There are no miracles in turning economy around – Ndola Diocese

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There is nothing like miracles happening overnight when it comes to the economy, the Right Reverend Dr. Benjamin Phiri, Bishop of Ndola Diocese has said.

Addressing President Hakainde Hichilema during mass on Sunday when the head of state congregated at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Ndola, Bishop Phiri said that while one would hope for the investments and infrastructure developments the government was implementing on the Copperbelt to work faster, matters of the economy needed to follow their own course.

“There’s nothing like miracles happening overnight in terms of the economy. It has to follow its steps. If it [the economy] was in the doldrums it will take the required time to get out of the doldrums,” he stated.

He said they were aware the government was working on many things, but they wanted a commitment that the benefits would be fairly and equitably distributed to the people.

“What we want is a commitment from the government officials who are tasked with that, and we urge that in all these [developments] the benefits that will accrue will be based not on where one hails from but rather because one is a Zambian so that we can all benefit from what is rightfully ours. That is why we got independence,” stated Bishop Phiri.

He noted that the recent investments he has heard are happening on the Copperbelt were gratifying because the Copperbelt drives the national economy.

“We appreciate the infrastructure development in terms of roads and other infrastructure that are on the drawing board. Some of them are beginning, some of them we have seen beginning…I’m talking about the Copperbelt since that’s where I am, that’s the constituency I represent,” he said.

He also advised that Zambians should be given priority for labour and that foreign labour must not take jobs that locals are well able to do.

“We don’t want to see a Chinese man pushing a wheelbarrow. Pick any young person from the community, they’ll be able to push a wheelbarrow. So why should it be pushed by somebody who is imported labour? Let them do those areas which we are unable to do, but we should learn from them so that come tomorrow, Mr. President, we’d like to own all these mines and everything and run them ourselves.”

He said he was aware that the government plans to own majority shares in most of these [mining] investments, and that’s how it should be.

“Those people from outside should just be coming to beg us for business, and we sell it to them not us begging from them when the property is ours. I think we look forward to that,” the Bishop stated.
He observed that the investments would bring relief to the communities, which were looking to find meaningful employment.

“We are looking forward to it so that we may benefit [from it] because investment isn’t much good to us unless we are also benefitting from it and we would like to benefit from it,” Bishop Banda reiterated.

During his working visit to the Copperbelt from 10 to 14 April, President Hichilema broke ground on the imminent resuscitation of 28 Shaft in Luanshya, a mine that was shut down 20 years ago. He also flagged off the construction of the 35-kilometre Chingola-Chililabombwe-Kasumbalesa road – a critical trade route between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The road will cost US$31 million and will be constructed under a public-private partnership.

Mr. Hichilema commissioned Buteko Market in Mufulira and Chifubu Level 1 mini hospital in Ndola, the first ever. He also met with various economic sector players, including transporters, drivers, miners, suppliers and contractors.

The head of state also handed over more than 1,200 waterborne toilets, shower facilities, and a sewer network in Kwacha constituencies. This is the first time the beneficiary households will enjoy these facilities since pre-independence. The sewer network will benefit Kitwe, Chambishi, and Kalulushi.

President Hichilema also commissioned 30 commercial boreholes donated from his personal funds to Copperbelt University, Mukuba University, and Bupe Ward of Kamfinsa Constituency.

By Siphiwe Zulu

Kalemba April 17, 2024

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