In the spirit of open dialogue, the debate for Roan constituency of the Copperbelt province (in northern Zambia) was one of the more lively and engaging ones. This particular debate also illuminated how concerns and issues surrounding foreign investment are framed in public discourse and used in political platforms. Thus, I have included an excerpt of the debate below. To learn more about Luanshya and Roan constituencies, situated in influential mining centers, visit the Norwegian Center for Human Rights. Also, the list of Zambian parliamentary constituencies is accessible here.
Mr. Siwakwi (Forum for Democracy and Development)
Mr. Kanta (United Patriotic for National Development)
Mr. Mulubwa (Multiparty Movement Democracy – the ruling party)
Mr. Mwaba (Independent)
Mr. Kambwili (Patriotic Front)
Mr. Kambwili: The question was how do you create other employment apart from mining industry? The answer is simple. To create, for instance, we need to attract investors who can make cornflakes. We can talk to investor who make cornflakes in South Africa and ask them to set up factory in Luanshya so people can get jobs. We can ask people in South Africa to set up mango juice factories so that people can get jobs.
Mr. Mwaba: You have been running parliament for five years, where are the factories?
Mediator: He’s just asking.
Mr. Kambwili: I have been trying to bring investment by MMD.
Mediator: He’s trying to…
Mr. Kambwili: Don’t interrupt. Let me finish. We’ve been meeting the vice president.
Mediator: The gentlemen don’t agree with you.
Mr. Kanta: Yes, Mr. Kambwili was there. Let’s be frank. One, I’ve been saying get donor attachment. Two, declare __ constituency. When we do this, we will attract investment.
Mr. Siwakwi: It’s very unfortunate sometimes to discuss on programs when you can’t offer solutions. The role of the MP is to advocate, negotiate, use as a mouth piece and make sure the development in your area comes. When you talk about development, you ensure investors. I want to disagree with the former MP. He’s been there for five years, what does he have to show. See, you’re supposed to negotiate. If you’re there, the problem we have had, is that our former MP has been banging the table every time he wants something. You need to have negotiating skills to get government to help you.
Mr. Mulubwa: You know, some people are clever when they’re talking.
Mediator: Let’s stick to the issue. The issue is whether you can bring in investors to make cornflakes.
Mr Kanta: Okay, yes, I”m agreeing with my friend here. The fact is that he’s been there for five years. Being a leader, like I agree with my friend here, when we have a problem, for instance, in the mines, 15MCC, when they have a problem, as a leader, you have to _.
Mr. Kambwili: Attraction of investment is government policy. If you deal with government that doesn’t have the policy to attract investment, as MP you can’t do anything. The government must accept views from opposition.
Mediator: We need to move on. How will you improve lives of people in Roan and Luanshya. Sanitation and health.
Mr: Kanta: Now, what the Chinese have done is that they have given the people two hospitals to use and the other hospital is for the mines. Now we have a situation where one clinic is in section 9 and other clinic is in _. When you’ve got a patient, it becomes difficult to transport patient from section 1, for example [interrupted by Mediator].
Mediator: So how will you improve the situation?
Mr. Kanta: I will talk to investors so that they can allow patients to use section 5 clinic, or we speak to the government to build a clinic in the _ hospital so that people in section 4 can go; they’re traveling too much. So I’m going to fight for the clinic to be open 24 hours.
Mr. Siwakwi: Currently, we need to have a clinic that will run for 24 hours. We’ll reason with the govt so that it’s revised. Also we have section 5 clinic, which to me, I want to at least support my MP, he’s tried to make it a hospital but the authorities have not been able to help. That place has got sufficient space, even for us to mortuary, so that people can have access to resting place in peace. For now, that clinic is being used by some people who are not using it the way it’s supposed to be.
Mr. Mwaba: I will make sure that the clinic operates the way it’s supposed to operate. And I will ensure that all clinic operate 24 hours and we’ll get ambulances work 24 hours. And section 8 and section 9 will have maternity wings. Let me just say this, the wards will help, committees, people in the wards will have access to CDF, CEC, youth empowerment funds and women empowerment funds to help communities move out of poverty.
