HARRY Kalaba has complained that politics has taken centre stage in doing business in Zambia. The Democratic Party (DP) president believes “business and politics don’t mix.”
He was speaking on the Chat Back programme on Christian Voice radio yesterday.
“Businessmen today feel they should be part of the PF for them to survive. [But] where is the link between a political party, with its own manifesto, and a businessman who is producing suits? Why does a businessman need to know the secretary general or a provincial chairman of the PF?”
“It’s because this is the way we have been dragged to believe that that’s how it ought to be. It should never be like that! politics has taken centre stage in doing business. If you are not politically correct, then it means you cannot get a contract. That kind of crap has to come to an end! China has got 1.8 billion people but there are only 300 million people who are members of the Communist Party of China. 1.5 billion people are not members of the Communist Party of China. How are their businesses surviving?”
Kalaba observed that Zambians that do not have enough money are failing to make it under the current economy.
He noted that Zambia needed to pick a leaf, especially from the Malaysian miracle.
“There is what they call the Malaysian Miracle. Malaysia managed to pull its people out of the doldrums to be where it is today; they have a system called Bumiputera (son of the soil/land). Bumiputera is basically a concept that insists on indigenous growth; that insists on the local entrepreneurs,” Kalaba, a former foreign affairs minister, explained.
“It protects the interests of the local people and the Prime Minister of Malaysia is actually the one who is even chairing the small-medium enterprises development council of Malaysia….”
He regretted that right now, Zambia’s economy was not in the hands of local entrepreneurs but foreign ones.
Kalaba noted that the government had failed to pull Zambians out of the poverty which: “they are going through.”
“We have elected to side with foreign investors. Yes, there is nothing wrong with having foreign direct investments, especially if it’s on our terms. But there’s everything wrong if it’s excluding the interests of our people,” Kalaba said.
“Our people need to be the reason why we are governing but today it is not the people that are the reason why the PF is governing. [But] it is the corporates and that is where the problem is. The Democratic Party seeks to change that mentality.”
He added that a DP government would ensure that small-medium enterprises were given chance at developing the Zambian economy.
“In Zambia today, the local industry is collapsing! Just like there was the Malaysian Miracle, there can also be a Zambian miracle. What is only required is a leadership that is focused and I and my colleagues are very focused on that issue,” said Kalaba.
“This country is blessed; 40 per cent of the water bodies in SADC is in Zambia. [But] how come we are crying wolf when there is no rain? We should have stopped talking about rain-fed agriculture a long time ago. We should have invested heavily in irrigation so that whether there is or no rain, we go on and cultivate.”