The day before I left Zambia this year, I had the honour of talking to my grandfather, who has a briliant mind. I was talking about how things were so unfair for Zambians and the usual “investors don’t pay tax.” Blah blah blah … This is what he told me. Every Zambian has access to the same investment portfolios as foreigners through the Zambia Development Agency. He also told me that Zambians, if they have a good investment plan, have access to loans through the Citizen’s Empowerment Commission. Sadly some people accessed the CEC, taken money and misused it. They have not achieved what they said they would, due to lack of discipline. Those unpaid loans are stolen money from public funds. I found out there’s even loans available in the agricultural sector if you want to upgrade irrigation, again, only available to Zambians. He also told me that while there was no transparency in how much foreign investors gave in royalties they did.
I was of the view that investors all got 5 year tax exemptions. I found out that day that the tax exemption is only applicable if you import equipment for use in the “investment” and Zambians too had access to those exemptions.
I remember, a few years back, my father told me about a farming project started by government to empower people of a certain area (won’t say where).The people the government was meant to empower were meant to put money back into the farm so that when government stopped funding it, they would still be able to run it. The farm started making money, and government funded the project for longer than the terms had stated.
The people involved apparently started living luxurious lives and some even started having affairs instead of growing the farm. Unfortunately, When government pulled funding as was meant to be the case, the project failed and people were up in arms. The project didn’t fail because of government but because we as a people, generally lack self discipline.
Why am I putting it all out there? Because we as a people have too many misconceptions about what we have and what government is and isn’t doing. We talk about colonial powers and how they bought our mines but we neglect to mention the part where we mismanaged the mines to a point that they needed selling. We are more responsible for our plight than we would like to admit, but it’s easier to deflect than look at where we fail.
Am I saying government has nothing to answer for? No! Am I saying that accessing the services I talked about is easy? No! I don’t know if it is, but how many of us have actually tried? My point is, question everything you hear and don’t be so quick to jump on the “victim” bandwagon. What are we doing as a nation? If whenever you have money, what you spend it on are sex/drinks/food/expensive clothes/expensive cars, what will change when you have these investments we cry foul over?
I hope that somehow this makes us all look inwardly and hope that we are able to ask for the wisdom to get ourselves out of ths rut we are in.