There was once a time in history when Zambia was a prosperous country, with many job opportunities, a high standard of living, good hospitals, good schools, good roads, a strong currency and a strong economy.
This was during the time that Dr Kenneth Kaunda was president.
Indeed there were shortcomings to his strategy that led to inefficiencies in the economy, but the overall idea was great.
SO HOW DID DR KENNETH KAUNDA DO IT?
Dr Kenneth Kaunda from the onset of his presidency identified that the key to Zambia’s success was through the country’s mineral wealth.
He nationalized the mines, and took control of the mineral wealth revenues for and on behalf of the people of Zambia. He created ZCCM to manage the country’s mineral wealth.
WHAT DID HE DO WITH THE MINERAL WEALTH?
1: He used the mineral wealth to build hospitals, schools, roads, railways, libraries, parks, local banks key infrastructure and other social services.
2: He used the mineral wealth to create industry all over the country.
First and foremost he established Ndola city as the manufacturing hub of Zambia, while Lusaka was developed to be the administrative and political centre of the nation.
For those who are young, you may wonder why Ndola city has so many old ghost buildings especially as you enter Ndola from Kapiri Mposhi.
All those used to be busy factories and plants, employing hundreds of thousands of Zambians in well paying jobs.
Dr Kaunda also established many trade schools that trained Zambians in blue collar jobs such as carpentry, bioler making, artsisanship and operating various types of machinery.
NDOLA had dozens of big manufacturing companies such as Dunlop, Colgate Palmolive, Rover Zambia Ltd, Mazembe, TATA Zambia, ROP, Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturing industries including steel and pharmaceutical companies.
In addition to this Dr. Kaunda established at least one big industry or company in many districts, which would produce goods that would be sold in other parts of the country.
For example, we had Luangwa bicycles, Mununshi banana scheme, Mwinilunga Pineapple canneries, Mansa batteries, Kalulushi clay bricks, Kapiri Glass, Zamefa in Luanshya, Mpulungu Harbour, Mumbwa cotton ginneries, Zambezi saw mills, Mulungushi Textiles, Kafue Textiles, Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia, Zambia Sugar, UBZ, Mulungushi Travellers etc.
This was a very smart strategy that achieved two very important objectives, these being ;
1: It enables the development of rural distant towns by allowing them access to the national wealth. In short, he was able to distribute the wealth of the country to areas that could not generate their own wealth.
2: It reduced on mass migration from rural towns to cities like Lusaka and the Copperbelt. People were able to find employment within their own home districts.
WHERE WOULD THE PRODUCE FROM THESE FACTORIES BE SOLD?
The KK economic structure was very robust and well organized, he established state owned supermarket chains like ZCBC, NIEC and Mwaiseni Stores. They were dotted all over the country.
For those who are too young, you may wish to know that alot of the old Shoprite and PEP shops once belonged to ZCBC or Mwaiseni Stores.
These supermarket chains were equally as strong as Shoprite is today, and they stocked almost 100% locally produced goods.
HOW DID THESE INDUSTRIES COLLAPSE?
Quite simply it was for a few reasons ;
1: Most of them operated as monopolies, they had no competition, as a result they were not innovate enough to move with the times, they started to become obsolete.
2: They were heavily subsidized, the heavy subsidies meant that management of these companies were not held accountable when the companies were making losses because the subsidies would keep the companies afloat.
3: When President Frederick Chiluba came to office, his goal was to destroy and dismantle every single thing that Kaunda had built. Instead of restructuring these companies to overcome their inefficiencies, he opted to privatize these companies to foreigners and strip them of their assets.
This along with government corruption in successive governments has been the cause of suffering, unemployment, poverty and lack of investment in Zambia.
Hundreds of thousands of Zambians lost their jobs during the privatization process, many were never paid their benefits as these companies were liquidated.
This opened the door to foreign companies like Shoprite, foreign banks and foreign institutions to move into Zambia and suck the wealth out of this country. While our local companies and local banks which provided employment and cheap loans to our citizens collapsed, foreign entities moved in to fill the void with exploitative and slave wages for our people.
This was also the beginning of the collapse of the kwacha, whose impact we still feel today.
WHAT DOES THE NDC LEARN FROM THIS, WHAT’S THE WAY FORWARD?
History is the best teacher, we know what went right and what went wrong, we now know the dos and donts.
As NDC our key message focuses on industrialization.
The NDC President Dr Chishimba Kambwili has declared that once the party is elected to government, we will embark on an ambitious program to industrialize the country.
We will adopt many of the ideas of the Kaunda government such as establishing state owned enterprises and factories, and spreading them out all over the country in order to provide employment, distribute wealth and make all corners of the country economically active.
This is the only way that Zambians will have employment, hunger ended, good Healthcare and good educational facilities.
We don’t propose to nationalize the mines, we will simply restructure the national budget to free up resources to establish these industries.
For example, instead of building a $320 Million airport in Ndola, we would use that money to establish 30 massive agricultural ranches around the country similar to the Mpongwe development scheme.
The simple rule is that we will only invest national funds into investments that offer good returns, if it’s not profitable for the country, we won’t invest in it. For example, we would not build a railway line from Chipata to Serenje for $2 Billion because it’s not viable, that money will be better spent establishing factories in towns like Serenje to provide employment to local people,and these companies will be able to sustain themselves and generate revenue to repay the loans, the loans would not be repaid from tax revenues.
We won’t operate monopolies, we will operate in a free competitive market, so that our companies can be innovative and managed efficiently.
We will establish large retail chains that will rival Shoprite and that will sell predominantly Zambian goods, that way we can preserve jobs for Zambians and reduce on the bleeding of foreign currency to other countries, and thus strengthen the kwacha in the long term.
To conclude, we are asking Zambians of all walks of life to put faith in the NDC, we are the only party that has the drive, vision, will and ambition to transform this country into an industrialized country, we have a party president in Dr Chishimba Kambwili who has a heart for the people and who is determined to industrialize this country.
We are in the final stages of developing our party manifesto, and once it is unveiled you will see for yourselves how superior our party manifesto is compared to other political parties.
It is a thorough document that explains in logical detail our plans of how we will develop Zambia.