By Lloyd Himaambo
Only the politically blind can not see the trail of destruction by the MMD government from Katima mulilo to Mwami border upto Kasumbalesa.
But there is one monumental destruction that the MMD should be remembered for. It is the once industrial town of Kafue.
Kafue town, just 43 kilometers south of the capital ‘city’ Lusaka lies in ruins. All the industries have collapsed and poverty is souring Yet, this is the town with a unique history. It is a town that did not evolve like many towns but was carefully planned.
When Kenneth Kaunda and his colleagues kicked out the colonialists, they knew exactly what they needed to do: develop Zambia for all citizens.
Before 1964, the place where Kafue town lies today was a bush.
Lusaka town was growing very fast and the population was booming due to people migrating to Lusaka to look for employment. What with the newly gained political independence. It was the in-thing to move to the city and find salaried employment.
The government had to respond to this problem. not everybody could be in Lusaka and people could not be turned away.
Houses for these people had to be build and employment opportunities had to be created.
So, in 1966, a site was chosen for the development of the big industries of the country. The industries were to be near the large modern town where workers could live. Kafue was chosen due to its good communication like line of rail, and kafue river where water for industries could easily be tapped.
In 1967 development began. Government, through the Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO) formed a small company called Kafue Estates limited. Experts from Yugoslavia, Italy, Israel and japan were called in to help.
The town was to have Community halls , thousands of houses, modern toilets and fast food places to be were billed to be constructed.
Various industries were created from the scratch with the largest being NCZ making fertilizer and chemicals.
Kafue textiles was another huge company that was created and building the infrsastructure cost K8 million. Yes, Eight million Zambian Kwacha.
Kafue textile was producing 12 million metres of cotton each year. Between 1972 and 76 during the second National Development plan, the company was making 25 million metres per year, enough material to dress southern Africa.
The plan was to continue with a company that was making boats of all kinds for the fishing industry. Steel and yeast industries were all part of the development plan of Kafue.
Kafue was a indeed a model town in terms of African development.
But unfortunately in 1991, there was a national tragedy.
A cocktail of strange leaders took control of government and everything had to change.
The first thing they did was to replace national production with bombastic words.
The entire nation felt this change immediately. But Kafue was among the most hit areas.
Most people in the town have taken to Peasant agriculture and canoe fishing.
Like some commentator said, In the 1960’s Kafue was a thriving industrial town with a large nitrogen factory, a train station and a bustling textiles industry; as time passed the nitrogen factory started to lose money and imported second-hand clothing put the textiles industry out of business.
Kafue slowly but surely went backwards: facilities, such as the community hall, fell into disrepair; tennis and basketball courts were covered by the overgrowth; paved roads disintegrated; and the public swimming pool became unusable. Kafue once had the amenities of a town in the British Isles but now most are completely gone or in such bad repair that they are hardly utilised. With the fall of industry and the resulting reduction of facilities in Kafue, unemployment, crime and HIV prevalence have all increased.
Instead of the development that was so carefully planned, Kafue is now home to rogue industries. Petty thieves calling themselves investors have since invaded Kafue.
It will take a complete change in national direction to put Kafue back on course.