It is amazing that a former minister in the Zambian Government could condemn a deliberate decision to empower Zambians over foreigners engaging in menial business undertakings as being illegitimate.
What is illegitimate about a Government protecting its nascent business community?
What is illegitimate about stopping foreigners from selling chickens at the market and making blocks in preference of leaving these activities to Zambians?
The legitimacy of any Government lies in its ability to defend and protect the wishes and interests of the people. This is a moral obligation that transcends the law.
That such an unjust law as apartheid subsisted on the books did not make it legitimate. It was fought and brought down.
The Government has to be proactive and defend the outbreak of any form of xenophobia in which locals feel marginalised and disadvantaged because they cannot command the resources seemingly available to foreigners.
We have a perfect example in South Africa where over-liberal policies have been questioned with disastrous consequences. When government fails to respond, citizens take it upon themselves to correct the perceived wrong, often at the cost of law and order. This should not be allowed in Zambia.
Government decision to reserve some business activities to Zambians did not arise from a vacuum; it came from genuine concerns by Zambians. If Mr. Patel cared to mingle with ordinary Zambians he would have known the deep feelings that Zambians hold of foreigners participating in menial business.
In reserving menial trade the Zambian Government is responding to widespread despondency at the mushrooming of foreign traders crowding out Zambians who are unable to compete effectively because they do not have the means.
Already the Government insists that Zambian contractors must be given 20 percent of sub-contracts to ensure equity.
No responsible Government, accountable to the people, will leave its poor and under privileged at the wiles and whims of those who have the privilege, ability and wherewithal to pursue secondary production.
Mr Patel boasts that he was an authority on the CEEC law as he introduced it in Parliament and does not allow leaders to “bark out” policy and expect it to be implemented.
This intemperate language is totally unacceptable and certainly unZambian. We respect each other and indeed respect the leadership even if we disagree. Mr. Chishimba Kambwili as Minister of Information speaks for and on behalf of Government therefore an insult directed at him is directed at the Government.
It will be criminal for the Government to abandon the poor in order to appease the foreign minority in observing nebulous laws. After all, laws are made for the people and not people for laws. What matters is the spirit of the law.
Therefore if the CEEC has stupid and foolish clauses that take away and therefore disable local entrepreneurs, then the most logical step is to amend and remove such offending laws.
Secondly the tone and character of Mr. Patel’s language is un Zambian and therefore demeaning. Civility must character exchange of opinions.
If Mr Patel had not been to Parliament and was not a minister before, we could have accused him of being an ignorant senior citizen.
But fortunately, Mr Patel understands law-making and he can effectively contribute to meaningful debate if he took a neutral stand.
When the Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili announced Cabinet’s decision to ban foreigners from directly participating in the selling of live birds and the general poultry industry, he put six months as the gestation period for the new measure.
Is Mr Patel telling Zambians that Government would in the next six months fail to put in place a law to back the ban if all what was needed was legal backing?