File:A dormitory in a boarding school in rural Zambia

By Charles Mwewa(Author:Zambia – Struggles of My People)

Rafeeah Mulla, a Grade Nine pupil at International School of Lusaka,in a Zambia Daily Mail newspaper clip of Saturday, November 5th, 2011 titled, “Zambia, 50 Years from Now,” laments:

Zambia`s current population is thirteen million. I estimate that fifty years from now it may double to twenty-six million; putting enormous strain on our meagre resources, such as food, clothing, hospitals,
infrastructure and so on. To keep up with our increasing population,Zambia needs to have a much larger economic growth rate than it has had in the last fifty years, especially if it wants to enjoy a better
living standard in 2061 which I know we can achieve, if we are really determined.

The astute student goes on and prescribes the parameters necessary to enable Zambia emerge as a strong nation in terms of its economy and democracy: “For us to advance, we need a safe and peaceful country.” Mulla then praises the efforts the country has made in developing democratic institutions and cultural edifices which collectively will and has continued to define Zambia as a free and accommodating nation.

On September 25th, 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon hailed Zambia for setting “an example for the rest of Africa and the wider world about how power can be transferred peacefully.” In fact,Zambia has been transferring power smoothly and peacefully since its creation in 1964. The UN Chief was on record for having chided other African nations to emulate Zambia in allowing democracy to flourish. 

despite Zambia being placed as one of the favourable recipients of donor aid in poverty reduction programmes,there was nothing tangible to show for it in terms of bettering the lives of the majority poor

However, as it is often mused, democracy has been a feature of the African social mosaic even in pre-colonial days. The yardstick for measuring democracy in Africa has always been the Westernised concept
of freedom and democratization, which have often been the holding of “free and fair” elections and the nudge for freedoms and other fundamental human rights to be deeply entrenched into the political fabric of the nation. That, truly, is commendable and even attractive at best. But what has been overlooked is the fact that democracy or good governance has not been African predominant problem.

Social and economic indicators in so-called war-torn African states and the peaceful nations are not any different. It will be imprudent to farce that Nigeria, for example which has had a good share of coups
since its independence, lags Zambia in terms of economic development.The 54 states of Africa all have had one aspect of political or military struggle or the other. They all are, to a larger extent,products of a colonial past, a past imbued with tribal disruptions and political insipidity. That said, it cannot be construed as a blame-balm for Africa`s future problems.

The past, notwithstanding, Africa`s biggest problem is poverty, and this has nothing to do with what happened in the colonial or post-colonial eras. Those eras, of course, contributed, but cannot be used as an ante for harangue. In fact, unfortunate events like colonialism should now equip Africa to deal with future problems effectively. Credit must be given to African leaders for trying to run their governments under very difficult circumstances, but more can and must be done. There can never be any excuse for poverty – it dehumanises the soul and pulverises a people`s best intentions.

The current government in Zambia, in the run-up to the September 20th,2011 elections recognised poverty as “Zambia`s biggest problem.” Dr. Guy Scott, now Vice-president of the Republic of Zambia, is on
record as having said that, “ordinary Zambians had been left out of the current growth in the country.” In Zambia, despite the enormous economic spurts boosted by increased copper production, the conditions
of the common person have not changed.

Poverty is inimical to a people`s future well-being; it is a
nation`s enemy number one, and as such it must be combatted and defeated at all costs. Corruption, abuse of resources and neglect of industries which have been cited as causes of poverty in Zambia, are,in fact, the symptoms of poverty, and not the causes of it

This is a norm, so it seems,regardless of which government is in power. Of course, there are those who think, erroneously, that under Kenneth Kaunda Zambia performed very well in economic terms. But this is only a case of short-sightedness, as Kaunda himself was defeated in the elections in 1991 because the people, and the International Financial Institutions,then, observed that the only remedy to the precarious Zambian economic facia was the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). SAPs had become anathema, a case of throwing the baby with the water.

In the wake of the Euro Crisis in 2011-2012, such theorising has been taken by events. SAPs regime is no longer seen as a panacea to Africa`s, and indeed Europe`s, decaying economic conditions. The two late Zambian presidents, Frederick Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa, introduced economic liberalism in Zambia. Under this economic framework, the socialistic regime of Kaunda was replaced by one of free-market competition. Those who depended on hand-outs became the real victims of the new economic structure. Kaunda was no longer there to dish out cooking oil, mealie meal and so on.

