Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Reasons for perpetuated poverty in Zambia


Here are a few reasons why we continue having poverty in Zambia. The list is not exhaustive and each item could be a dissertation on its own. Getting rid of poverty in a developing country like Zambia is critical and deserves our utmost attention. Feel free to add your own reasons.

Politicians/Leaders: The quality of leaders we continue to elect leaves much to be desired. Even in the business world, executives in Zambia continue to hire and promote their own in the organizations. This sidelines the most talented and leaves the mediocre to be the main decision-makers. The moment Zambia gives up the selfish ways it elects or appoints leaders we shall begin to see the difference in the way things are going to move in this country. We need quality leadership with exceptional skills and education.

Corruption and Abuse of Resources: There is no doubt that corruption in Zambia is a stumbling block to meaningful development in the country. As long as we continue to have government officers ask for a bribe to do business with the government we shall continue heading backwards. Many institutions in this country including, the police and the judiciary need to be freed of corrupt tendencies in order to create a favorable environment for development and get rid of poverty.

The few people who run the resources in Zambia end up abusing the resources whether it is authority, moneys, or vehicles. These resources that are supposed to be channeled to develop infrastructure or educate people end up being used by those entrusted to bring the development.

Bad Policies: When policies are made only in the best interest of the ruling elite or the mega foreign investors, the majority of Zambian citizens will continue living in poverty. The Zambian government has failed to create proactive policies that seek to address issues of poverty in this country. The closure of several companies in Zambia is a testimony of this failure. Hundreds of employees have been left jobless overnight without benefits whatsoever.
The government needs to advocate for the tax-paying citizens. Policies such as mandatory setting up of employee trust funds for new companies need to be introduced. The legislature needs to work up and start addressing real issues of poverty not debating the budget to this day.

Dependency Syndrome: In as much as foreign aid is essential for the development of country we should begin to look elsewhere to become more economically independent. Forty-four years after independence we are still dependent on the West for support. We can hardly stand on our own feet as a nation. It is not only the government who is diseased with begging for alms, but now many Zambians line up on street corners to ask for help.
Why not think of ways to make money as a country? I think government should be in the business of not only counting money generated from tax but also making money and devising new methods of creating a consistent cash flow. IMF and the World Bank have screwed us several times and maybe it is time we got out of those relationships and look for real relationships with mutual interests.

Brain Drain: Zambia has one of the highest rates of brain drain in the world. The emigration of highly skilled personnel such as doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, administrators, business people, etc continues year after year. With this mass departure of skill for greener pastures, who is left to do the work here in Zambia? Again, it’s back to the mediocre leaders who are running things. If many of these professionals were given incentives to stay home and work in government or develop businesses then we will be taking long strides toward poverty alleviation. The government needs to come up with incentives such as all professionals who continuously live and work in Zambia for ten years will be given a gratuity.

HIV/AIDS: Like brain drain, this disease has claimed so many potential men and women of this country. If you go to any graveyard in this country and look at the tombstones, you will notice that many of the people lying there are people who were in their 30s and 40s. When a country loses so many people in their prime years, then it risks creating a generational gap that will in turn create leadership vacuum in the future. HIV/AIDS needs to be fought relentlessly in every corner of our society and by every member. We need a healthy group of citizens who can take up the leadership positioning in various circles of our society.

Nepotism/Tribalism: Unfortunately, in Zambia, it’s who you know not what you know that counts. Tribalism continues to exist in the Zambian community and it is a big contribution to poverty in this country since its equation eliminates merit.

When capable people are marginalized and not given equal opportunities simply because of their ethnicity then we are not helping in any way to curb poverty in this country. It is natural that people will generally favor their own kind after all blood is thicker than water. However, if for once we look past that and put the interests of the Zambian society at heart, then we will be breaking down barriers we don’t need. The best people will become presidents, managers, town clerks, and members of parliament.

Illiteracy: This disease is equally a huge hindrance to development in this country. When the majority of the Zambians cannot read and write it is difficult to comprehend how we can alleviate poverty. Education is a major ingredient to national development and its importance cannot be over-emphasized. The government has done very little to make education mandatory in this country. Similarly, many Zambians lack the appetite to partake in this feast. Many give up too soon. Others have good reasons such as lack of funds, etc.

Whatever the case, we need to overcome and do our best to educate ourselves formally or informally. Literacy creates confidence. The confidence needed to open your own business, the confidence needed to encourage others to go to school too, the confidence needed to run for political office and the confidence needed to aim as high as you would want to go.

Nigerian Movies: I noticed one thing in North America that I need to mention. When I visited a white family, the television was rarely on. We would sit and talk, play games, or read books. But every time I visited a black family, the television was turned on and loud indeed at all times. For some reason, we blacks know where the ON button is on the remote and can never find the OFF. The syndrome is on in Zambia especially with the flood on Nigeria movies. These movies have created couch potatoes who sit around all day and watch movies instead of being more productive by going to the library or explore ways of generating income.

