Columnists

Too reckless with our natural resources

TEMBO

Analysis: FELIX TEMBO
NOT long ago, people in the northern parts of Zambia used to practise a type of farming called chitemene system.

This is a type of shifting cultivation where a piece of land is used for three seasons.
Basically, farmers would chop off tree branches and burn them to provide potash, which would regulate soil acidity and unlock soil nutrients temporarily.
This is a retrogressive type of cultivation which should not be tolerated today. If anyone is seen practising chitemene, that person must be arrested and charged with ‘treason’. Just imagine, in their quest to grow chinangwa (cassava), they were chopping off the mukula tree, which is a ‘hot cake’ today.
It is not only the chitemene system which is destructive in Zambia, but many other things are, too! We are very bad as a nation at managing our natural resources.
We are a very greedy generation because we only think of our stomachs today and not the stomachs of unborn Siamese twins, for instance.
Just look around you and see how you have recklessly mismanaged the natural resources. This has even extended to the investments we have put up for ourselves.
Recently I was moving along Kasangula Road from the junction at the Catholic church in Roma to Heroes (Great North Road) junction. What I saw made me sad.
There is a drainage just before NorthGate Gardens. The people living in Mandevu, adjacent to that drainage, have been throwing garbage into that drainage such that some parts of the drainage have been destroyed by water that is being blocked. Those people living at least 100 metres adjacent to that road must be made to pay so that the drainage is repaired and all the rubbish thrown around it must be cleaned by the same people.
Sometimes I do wonder why our government is even begging the World Bank to lend us money. We have so much money in this country that, if we managed it well, we could start giving loans to countries such as Malawi, Botswana and Chad. I don’t want to talk about copper today. I was taken aback the other day to learn that Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) is failing to pay its workers. The problem we have as Zambians is that we are too lazy to think. We just want to have quick and easy money.
We have forests rich in mukula tree and we have a youthful population with most of it unemployed. This is an opportunity we must grab to create all kinds of jobs. Exports of mukula should be banned completely and investors should come and open factories here in Zambia. Just send two people to study the mukula value chain in China and come and implement the ideas. What is technology benefiting Zambia if we can’t even make our own furniture?
Secondly, the Ministry of Mines needs to be on top of things and tell us the truth. We know that Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania have oil. How can it be that we don’t have that commodity when we are surrounded by these countries? Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Congo DR have diamonds. Why don’t we have diamonds here? From my Grade 10 physical geography, it is clear that we must have oil and diamonds here in Zambia. We have allowed companies to be exploring for these resources for over 10 years and they keep taking out samples for analysis without telling us the results. People are mining under the pretext of exploring minerals and oil. We are so reckless with our natural resources as though they are renewable. Do we know that the money they pay for exploration fees is nothing compared to what they are getting out? Let’s wake up!
This author is an agribusiness practitioner. ftembo2001@gmail.com


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