Zambian Economist celebrates its 7th year anniversary today! On 1 February 2007 I begun to write! Thank you everyone for your continued support! It is fair to say if it was not for your support I would have stopped writing in the first month. Many have started and fallen off the way side! So, thank you again for keeping this going! I would particularly thank you those who have stayed with this from its early days - if you have please let me know, it would be great to hear from you. Thanks! Here is the first blog post I wrote on that very day of 1 February 2007 [the country was under President Mwanawasa].
After reading about the latest economic deal Zambia has signed with China, it’s clear that this partnership is here to stay. I cannot see how any future Zambia leader no matter how opposed he/she may be to China’s practices will be able to reverse the current arrangements that are being put in place between the current Government and China.
Simply put, we've already entered a situation where China has now raised the cost of Zambia reneging on her in the future. $800m in planned investment is a lot of money, not to mention the money already China has pumped into the economy.
Zambia is ever increasingly becoming reliant on China. And to make it worse or better (depending on which side of the political spectrum you belong to), the current Government will keep pressing on for a deeper relationship with China. So we are indeed a poor peasant girl stuck with a rich lover with many wives, because China indeed has many wives and many children too! The growth between China and Africa has continued to rise - and not all the money is coming to the peasant girl, and indeed questions remain on whether China's current growth is sustainable.
Zambians must recognise this fact and seek to address the next question – where to next? We cannot end the relationship, because with every gift we receive, we dig ourselves deeper into the hole. With that in mind, it becomes pointless for us to sit down and waste time analysing whether Mr Hu really loves us or whether he really cares about the peasant worker in a Chambishi area without medical insurance working in one of the Chinese firms.
At the core China is a rational economic agent seeking to maximise its own gains from this unequal of relationships. What should really concern us now is simple: How can the peasant girl Zambia get along better with the rich lover that is China? She has done well so far using her limited resources of copper to keep this rich lover, but how far before the lover becomes abuseful, and starts exerting more control?
Unfortunately, this is the difficult question our Government has now created, but has not yet been answered. Surely, Government owes it the people to do so, and to demonstrate that there's indeed in all her economic policies towards China, a Plan B. For now we live in fear of the day the lover becomes abuseful.
(Zambian Economist, 1 February 2007)
Chola Mukanga | Economist
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