Hopeful policies and Zambia

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Dear Editor,

The future I envision is one where provinces of my beloved country Zambia will each have their own set of laws especially those addressing employment creation (youth and women empowerment, more importantly) or economics of any one given place.

Subjecting SMEs and economical projects to the same factors and taxes (tweaked only a little in fewer instances) doesn’t seem to be ideally and effectively progressive.

One of the largest empowerment scheme drawing lots of wind and attention at the moment, and of course receiving support from the government assiduously is fish farming. A commendable project, collectively, and deserving of the assistance it’s receiving.

However, one will get to understand that the requisites for such assistance are being met in two parts by groups residing in two different areas: urban and rural—each with its own challenges. Those in urban areas are fortunate enough to easily access not only information (on financial assistance, best and recent farming methods as well as literature materials) but other accoutrements required for such an enterprise to either start or expand. These ‘privileges’ do not seem to play out well for those in rural areas.

Conversely, one of the most important requirements needed to secure financial assistance seems to favour those in rural areas: land. Now land much as it is readily available has got a different price tag attached to it in these two regions.

Most rural areas host what is termed as traditional land which is under the ownership of traditional leaders and is either donated or gifted to the state or individuals as these leaders see fit. This is cheaper even when it comes to acquiring it as compared to land under municipal structures.

Urban residents have this maelstrom to deal with when it comes to embarking on fish farming; a challenge peculiar to them more than they would wish.

What is more interesting is that, irrespective of these two challenges, each affixed to its own group of people, the underlying taxes or financial obligations to the state are nearly the same, if not at par.

How then do we honestly expect to ‘jumpstart’ businesses or enterprises by subjecting the fishermen of Luapula, the rice farmers of Mongu, the budding small scale miners of Copperbelt and the pineapple farmers of Mwinilunga to almost the same taxes and expect their respective industries to expand? We clearly have to tailor specific ‘intra-province laws’ that have to address the deficiencies the current system has stamped on us.

It’s a conversation we should perhaps be having in our homes, and more importantly our Parliament to mollify our many challenges as a country.  It appears we have been too busy and preoccupied with frivolous issues to ad nauseum that we have forgotten that iconoclastic views can sometimes change a lot and redefine our way of life. Again, let us have more of this conversation and exchange notes.

Bring in the cognoscente and have them satiate us with what we need to address this: one step at a time until we are there. We shall eventually get there but let it be sooner than later.

Alfred Lukwesa.

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