Under the Rupiah Banda`s regime, people still recognised poverty as the biggest problem. Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) challenged former president Banda to make poverty a priority in the Post of Thursday, March 31st, 2011. And Marylyn Celli, a governance advocate, was bemused that despite Zambia being placed as one of the favourable recipients of donor aid in poverty reduction programmes,there was nothing tangible to show for it in terms of bettering the lives of the majority poor.

Indeed, each year, Zambia and many other African countries, receive aid from donor governments and the
co-operating partners. But poverty, for which majority of these funds is acquired, never seem to rescind; the people are not better than before aid was acquired.

The University of Zambia (UNZA) student body have been challenging governments to explain their plans for ending poverty in Zambia. Kelvin Chitala, one of the UNZA Student Union leaders once said that, “Zambians were in need of a government that would champion poverty eradication countrywide.” This,unfortunately, has been a song for many years since Zambia attained to its political independence.

Zambia has a problem of poverty. According to Marcos Rodrigues, Cuban Foreign Deputy Minister, “Africa has enough talent to solve the continent`s problems.” And what President Michael Sata calls the “fruits of independence” can only be prosperity, which has eluded the Zambian people for over 40 years. Indeed, like former Bank of Zambia Governor, Dr. Caleb Fundanga, said, “Disparities between the rich and the poor will exist,” however, this should not deter the Zambian governments from fighting this scourge.

Of course, corruption is a sister problem to poverty, but poverty supersedes corruption. In many cases, it is poverty which breeds corruption. Curbing poverty is the first step towards eradicating corruption.

African institutions have not been strengthened enough to attain to a system of imbedded checks and balances, like the West have. And the war that must be fought and won should be poverty, even before fighting other national scourges. Poverty is inimical to a people`s future well-being; it is a
nation`s enemy number one, and as such it must be combatted and defeated at all costs. Corruption, abuse of resources and neglect of industries which have been cited as causes of poverty in Zambia, are,in fact, the symptoms of poverty, and not the causes of it.

The cancer that is eating up Zambia is poverty. It must be fought with all the might that government possesses. President Michael Sata and his government must ensure that their fight is the fight against
poverty. The dignity of the people of Zambia depends on it. The future of Zambia relies on it. And the sanity of a people is in pursuance to it. Poverty is Zambia`s enemy number one, and it must be conquered at
all cost!

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39 COMMENTS

  1. If we have certain people ‘marked from birth’ to never rule, even when they are more capable, we will still continue to be a Zambian laughing stock when it cames to poverty..period. (those with heads will understand me…but those with……… will not)

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  2. Bemba Man #1 yes HH will never rule Zambia…..
    Zambia has been saved now. All this poverty,unemployment,illiteracy etc will soon be no more in Zambia.

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    • @Mwanamfumu. The sooner you accept reality the better for you and your children. otherwise, wake me up in 2050 and Zambia will still be the poorest in the region despite its good natural resources. (if we dont change over our leaders)
      Otherwise enjoy your diaspora while your people are in poverty in Zambia. Also have it in mind that not matter how much you succeed in the diaspora, you will still be judged as one from a poverty stricken country. 

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    • Hutus who comprise 75% of the Rwandan population thought a Tutsi would never rule Rwanda. Ask them who is now in charge

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  3. To the contrary, I think poverty is not the challenge in Zambia. Rather, medirocre leadership is the source of poverty. With a small population of 13 million cited, given the resource base, i guess the country with good leadership could actually alleviate poverty. I am actually consoled by the projection of 26 million people by 2050. This is rather small and would have no strain whatsoever if only we got selfless leaders, whose vision is develop the country and not focus of political grips through fighting each other and causing unnecessary tension in the country, The statements I read from the politicians, both from govt and opposition just shows how parochial minded and mediocre our leadership in general is.

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  4. We have to seriously examine our culture in general. I believe our culture drives poverty and many persisting problems. Alangizi ideals being one of them. we can’t have it both ways. We have two choices hung on to ancient (gender insensitive) ideologies and stop complaining rhetorically or adopt civilized developmental paradigms.

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  5. Good read.Yes improving the livelihood of our people should be top priority.People like HH should be the ones ruling Zambia.Unfortunately we seem attracted to people with ‘poverty’ mentalities and history shows thats done us no good.

