Columnists

Land: Our last asset

TEMBO

Analysis: FELIX TEMBO
AT INDEPENDENCE, Zambia’s population was just over three million.
The country had more assets than the population and each person could afford to own land not less than 0.25 square metres.
The amount of trees, fish, wild animals, minerals and other assets was immense. As mentioned in my last column, our economy was equivalent to, if not better than, that of South Korea.
Today, because of our greed and lack of fear of God, we have destroyed these important assets to the point that we all look forward to an opportunity to leaving this country for others.
However, not all hope is lost if we can come back to our senses and manage what is remaining.
In the 70s, Zambia was known for its copper and that was the industry where we used to get our money.
Currently, all the mines are in the hands of foreigners. We do not even know how much they are making because all the money realised from the proceeds of minerals is banked in offshore accounts.
We only remain with destruction like the sulphur dioxide pollution in Mufulira, the lead contamination in Kabwe and so many filongoma like those in Chingola. I have come to learn that we are a people that don’t love themselves. We have fallen for destruction of our own environment in a corrupt way never seen before. Much as this is the status quo, we are remaining with one asset and that is land. Of all the factors of production, land is the most important. Our land is so fertile with abundant fresh water for irrigation with good sweet vegetation that can support production of different livestock. Our forests are endowed with the best forests products such as the mukula tree and honey. This is the last resource we are remaining with and the most important. Therefore, we need to manage it so prudently with sober minds. If we have to dig deep in history, we will find out that both the world wars were fought because of land. The current problems that are in Syria are not because people want to be presidents but it is because of land which is rich in oil and uranium if not mistaken.
Our land, just like in other countries many in Africa has oil, uranium, diamonds, gold, cobalt and rich soil nutrients. People are travelling thousands of miles to come and buy our land not that there is no land where they are coming from; they have heard how our land is rich. As a people, we need to be careful of how we dispose of this land to foreigners at the expense of indigenous Zambians. No country will be a colony of another like it was in the 1800s but colonisation has now taken a new twist. We cannot talk of the economy in this country but we can raise our heads high when talking about land. We have enough time to make amends for the mistakes we made over proceeds of copper to administer land with sober minds. It is time we developed a land policy which favours the local people. This is the capital which we the locals can use to buy shares in companies. China, India, USA, UK and many others although more developed than us, they also have people that are homeless and live on less than a dollar a day. Let us open our eyes, sober up and be patriotic enough not to waste our land.
We are lucky to be found in this part of Africa but if our egos override the principle of being Zambians, we will have ourselves to blame just the same way we are blaming each other over the poor drainage in Lusaka. We should for once stop this indiscriminate sale of land.
Again, I emphasise that land is the only asset we are remaining with as a country and we need to manage it with caution. Land will not rot, so we shouldn’t be in a hurry to dispose of it.
This author is an agribusiness practitioner. ftembo2001@gmail.com

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