Editor's Comment

Quick action on China deals, non-negotiable

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the official opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing. PICTURE: THOMAS NSAMA/ STATE HOUSE

ZAMBIA, like many other developing countries, has a long way to go in its development journey.
While steady progress has been made, there is still much more that needs to be done to transition the country to a developed one.
To accelerate development, all citizens need to embrace a proactive and action-oriented mindset.
As a country that got independent over 50 years ago, we can no longer be comfortable with a tag of poverty and underdevelopment.
We need more patriotic Zambians who will be eager to sacrifice and execute any initiative that promises to deliver development.
It is unfortunate that while Government has endeavoured to come up with good initiatives to develop the country, some technocrats in charge of implementation have been a let-down.
Complaints of civil servants’ bad attitude towards work have become a proverbial song in the ears of many Zambians.
It is saddening that there are so many brilliant ideas and agreements that have ended up gathering dust on shelves in people’s offices.
As a country that is yearning for development, we cannot afford to have a laissez-faire attitude and squander any opportunity with potential to actualise our development agenda.
The directive by President Edgar Lungu for all minsters who have signed agreements on behalf of Zambia with various Chinese companies to immediately start implementing the deals is certainly welcome and should be adhered to by all those concerned.
During the just-ended Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, President Lungu and a delegation of ministers clinched trade and economic deals aimed at complementing development efforts as enshrined in the Seventh National Development Plan.
Some of the major agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) that have been signed are:
A Chinese Government grant to Zambia, of US$30 million for supply of electricity to the Lusaka East Multi-facility Economic Zone; and
A US$30 million interest-free loan for economic cooperation to facilitate the reconstruction of Mulungushi Conference Centre in readiness for the African Union heads of State summit in 2022.
President Lungu and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping facilitated the signing of three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on economic and technical cooperation, the protocol for the export of Zambian honey to China and Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative is the Chinese government international project to connect its country to 70 countries through rail and road networks.
Among the business agreements signed are the assessments and preparation of bankable feasibility studies and implementation of Lusaka Mass Transit Railway Corridor project, which will see the construction of a transit railway link to reduce congestion on the roads of Lusaka.
Government also signed two agreements with Huawei to build a better-modernised Zambia. The two MoU’s on National Broadband Access Project and Smart Zambia Phase three project will promote connectivity and modernisation to the telecommunications sector.
These are good deals which if implemented will certainly turn the wheels of development in our country.
President Lungu is concerned that any delay in implementing these deals could derail the purpose for which they were signed.
For instance, the construction of a conference centre is time-bound given that it must be ready for the African Union heads of State summit in 2022.
Any delays in implementation will affect Zambia’s capacity and readiness to host the AU summit.
Given that these deals are drawing resources from a pool fund of US$60 billion which China has allocated for the entire continent, Zambia should work smartly and fast to benefit more.
There is therefore no time to relax; all those charged with the responsibility to implement the deals must hit the ground running.
The sooner we implement the deals the sooner we start reaping the benefits.
Ministers involved have the responsibility to ensure that technocrats in their ministries give these deals the attention they deserve.
They should ensure that no one and nothing stands in the way of implementation.
If we fail to materialise these deals posterity will certainly judge us harshly.
The head of State has spoken, let those with ears hear.

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