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  6. On the contrary,the cause of Zambia’s poverty are 1)Poor governance STRUCTURES and 2) this barbaric CONSTITUTION. A country’s progress is measured by the impact &establishment of it’s collective geniuses, creativity,innovation and the total freedom to reason,challenge thought, reward progressive thinkers across all governance strata.Yet such Ideals&Qualities are stifled by the above 2 enemies of the Zambian people. No country knows only one genius-yet Zambia only looks to one genius in the presidency/executive whose wisdom can never be defied.What a backward systems & structure! Until intuitive& creative minds find honour and true freedom on the Zambian soil&governance structures, weeding out poverty would forever be a song in the wilderness.Zambians of reason can transform Zed.

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  7. You all Zambians are just dull but good for talking talking. You have copper and other resources which you give freely to  foreigners not even reasonable tax is paid. When somebody says wants to correct the trend you start saying investers will leave Zambia. Why cant you be Investers as well. really very dull useless people in Zambia.

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  8. Where is football, Zambia vs Uganda: Thats the only thing we need. Not reminding us of sadness. Give us football link please.

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  9. Ha, What happened to Luanshya miners will hapen to all Zambians if one politician with a high affirnity to get rich gets in to plot one. He has been lamenting the absence of his name among the rich Africans. Beware and don’t say you were not told.

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  10. The most well written article i’ve ever seen on LT though i emphatically disagree with the point that corruption and abuse of resources are symptoms rather than fundamental causes of poverty.

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  11. This is a good article and I do not want to take anything away from it. Just to add that poverty has several causes one of which is colonialism although the writer discounts it. the structures left by colonial govts are extractive in nature and the current global governance system seeks to perpetuate that. Look at how USA wants China to remain where they are. My humble belief  is that poverty is transferable except where we use God’s principles. Capitalism means gaining at the expense of others. To prosper we need to add value to our raw materials, but doing that means no manufacturing jobs in developed countries especially those without raw materials and the trading system makes sure u can only export raw materials or things that they are not making

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    • Hey man, wake up and stop blaming colonialism. How many years have we been independent. If we were a serious nation, we would have recovered by now. I agree with your second point of adding value to the raw materials.

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  12. Replace the word “POVERTY” with “EDUCATION & TRAINING”. When we educate and train our people the poverty will automatically be reduced drastically or go away completely.
    The South Koreans did it, The Indians didt it, The Chinese dit it. They are all benefiting from that “human investment”. African leaders are promising their people to get out of poverty without investing in education. There is no such thing as a “free lunch”.

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  13. Take it from me foriegn investment will never develop Zambia. Zambia can only be developed by zambians and nobody else. Unless we are too stupid, we will never learn. It’s now since 1991 no development from this so called forign investment. Zambia will deleop if zambians start running all sectors agric, mining and toursm. And not an invester coming to breed chickens and sell them to the domestic market. That is bullshit. Let’s us face it these guys are upto nothing but finish the resources. Look at the developed countries themselves, who has developed these countries? It is the local patriotic people who have done that. Never will it happen that a muzungu or china man will be patrotic to Zambia. Let us support ourselves and emerge with dignity. Let us deleop zambia as zambian.peace

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  14. Zambian and Africans in general are dull. Yes we are intellegent when it comes to academic but useless when it comes to hands on. Can you belive that a country like Zambia which has the best copper in the world would this poor? Which has the fresh water bodies,it’s people would lack water 24/7, which has the fertile soils would not grow a health crop. Look at gabage on the streets yet we speak good English. This really hurts. Shame on the learned zambians who have failed to perform.

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  15. To “throw the baby with the bathwater”. Yes, we know that poverty is that bad. In your next article boss, try to highlight steps that can be taken to diversify and grow this economy. In 50 years it can only a turn for the better, since we are at the other end now.

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  16. #14 Woman in Red

    I don’t think the main reason for Zambia’s and Africa’s underdevelopment is because our people are dull or have failed to perform.

    It has a lot to do with the exploitative and opppressive system designed and practised by the western countries. If everything was fair, from international trade to global politics, you would’nt have African countries struggling so hard to meet development standards dictated to them by the very countries that opress them behind the doors!

    I think the best that Africans can do is to merge and share their resources among themselves. That way, we will set our own standards of development which we can easily achieve without external interference. Real independence is to be able to say “NO!” to the west and to rule our destiny!