Mr. Kambwili: Sharice [mediator], health and sanitation is the responsibility of the central government. As I’ve already said, when you speak out of ignorance, this is what happens. We have less than 50 percent of nurses in Zambia and that’s why section 7, 8 and 9 don’t run for 24 hours. So what will the people do? How can we keep the clinics open? We need the government to train and look after nurses and pay them well so they don’t leave the country and work in other countries. But you just say I’ll open these clinics in the sections. What I’ve done in the health sector is I’ve brought three state of the art machines, beds, equipment, worth 4 billion kwachas, and you know what happened, Sharice [the mediator], the MMD has..[interrupted by Mediator]
Mediator: Okay, thank you so much, I’ll let the others speak.
Mr. Mulubwa: Look, as MP you have to manage the constituency. My brother is claiming that he’s bought all these machines. I’ve been to the hospital. The machines don’t even work. I’ve been to the church where he’s bought computers. They don’t work.
Mediator: Wow will you address the issue of health and sanitation.
Mr. Mulubwa: That’s what I’m saying. Even from local resources, how much has been given? If you add up the figures, it’s a lot of money.
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Mediator: Mr. Kanta, would you like to address issues?
Mr. Kanta: The most important thing is that one, our focus is to create and ensure that miners will create their own companies. They can work in their own communities. When water and sewage is sorted out, they will need repair. Local contractors, we’ll sort out that.
Mr. Simawki: You see, creating employment is the responsibility of all leaders. When you look at population, I want to emphasize it’s not only mining where you can create jobs. We need to overhaul as it has been alluded to, that jobs should be given to local so that they can also benefit. The second one is that we should be able to make sure that people of this constituency diversify. I mentioned agriculture. It’s where we can create jobs.
Mr. Mulumbwa: There’s one question , he says how many people have you employed. I’ll answer that question. ¾ of people who are working for me, I would say more than 600 people.
Mr. Mwaba: In _, I haven’t employed many. But I want to talk about the question about the Chinese, people are painting the Chinese badly. The Chinese are not bad in business. Let me talk about, in South Africa, the Chinese have been [interrupted by Mediator].
Mediator. Mr. Mwaba, let’s bring the issue home. Bring it home.
Mr. Mwaba: I am bringing it home. Who are we wrong to say, they cannot work in mines, they can’t look after our people. You know I’ve seen these shafts. That’s what they’re getting their incomes from. We need to sit down and support them [the Chinese]. Look at the equipment they’re bringing in. See the other companies – they don’t do anything, they don’t bring in the equipment, they don’t help our people.
Mr. Kambwili: Nobody is saying we should chase the Chinese. All we’re saying is that the miners you’re employing, pay them well. What we’re saying is some Chinese investment, pay our miners well. If they’re not prepared to pay the miners well, let them get out of Luanshya.
Mr. Mwaba: You know what Mr. Kambwili is saying, he’s been barred from entering the place there. We need to sit down with investors and discuss. The conditions for the miners.
Mr. Kanta: You know, these mines, I’ve got a vast experience in mines. Once upon a time, all the mines in Luanshya were closed. This time, the only one producing copper is P__. Come two three mines from now, the miner will employ 2 or 3000 people. Let me explain something coming back to the Chinese, that when we are building, they’re building the mines. Once effected, it’s a done deal. People will be paid a lot of money. As a leader, I’ve seen this, where the leader is pushing them to go on strike. And I’m saying [interrupted by Mediator]
Mediator: We’re winding down. Please 30 seconds why we should vote for you.
Mr. Kambwili: I’m the best candidate. Chambishi [mines] was open ten years ago. They’re still paying poor salaries. See for yourself. Choose the best leader who will represent you effectively, articulately your issues and seek results. Trust your leadership, and believe in me.
Mr. Mwaba: We’ve seen what people have done to this constituency. They’ve run it down because they don’t trust investors. We will work with investors. You have to work with whatever is there. If you don’t work with investor, how will you work with your people?
Mr. Mulubwa: People should vote for the MMD, RB [Rupiah Banda] is true leader. We don’t want leader who insults every time he is on platform. Every time he [interrupted by Mr. Kambwili].
Mr. Kambwili: Please let me finish.
[Mediator also interrupts and tries to mediate among arguing candidates]
Mr. Mulubwa: So let people vote wisely, a leader who does well.
Mr. Kanta: I’m saying, you know we have achieved a lot together. We will work together to drive ourselves out of poverty, please vote for this man because you know him, you know that he’s an achiever, a team worker and also a team manager.
Mr. Siwakwi: I want people of this constituency to vote for me, just me. Give it to the right person because I’ve been with you, I understand your problems, and I’m here representing you, so make sure on that day, 20th September vote for me because I’m able to argue, advocate and negotiate for you.
Mediator: Thank you for coming to the program.