Economist Dr Lubinda Habazoka has urged government to step it’s foot in the mining industry to ensure that it exploits meaningful revenue from the sale of copper.
And Dr Habazoka says those who privatised companies in Zambia will continue to be haunted by their mistakes even in their graves because they are responsible for the suffering of many Zambians.
Reflecting on how the country has performed economically since the independence of Africa from colonial powers, Dr Habazoka said Zambia does not have any control over it’s economy whatsoever because everything was being controlled by foreign powers.
“The Zambian economic development can be broken down into three stages, the first stage was just after independence after 1991 and during that period, we saw the establishment of structures to support our economy. I think we scored very well but unfortunately, the economic set up could not allow development in the new world. Then the transitional period from 1991 to 2000 has been one of the worst in Zambia’s history. Despite being a period of liberalising the economy, we unfortunately sold off all our assets to foreign control. To a level whereby in the third period from 2000 to date, we do not control our economy whatsoever. So looking at the freedom, I think that we still do not control the private sector because much of it is controlled by foreign companies, especially the mining companies that are literally milking us of God-given wealth,” Dr Habazoka said.
And Dr Habazoka regretted that the current economy could not provide jobs for Zambians citizens.
Meanwhile, he stressed the need for a mixed economy that would see government stepping it’s foot into the mining industry to ensure that revenue from the sale of copper was exploited.
“In terms of employment, I think the past three years has seen the concentration and strengthening of immigration laws that have somehow protected Zambians and empowered them to get top position, especially in quasi government institutions. But unfortunately, our economy has not grown to provide employment to the many unemployed people and we have failed to formalise the agricultural sector which employees 80 per cent of the labour force. We need to find a way also to provide suitable accommodation for our citizens. We need a national programme that is going to eradicate shanty compounds, the only way we can do that is by taking control of all mineral resources mined in this country. I am a capitalist but I still think that we need mixed economy and we need government to step it’s foot in the mining industry to ensure that government exploits revenue from the sale of copper,” Dr Habazoka said.
“We need to ensure that we take control of our economy, the fact that we don’t own the mines puts us at the mess of capital markets where we need to rush to and borrow money to implement projects. But that needs support of citizens to ensure that citizens also support government in case of any harsh sanctions that might come from the so-called cooperating partners. We need to revolutionise the way we run business. We need to take advantage of Chinese investment by putting up favourable terms when we are negotiating to ensure that that money is literally channeled towards useful sectors of the economy and there is a creation of real jobs. So as much we are shifting from Breton woods institutions, we need to find partners that are going to work with us on mutual benefits because in an economy, everybody has to benefit. Now that can’t be done unless all the citizens of the country, hold hands together to push the agenda forward.”
And Dr Habazoka said those who had privatised the country’s mines would not rest in peace.
“The mistake was made in the 1990s and the people that privatised our mines… that privatisation will continue haunting them to their graves. Because they sort of sold of the country to companies that have no heart for the people of the Republic of Zambia. The only thing they will give us are handouts in terms of corporate social responsibility. ZCCM was better equipped to run our mines and as at 1991, we made massive profit, profit in excess of $120 million. And for an economy whose GDP was less than a billion at that particular point that was a very big achievement,” said Dr Habazoka.