Economic analyst Chibamba Kanyama says Zambia is grappling with extreme poverty because of the absence of the private sector between 1969 and 1991 and the inability to harness the acquired skills.
In an interview with News Diggers, Kanyama who is Bridges Limited founder, also stressed the need for government to put in place a system of proper regulation to address exploitation of resources by the private sector.
“What I would say is that we have not fully harnessed the skills in the country since independence. We know that different governments have tried to harness these skill levels. Nationalisation in 1969 was a way of harnessing the skills. Getting Zambians to determine their Destiny, Zambians to be the leaders of the mines. Zambians to be the leaders of agriculture, Zambians to be the leaders of commerce and industry. Almost every sector was supposed to be led by a Zambian. I think those efforts were very genuine. Unfortunately they got affected by what I would call the economic land scape itself,” he said.
“Maybe the philosophy was not encouraging in its private initiative, because we should go beyond national leadership in order for us to be successful. We should Focus on the national policies, induce behaviours of innovation, of value addition. So the absence of the private sector in Zambia between 1969 and 1991 is evident that, just like the efforts of the Kaunda regime archive much in terms of education, much of it again was not achieved, given that private enterprises drive systems. And when we liberalised the economy, we had government playing its role on one hand and providing leadership on the other.”
Kanyama also said poor regulatory frameworks had also failed to address the exploitation of the country’s resources by the private sector, a situation he said had lead to more poverty.
“Government remains a policy maker, a policy shaper, creating the right environment, and of course getting the right taxes and those taxes going in the right direction. When you compare yourself to countries like Kenya which have been liberalised since independence, it’s GDP is much, much higher than we have. It’s higher that ours, the private sector is vibrant, it’s innovative, we find greater and many more leaders in Kenya. Kenya is performing in almost every sector. When you go and see who is leading the multi national companies such as the Coca-Cola, if you are looking at Africans playing a role in the world, Kenyans are more or less taking the lead. Why, because they are a product of private sector innovative culture that produces good leader. Their environment produces and shapes leadership. Leadership should go beyond national leadership,” said Kanyama.
“That’s why at Bridges Limited believe that we should produce leaders from these same parastatals provided. Competent people who can provide answers, self-believing individuals, risk takers, individuals who can focus the future and galvanise the energy going forward to produce more and more. That leadership is able to shape the Destiny of our parastatals. And you find combined with private sector and parastatals we are able to exploit most of these resources. Whether it’s uranium and everything, it’s really about leadership and not only national leadership, but private sector Leadership, quasi-institutional leadership.”