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    • Spot on Big fella. You have never disappointed me in your comments. I really don’t know why people like you are not in the corridors of power. I wish every Zambia  thinks and looks at things from your point of view. I pray that one day God opens the doors for you to leadership 

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  17. I am always asking a question, why is it in Botswana the diamond mining is govt owned, though its economy is capitalist. If we in Zambia tried to run the mines, we will be told that the Govt has no business in business, you will see all sorts of so called intellectuals condemning this move as un workable. Its true a foreigner can never develop our country, no matter how they sweet talk us, it remain a pipe dream. We all know that if you control production you control the wealth period! Ukubwata bwata pa Zed, no productive work! When is CEEC resuming disbursement of funds?

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  18. I wanted to ignore commenting but of No# 13-16 comments; Zambians cannot develop zambian alone bcoz that will be wishful thinking. Fo a country like us to develop we need to partner with our colleagues of different nationalities/races and learn from each other. Reasons why Zambians cannot develop this country alone offcourse they may be exceptions but they account for 20%;
    1. Poor attitudes, mentality, culture and thinking is the same; including even the learned and so called intellectuals.
    2. Bad working culture and want quick money before working.
    3. Poor credit worthness because we dont want to pay loans borrowed….whats happening to CEEC. The idea is very good but zambian want free things.
    4. We chased whites earlier than any southern african country…..how far is our development

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  19. continued/…
    5. Poor and mediocre leadership which corrupt and power hungry, visionless like pf cnp govt.
    6. We dont want to partner to pool resources like south africans and zimbos…bukaitemwe leading only to small tembas. Selfishness is our way of life.
    7. Poor education and training in business and financial basics.
    8. Poor curriculum systems which design for white collar jobs not entrepreneur.
    9. We need to accept our limitations as country and a people that we have no resources to invest in mines and railways etc. (like it happened in 80s and 90s). We need a win win partnership with colleagues of different nationalities.
    10. A badly framed constitution that make one person powerful.

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  20. Nine Chale i emphatically disagree with you.Yes,we’re dull and fail to perform.The system you are against is the same one Chile & Botswana operate under yet their mineral economies are better than zed.Its the same system Kenya/Ethiopia have used to grow successful airlines yet zed fails.A look at our streets tells the same tale.We’re too lazy/indisciplined to even clean our streets and most zedians live in filthy compounds.Do we blame the west for that too?Why do Asian-zambians live better lives in zed yet they operate under the same opressive system? The painful fact is we’re too dull/non performing to even clean the filth we live in and too quick to blame anybody but ourselves.The west owes us nothing and we need to carry our own cross.

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  21. Nine chale. It’s not about the west no no no. It’s zambians lazy people who throw gabage and accuse the west

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  22. Very true! No foreigner will care to develop Zambia if their sole goal is to invest and get a huge profit once operations start. The only way Zambia will develop is for Government to implement serious foreign investment laws that will benefit Zambians as well as investors.

    The other point I wanted to bring up is what someone had mentioned about not blaming the colonial rulers for what has been going on today. I tell you, if you do not learn from your past forget about getting better tomorrow. Understand that the misdeeds from the colonial era has greatly impacted today’s Zambian culture and economy. The only way out for Zambians is to invest heavily in education for the children as well as adults. For that to happen our Government needs to help Zambian children for a better tomorrow.

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  23. Zambia will develop when people learn to trash small pride attitude and work hard. Majority of rich in Zambia are not so educated becoz educated we are too proud to do hard work. And never wanting to take risks; all people learnt at school was lining advantages and disadvantages and stand aloof in fear. No practicality. My advise let us work hard and support government as educated; we are big let down. Even we study medicine know mango leave/ lemon are for cough we damn dont want to process them yet you blame Mr Sata. Guys we share the blame. Our duty is to show our children it can be done.

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  24. For the first time since 1989 Zambia’s economic growth reached the 6%-7% mark(in 2007) needed to reduce poverty significantly. Copper output has increased steadily since 2004, due to higher copper prices and the opening of new mines. The maize harvest was again good in 2005, helping boost GDP and agricultural exports. Cooperation continues with international bodies on programs to reduce poverty, including a new lending arrangement with the IMF in the second quarter of 2004. A tighter monetary policy will help cut inflation, but Zambia still has a serious problem with high public debt.

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  25. Bad leadership is the problem in Zambia. Bad leadership breeds poverty despite hardworking and peace.

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  26. Hi my loved one! I want to say that this post is awesome, great written and include almost all important infos. I would like to peer extra posts like this .

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