By Ben Kayuma
Capacity has become a buzz word in many a discussion in Zambia today. It pops up often times and is used in spheres of thought and expression, and really by everyone from the Head of State down to the street guy.
We’ve heard many times that Zambia does not have the capacity to run large scale mining activities. We hear that for that to happen, the country needs mining brains, sophisticated systems and huge financial resources. All this and other factors, add up to what is referred to as capacity.
On financial related crimes, we hear that Zambians have no capacity to investigate high level white collar crimes hence the reason why most cases fail on convicting suspects in the courts of law. It is believed that officers in investigative and prosecuting agencie lack “the brain power” to nail suspects such as corrupt politicians and public officials. Sometimes we are told that we lack the technology to aid the investigation process. At the end of the day, it boils down to lack of capacity, or so we are told.
Many lives have been lost in Zambia due to failures in treatment or lack of sophisticated medical equipment to carry out complex operations. For the privileged few who can afford treatment abroad, they often travel for their medical attention. Here again, Zambia lacks highly specialised medical personnel and other resources hence leading to lack of capacity in the medical sector, as the story goes.
The story of lack of capacity for Zambia has been there from independence to date. The reason why the first republic built the University of Zambia, which opened in 1966, was for the simple reason of building capacity in citizens to foster national development. The idea was that if capacity can be built, then citizens will eventually have full control of all the major economic and social sectors. Research shows that no country can develop without its citizens taking full control of the most prized sectors albeit traditional or new.
Capacity is a hybrid of a number of factors which, in my view, include human resources, finance, technology, organised economy, natural factors, entrepreneurship and ingenuity. In a nut shell, capacity is a combination of these elements albeit in varying degrees.
Look out for the Part 2 and 3 of this article where we break matters further to try and understand why Zambia is, apparently, suffering from capacity constraints. We go further to examine whether, really, this country lacks capacity or is it just an illusion. Finally, we will also highlight the real capacity deficiencies which may be the ‘real’ capacity deficiencies.
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