“You have to contend with the theft,cheating, laziness”
By Dr Lubinda Haabazoka
The difficulty of doing business in Zambia has been well documented. Some say it’s taxes and some say it’s corruption. But there is a lot more that draws Zambian businesses back and its high time we admitted it as a people so that we can change this mind set.
Ala we can steal! Yesterday I went to buy stuff from a hardware. When I reached the shop, the workers told me that if I waited outside, they would bring me the items I needed for half the price!!! I refused. Doing so would be loses to a business. How many businesses lose money in that way???
I gave a lift to some workers, when we arrived at site, the K10 I had laying on the car sit for weeks was gone. Cry my beloved country!!!
The plumber came to me and said the rubbers for some item were missing. Everyone refused to acknowledge who took them. They all put the blame on the hardware. This is despite the fact that we checked everything together with the plumber!
Now imagine what is happening in big companies???? Imagine what is happening in parastatals where all citizens feel entitled. At Zamefa in Luanshya, I used to object when I saw workers receiving a full body search!!! Now I know why???
In Zambia you can’t do remote farming, build remotely or trust any property with anyone!!! There are a lot of stories of poor workmanship or when even trusted workers abandoning jobs half way but busy calling for full payments to be sent!!! There are a lot of stories when even relatives misuse money sent by their diaspora relatives to build houses, develop farms or any other businesses. Then we now ask, why don’t Zambians invest back at home!?? Because there is simply no one to trust. Unless money is sent to a Chinese or Indian company in Zambia, no one will do the work especially when they know that the owner is not there!!!
This is almost impossible. Since most Zambians, use their salaries as capital, the best model is to farm remotely in the beginning. How many farms have been abandoned because chickens apparently regularly die of snake bites, caught by other flying birds or eaten by chi mumbwe??? How many Zambians have abandoned farming because during the week no irrigation is done, goats stolen, fertiliser not applied or cattle mysteriously dying??? How can we build trust? How can we build wealth if we can’t be entrusted with other people’s property??
Building a house in Zambia is a BP inducing experience. Cement is stolen with impunity. House owners are forced to go to the plot to witness the mixing of cement. With blocks and timber, chances are that if you are not on site yourself, you will contribute to the construction of the whole neighbourhood!!! What puzzles everyone is how people accept to buy stolen material simply because it’s cheap!? When you pay builders an advance, you will never see them again!!! In most cases, property owners chase after builders especially if an advance was involved. To avoid this, we are now using Zimbabweans and Chinese! So let’s change ourselves as workers!!! You call an employee, the first thing they demand is transport money. How will you give a job to a person desperate for transport money??? The first question on site is food. We spend 4 hours cooking and three hours working. That’s also prominent in formal work places. People boiling beans at work. Then what time do you work??
POOR CREDIT CULTURE.
They say if you want to lose friendship in Zambia, just lend money to another person. Zambians simply can’t pay back loans!! Whilst reading this, just think of someone who borrowed from you and has never paid back??? Just think of someone you got money from and you never paid back in full or at all!? No wonder banks have to cut at source because very few can voluntarily take the check in a monthly basis to the bank. Because of this, banks can’t lend to us if we don’t have a job (source) to cut from.
We simply have no care for other people’s property. Try to give a friend your car to drive. Try to give your friend your laptop to use. You will be lucky if it comes back without problems. Now imagine if it’s a company property or especially government vehicle. No total regard for such property!! Look at how we vandalise public property. How can we we move like this???
We have overburdened our authorities with responsibilities. I drive around townships. Look at our outside premises! We can’t even cut the grass or water it to a certain stand. The beauty of a city is neatly cut green grass, freshly painted buildings among other things! All Wall fences should be plastered and painted!! Painted regularly after each rain season!! We are used to having grass cut for us during Kaunda’s regime!!! Now it’s our responsibility!!!
If we have to give jobs and contracts to ourselves, we have to also improve on service delivery. No one will just give you a job because you carry a Zambian NRC. It’s a hustle to deal with a Zambian company in most cases. You order blocks, you will be chasing for them for months!!!
Otherwise not it’s not all companies though. Some are very professional!!!
Let’s continue changing for the better!!