Sunday, July 08, 2007
By Namakau Nalumango in Ndola
Sunday July 08, 2007 [04:00]
PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa has urged European and western countries to stop treating African governments as infants in their dealings with China. And President Mwanawasa yesterday asked former miners who planned to demonstrate against Chambishi Mines’ intention to build a smelter not to go ahead because they were just going to discourage people who wanted to bring investment in the country.
Speaking on arrival at Ndola International Airport, President Mwanawasa wondered why it had become a major concern for the western countries to get concerned when African countries traded with China while it was alright for them to do so.
“I don’t know why it has become a major concern to the western countries. Unfortunately, our friends in the opposition have also jumped on the bandwagon to criticise as if they are prepared to offer better things,” he said.
“For the benefit of the opposition who do not know, Europe has trade with China. As of last year, UK exceeded its quota. So it is alright for them to import from China but wrong for us? Leave us alone. Stop treating us as adult infants. We are capable of looking after ourselves. Government is capable of deciding which things are good for the people.”
President Mwanawasa said he had been to China twice and had seen how advanced and clean that country was compared to other developed countries.
“I have been to the UK, USA, France, Italy and Japan. I can say without any contradiction, their development cannot be compared to these other countries except for Japan. They are not even as clean as China. I always wonder how we can achieve one tenth of what they have developed,” he said.
And President Mwanawasa called on former-miners who planned a demonstration against Chambishi Mines’ intention of building a smelter not to go ahead because they were just going to discourage people who wanted to bring investment in the country.
“I was reading a report about some ex-miners who want to demonstrate, saying they don’t want Chambishi to build a smelter and are requesting that government should give them the land so that they can cultivate maize and groundnuts,” he said.
He wondered how the ex-miners could be saying that growing maize and groundnuts was more important than something that was going to benefit the nation.
He said the ex-miners forgot that the smelter was going to add to the growth of the economy. “Amabala aya mataba ne mbalala balefwaya, (the fields for maize and groundnuts they want), we can give them more land Kumushi (in the village). There is plenty of land there for them to do farming,” President Mwanawasa advised.
On the construction of the ultra modern stadium in Ndola, President Mwanawasa disclosed that a team of Chinese experts would be in the country this month to see the site. He said the construction would provide employment for the people.
“They are not coming here to do politics. We’ll do politics ourselves for us to be happy and be able to facilitate development not how you are going to bring heaven on earth,” he said.
President Mwanawasa also said the Chinese were partnering with Zesco to develop hydro electricity plant in the lower Kafue Gorge. He urged Zambians to appreciate the Chinese investment because it came without any strings attached.
“Offers have been made in the past for us to accept money only if we do something in return. I said no; with the Chinese, I haven’t seen any string attached. If anything, can I be allowed to say what honourable Magande said ‘if those strings are made of nylon, I can’t see them’,” he said
Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima disclosed that the government had released money for capital projects in the province.
Copperbelt MMD chairman Terence Findlay said the Chinese investors had resuscitated the economy of the province because they were doing a lot of work in Chambishi.