana ubunga tapaba nsoni (When sharing mealie meal in times of famine you don’t need to be shy)