By Fanny Kalonda
SOCIALIST Party president Fred M’membe says no matter how many foreign investors are brought Zambia will never have big armies of mine workers it used to have.
He noted that with industry, banks and other sectors of the economy not creating sufficient and quality jobs, “our survival will depend on increasing agricultural production and agro-processing”.
“If Africa’s largest nickel producer can only employ approximately 700 full staff members, what does this tell us? And the other month we quietly lost 350 mining jobs in Chililabombwe – without our leaders saying anything. What does this tell us?” Dr M’membe wondered. “The truth, the reality is that no matter how many foreign investors we bring in, we will never have those big armies of mine workers we used to have.
Today a few pieces of high-tech equipment wipe out thousands of mining jobs. The big numbers of workers we used to have on commercial farms are also gone. They have been replaced by more efficient machines – combine harvesters, digitalised tractors navigated by satellite.”
He called for investing in peasant agriculture, prioritising quality education up to university level, and investing big in health services for Zambians.
“There cannot be dignity without a job, a solid roof over one’s head; without meaningful access to land,” said Dr M’membe. “The many jobs we used to have in the banks are gone forever and ever.
Amen! And with industry, banks and other sectors of our economy not creating sufficient and quality jobs, our survival will depend on increasing agricultural production and agro-processing.
Very little, if not nothing, will be achieved without investing much in peasant agriculture, without prioritising quality education up to university level, and without investing big in health services for our people.”