By W. Ngwenya

From the Archives


  1. We can ramble on DAY & NIGHT!!
    Africas problems /ills stem from our Constitutions currently in operation in possibly 90% of African Nations.
    * Too much power is vested in the President, & this leads to abuse by Thugs, Pirates Pimps, & Drunken charlatans masquerading as statesmen.
    * Africa has most of the untapped resources under, overground, & in our waters for those of us lucky to have coastlines. Unfortunately bribery reigns supreme, MOST African especially Sub Saharan leaders lack morals, will sell these resources for pennies to benefit the paymasters Big Nation’s who squirrel a few shekels offshore for these brutes. Why this situation – THE CONSTITUTION!

  2. cont;
    It’s not Rocket science, that Nations like Botswana, Namibia to mention a few that have better Constitutions, abuse of office is much less, development more visible, & even on the rare occasion where Corruption/abuse of office occurs, people do get brought to book Botswana being an example, unlike Zambia where one leader & his Son were taken to task for unbridled Corruption whilst in office, but in came a new Government, & after the new Governments leader passed, a broke candidate with a chequered history of embezzlement, drunkenness, low morals prevailed, he didn’t have resources to campaign so sold off all the Corruption cases for funding to enter State House. That is the folly of the current Zambian constitution!

  3. We don’t need the reasons, we already know the reasons even a five year old knows the reason. Let’s discuss solutions!

  4. Cont;
    Under this current Constitution even if an Angel, H.H, Xavier Chishimba, or whoever came to power, within weeks, they will be JUST THE SAME, with leeches including defectors from the just defeated party whispering in their ears “just how wonderful & great they are” power will surge to their heads, they WILL GET DRUNK WITH POWER, start all over again appointing these same leeches & vampires to strategic positions, & before you know it Voilà you have a little dictator staring you straight in the face & proclaiming things that perpetuate corruption, their stay in power @ the expense of development & good Governance.


  6. Poverty is perpetuated so that politicians can find a cheap source of slave labour for their campaigns and cheap voters are blissful in poverty striken areas.

  7. Dear Ngwenya, your analysis misses the core reason.

    The main reason is that the economic model that Zambia has had since before independence is flawed. The majority of our people are engaged in low productivity activities, especially in rural Zambia. Agric, trade and services account the bulk of employment – informal, low paying jobs.

    Countries largely develop through industrialization that entails a rise in productivity or producing good with more value. This should turn around. Currently, our tea farmer gets less than 10 of the value of a $5 cup in development markets.

    We have to get into value addition. But won’t happen under PF. They don’t understand this language.

  8. It is worth saying that the factors listed above a contribute to poverty but are not the major cause.

    You can add to your list other factors like high birth rate, climate change and proximity to keep markets (density it is called in international trade).

    Good question though.

  9. I actually concur with the writer where he says Nepotism/Tribalism is the major issue we have in this country and if this system is continues we go no where as a nation.

  10. A failure will always find every reason under the sun to blame other external factors for his own failures. The first step to developing yourself starts with accepting that you are your own worst enemy. Kz

  11. Anyone with a great product overcomes poverty. How much is Zambia producing and what?
    Primary and secondary production. Training people to produce great goods and create a people who are have a global market in their minds. African markets a bound by the borders. Every developed country has great men and women who are productive and innovative. They create Jobs and never seek to be employed. They contribute to the nation and find solutions. Train the people, create systems which automatically commands people to work. 7-7 men are drunk day in day out. Poverty is only defeated by a great product and service. Leadership? Personal Leadership is the best. Tell your men and women to stop taking alcohol in the morning in the evening keep the mind sober at night fashion a plan and score a goal…

  12. Everything done by Zambians is also done by people in North and South America; Europe and Asia; and many Island nations. There are very rich people in all those countries, and very poor ones (you may not have been to cave dwellers and homeless communities in America, but they exist and worse than Zambian villages in remote areas). The difference is that writers and readers from those places don’t write about the latter. Why don’t you write about Zambians who make millions of dollars and give the next generations models to aspire to within their country, instead of wasting research efforts on excuses and blames; negatives and everything to make the youth lose interest in life. Make yourself relevant by being positive. BE POSITIVE!

  13. Zambia must transform itself, its customary commoners banding together under an Ubuntu Christian guardians culture to fight such as dam construction, mining, landgrabs, carbon offsets, fish and game commercial poaching, seed colonialism, soil destruction and poisoning, and state capture of the chiefdoms natural resources. And, it must fight the Greenhouse Gas and global heating crisis, the biodiversity extinction and ecosystems ecocide by vigorously asserting its eco-religious traditions and commoner tenure rights of old. In short, a transformative revolution is required. The IPCC report of 8 October 2018, Global Warming of 1.5C, declared that the next 12 years will decide mankind’s future, placing it in an Anthropocene framework. There is no time to lose.

    Out there on the customary…

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