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Monday, 8 March 2010

On Zambia's defeat and hopelessness..

A disenchanted citizen bemoans the defeat and hopelessness that continues to grip the nation. I have highlighted in bold where I agree with him, with substantiation at the end :

Ours is a loser country. Everything about this country is depressing and uninspiring. Here, everything is politics. The whole lot of Zambian leadership is an inferior species incapable of moving forward. We deserve the poverty we are experiencing because of the leadership we have allowed to govern the country. There is an erroneous belief that our pitiful condition is the result of lack of money. No. Progress is not a priority here. No amount of money can develop this country. Poverty has become part of the Zambian culture.

It’s the ‘kombonik’ management at national level that continues to fail us. The misguided socialist policies of our first president laid the foundation.
Next came the kleptomaniac. While looting the national coffers, this person had the audacity to stand in front of the nation and declare it a Christian nation; whatever that means. If you ask me, it is nothing short of blasphemy.This country cannot be representative of the kingdom of God. We are a failed state. The countless churches at every corner are just a reflection of the consequences of our self-inflicted suffering. We can blame it on the IMF, World bank, or ‘imperialists’ but deep down we know it is us who have made the mess. It is us who have failed to advance. Now people are talking about the legacy left by the third president. Apparently this man left a legacy. Then we now have the current leader whose middle name says it all.

Zambians are not a strong proud people. It’s a consequence of poverty and hunger. The humility you see is actually humiliation. It is defeat and hopelessness. The only thing that some education has done to people here is make them speak some English but no real meaningful productivity. We are experts at consuming foreign goods but cannot mend a pothole even after over 40 years of independence. Note here, I said mend not build (a road) because that would be asking way too much.

A Zambian will laugh at you for wearing third rate Chinese clothes but cannot produce anything. Your national state-owned media and state of roads says everything about who we are: backward. But don’t worry. Elections are coming soon so we should be able to see some roads being repaired if we are lucky. Living in this country is scary and depressing. It is like living in a house where no one is working but somehow you are managing to pay rent and utility bills. Grace of God? I don’t think so. It’s just our ‘kaponya’ culture. With its filthy ugly disorderly towns, it is no wonder we are not patriotic
There are three important points he makes.

First, ultimately we are the architects of our own destiny. We all have leaders we deserve. If our leaders are inept it is because we have allowed that situation to prevail. If leaders steal votes, its because we have allowed them. If leaders don't tax foreign corporations, its because we have allowed them. I know "external forces" play a role and so does history. But  how long are we going to blame these things? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? I would be a street beggar if I blamed detractors all my life. Many Zambians around the world are daily overcoming improbable odds. External and negative forces will always be around us, but ultimately we have been endowed by God with all that is necessary to make a positive contribution to our existence. The buck stops with us. As soon as we realise that the sooner we shall recognise that we are part of the solution.

Secondly, we cannot make progress without having a leadership that is accountable to the people. You can donate all the books and health material you want. You can support businesses on the ground (like we are doing), but none of this will make a difference with poor and unresponsive leadership. If the head is rotten the body is dead. Change unfortunately needs to start at the top. It is not about money or resources. That is not to say all we need to do is select new leaders. No we need to have a new institutional realignment that incentivises better and more credible leaders to emerge. Its about getting the fundamentals right. Zambia does not need a cult leader with vision, we need a new institutional architecture that supports the push for the tripod -  a society built  on : strong democracy; strong markets; and, strong religious and cultural institutions.

Thirdly, Zambia's Christianity is at odds with the true gospel.  If Zambia really has embraced the true gospel, why is there so much corruption? Why are many of our people living on less than $1 a day when there are many resources around?  While people in leadership enjoy lavish trips abroad and the best medical facilities we see that many of our people suffer daily from social injustice. The voices of the weak are suppressed and cries of mothers are never heard again thanks to the scourge of HIV and many other diseases ravaging our rural areas. The Prophet Amos reminds us "let justice flow like a river, and righteousness like an overflowing stream". If Zambia aspired to fulfil its biblical mandate, surely the start would be putting these words into action? The Christian message is that God holds us ultimately responsible for the welfare of our neighbours. The declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, though having some intellectual basis remains morally at variance with reality.

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