Zambian marketeers have no future under capitalism – Dr Musumali
By staff Reporter
The Influx of foreign Shopping malls in Zambia is a disaster in the waiting that will see the death of local Small and Medium Enterprises with the full blessing of the government.
Commenting on the plight of the marketeers who last week raised concerns about diminishing business opportunities due to shopping malls near their traditional trading areas, Socialist Party General Secretary Dr Cosmas Musumali said it was hard for the local small traders to compete with capitalist multinationals.
He predicted that over the next 10 to 15 years the huge emerging super markets will make inroads into the compounds and “swallow” the small scale existing businesses belonging to the masses.
“The coming of these malls will remove the proximity and transport challenges that have hitherto posed a challenge for the poor slum dwellers in accessing modern supermarkets. A careful assortment of cheap goods made in China and South Africa plus a few shelves stocked with traditional Zambian vegetables and other foodstuffs will spell doom to all would-be-traders in the local markets” he explained.
Florence Simacha, 54 a vegetable trader in Chelston market, like most of her colleagues affected by the ‘new’ competitors lamented, “during the Kaunda era, when there was Zambia Airways here in Chelston, we used to sale a lot and make good profit. Even if it was two kwachas then, it was enough to educate our children. But things are now worse under the PF government. Our children don’t eat the whole day and sit waiting for us whilst we are scrounging here in the market. We are barely managing to take our children to school at the moment”.
Her colleague, 55 year old Miniva Banda, who is a chicken trader in the same market has lamented that she spends three hundred and ten kwacha (K310) in monthly bills despite spending some days without selling even one chicken per day.
She explains that a chicken sells at K45 but pays K100 for her stand, K150 for the chicken storage and K60 to the council every month despite having unprecedented low sales.
Dr Musumali, explains that the spread of these markets may appear as a convinient positive growth for the middle class but unfortunately government has not placed deliberate policies that will achieve a “win-win” status quo between the local businesses and the chain stores by equally catering for the middle class clientele through the provision of a comfortable shopping environment.
“An informed observation of Burkina Faso, Uganda, Rwanda and other countries point to an attempt by the respective governments to modernise the local markets, make them attractive and competitive against modern supermarkets. The outcome is upgraded local markets that are in design, function and levels of comfort a semblance of the modern malls. This initiative gives local marketeers a decade or two to hold on. They regain some competitive edge for sometime” he said.
Dr Musumali said there was something specific about the crude brand of Zambian capitalism which had produced the most contemptuous and uncaring petty bourgeois leadership.
“Many other poor countries under the yoke of neoliberal capitalism at least try to moderate the pain and misery of local traders. But the Zambian leaders don’t seem to care,” he said.
Dr Musumali said it remained a sad reality that poor Zambian traders in markets run by district councils and cooperative societies were systematically being driven out of business by foreign shopping malls where chain stores such as Shoprite, Spar, or Choppies supermarket were set up.