It is heartening that the Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development, Christopher Yaluma, has taken pragmatic steps in resolving the energy gridlocks threatening productivity and jobs in the mining sector.
It required definitive action to coordinate competing interests which were bound to contend and in the process nullify any positive development.
It is important to note that the energy crisis is not peculiar to Zambia alone. Zimbabwe has a similar problem including extracting more water from Kariba than the contractual agreement provides.
South Africa has far more intractable problems which Eskom has failed to manage, but fortunately the South African economy is more robust and has managed to sustain a comparable economic activity that has withstood the shock of climatic change.
We commend the minister because our political climate has become more divisive and to a very large extend highly polarized. An impression is being given that Zambia has regressed into a banana republic where the economy has failed and stagnated.
These sentiments must be seen in the context of the 2016 elections. There is, however, life beyond politics. The Bembas say “icalo tacitalala nga musunga”.
We have crafted for ourselves a multi party democracy where political diversity is the norm entailing therefore robust debates over every decision taken by Government. But the electorate looks up to the executive to provide governance, nurture and support for growth, development and satisfaction of the social contract.
Like the Biblical Moses in the desert, the Israelites could not see beyond their immediate travails as being insurmountable and therefore wanted to choose the easier route of returning to Egypt. Divine power urged them on. Development is not instantaneous, it takes time, effort and above all resilience. It is an investment that matures overtime.
It took Dangote close to four years to mature because capital projects by their very nature have long gestation periods, during which there is little to show especially to those who believe in instant gratification.
This government which has proclaimed to be pro-poor has a duty to account itself to the people next year by providing answers, examples and projects that have been successfully completed to justify re-election into office. This requires hard decisions, not always populist, but pragmatic, feasible and well intentioned.
This requires that the Government must invest in prop-poor inclusive growth that must direct itself at creating real wealth and jobs for the people of Zambia.
And undoubtedly by rehabilitating and upgrading the country’s infrastructure the Government will go a long way in restoring the confidence of the Zambian people who are ever vigilant and mindful of the constraints and positive potential that our country holds to foster real development that thrives in the climate of peace and tranquility.
The commissioning of Dangote is a very good start, because cement is a major component of economic development as it sits at the heart of infrastructure development.
Nearly all projects now, including roads will depend on cement, whose price will significantly decline as the commodity floods the market.
It is our hope that the government will truly meet the high expectations of the Zambian people around the country who are witnessing the massive infrastructure development that has brought jobs.
Government should not fall into the trap of empty political polemics designed to derail and demoralize. Zambians expect much more from this Government and it has the opportunity of doing so.