HARARE – For more than 20 years after independence, Zimbabwe gave Zambia with a shovel and now we are now receiving a spoonful of assistance.
In the past three decades, Zambia and Zimbabwe have rarely enjoyed economic prosperity at the same time and hence many expected that, in the spirit of neighbourliness, the two would stand by each other during times of need.
The major commodity traded by these two former British colonies since black majority rule is maize but the attitude of Zambia’s post Kenneth Kaunda presidency towards Zimbabwe has never been to share our afflictions.
From 1980, millions of tones of maize were exported to Zambia up to about 2003.
In fact, Zimbabwe over exported and ran down her Strategic Grain Reserve in early 2000s in an attempt to assist to arrest the biting food shortages prevalent in Zambia at the time.
Zimbabwe has been battling to attain above national requirement maize harvest since 2002 leaving the country with no choice but to import maize from Zambia, which was, ironically at that time, enjoying bumper harvest.
Zambia has been demanding upfront cash payment and when these payments are made and yet they still react very painfully slow in preparing the maize stocks for dispatch.
It must be noted that at all material times, Zambia bought maize from Zimbabwe, it was on various terms other than cash.
In fact, as late as May 2013, Zambia still owed Zimbabwe for the maize sold in 2002.
And now the Sata administration is demanding cash upfront?
We must know whether the maize is strictly on cash basis or open account terms, which Zimbabwe used to extend to them.
It is practically impossible to litigate against Zambia Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Historically, Zambia has never been receptive to Zimbabwe exports opting to favour South African products.
In 2001, ZimTrade, the country’s export promotion body, opened a permanent office in Lusaka and also a trading warehouse that sought to ensure that Zimbabwean products were always available in Zambia.
This was done to countenance the emerging of South Africa hegemony which saw several shopping malls built by Old Mutual South Africa to house retail chain stores such as Shoprite, Game and many others.
The Zimbabwe Trading House, which was operated jointly with a Zambian company, Sulmach Limited, closed prematurely when Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa slapped a ban on a number of Zimbabwean products.
The media reported that “An ambitious bonded warehouse project established in Zambia about two years ago has collapsed on the back of a ban imposed on Zimbabwean products by President Levy Mwanawasa’s government.
“The ban, which was reserved on certain products, had the effect of cutting off supplies into the warehouse, Zambia Trading House (ZTH), established by ZimTrade to improve dwindling foreign exchange receipts.”
When Hillary Clinton, former US Secretary of State, met Michael Sata on June 11, 2011, Zimbabwe was not topical in their discussion.
The Siamese twin did not make efforts to lobby for the removal of economic sanctions illegally imposed on the other twin who gives passage of goods from the sea to the other twin.
Zimbabwe is learning the hard way that it is important to retain former maize output status that saw us exporting in excess.
It is difficult to count on Zambia as our ally because she is seemingly just a neighbour who happened to be there by virtue of geography.
Many Zimbabweans have tried to open and run businesses in Zambia but found the environment harsh.
Let us till the land seriously this season and grow our own food because we are on our own.