Bwana Mukubwa PF member of parliament Jonas Chanda says China has always been there for Zambia unlike the western countries whose aid comes with conditionalities meant to undermine the independence of Africans.
And Dr Chanda says the Patriotic Front government has done a lot more in terms of infrastructure development in just five years compared to what the UNIP government did during its 27-year tenure.
Speaking when he featured on a QTV show dubbed Command Centre, Tuesday evening, Dr Chanda slammed critics for saying that China was exploiting Africans, saying in fact, China was Africa’s true friend.
“Zambia and China have always enjoyed very good bilateral trade relations. China is a very good development partner and under UNIP when Dr Kaunda was President, Ian Smith and the Apartheid regime blocked Zambia from trading in the route down South, we had the UDI (Unilateral Declaration Independence). Ian Smith and racists regime in Southern Rhodesia which is now Zimbabwe blocked us because we were a landlocked country. So Zambia was basically taken on an economic suicide mission by the Apartheid regime and China is the one that came to help Zambia to have the TAZARA, TAZAMA oil pipeline because Zambia was meant to collapse economically. China has always been there, it holds Zambia in very high esteem,” Dr Chanda said.
“I know the criticism from the West like Europe and America, they say Chinese are exploiting Africans. But themselves colonised Africa for many years, we were colonised by the British, others by Germany, others by the French and we know how underdeveloped Africa was when these colonial powers were leaving, very backwards. China has been a very good partner to Africa, other countries just lecture, before they give you something they will lecture you [to say], no bring gay rights, bring this. But the Chinese are not involved in our politics. So I think to me, China and Zambia have very good bilateral relations. Our two Presidents are very close and this is a challenge also to Europe and America to also bring tangible development, they shouldn’t just be talking about all these issues that they talk about especially around elections because that’s when we hear the loudest voices from some of these countries. But China has always been their standing with us, but that said, Zambia should protect its interests and China has to protect its interests as well.”
And Dr Chanda boasted that there was no other party which could match PF in terms of infrastructure development.
“PF has done very well. If you compare PF to the previous governments, the only comparison we may make probably is UNIP at independence. When UNIP got independence in 1964, the country was very undeveloped, President Kaunda and his colleagues went ahead to do a lot of massive infrastructure works. But UNIP did it in so many years, they were in power for 27 years and PF has only been in power for roughly five years and we have done much more than what UNIP did in 27 years. So in short we have over performed both at national level and local level. President Lungu has turned Zambia into a construction hub and I can quote our Roan member of parliament who is now the NDC consultant, Chishimba Kambwili. When he was Chief Government Spokesperson, I remember the statement he used to make, he could say ‘everywhere where you throw a stone, it lands on a PF project’. So even the people who are now opposing government do acknowledge that in terms of infrastructure, there is no part of the country where you don’t see the visible part,” Dr Chanda said.
Dr Chanda said it was hard to point at any development that had been left by the MMD government despite ruling for 20 years because they concentrated more on “balancing books”.
“It’s very difficult to point at infrastructure left by MMD today. At least for UNIP yes because most of the infrastructure that you see in Zambia was done by UNIP. MMD I think they went for pure…I don’t know if its capitalist policies, balancing books. But with PF, if you look at all the major infrastructure that we have done, like the link Zambia itself. It’s a programme actually that is the thrust of the PF government, the linking of all these towns. If you go to Western Province, you have the Mongu-Kalabo road which is one of the best roads on the continent today, you go to Chingola, there is the Chingola-Kitwe road…so there are all these projects in all the ten provinces there are roads that are connecting one town to the other. And this is very good for the movement of goods, services and people. The MMD yes they started something, I think they did some roads but with PF it’s been massive. Already as we speak, phase one of the urban township road projects (by AVIC international) is already underway of the Copperbelt. So I think we have done very well and credit has to be given,” he explained.
“We have had 20 years rule of MMD and you know how the infrustracture collapsed because under MMD, infrastructure was not like a major priority. I have worked outside the country and you can tell when you are in Botswana or in South Africa, just when you drive into Zambia the first indication…like for me who used to work in Botswana, look at the Kazungula road the way it was with potholes and people used to say ‘why is Zambia such a backward country?’ Because it’s the infrastructure that determines whether you are developed or not. In fact when you go to a developed country, the only deference between a developed country and an undeveloped country is the infrastructure. So PF has been in such a hurry.”