|Manda Hill in Lusaka|
Unequal income distribution is one of the major causes of high poverty levels in our nation. The ratio between the rich and the poor is abnormal. The economy could be
hailed by IMF, World Bank and the international community for having performed well, but one may ask just how even the revenue generated from such highly praised favourable economic activities is distributed. To be honest, there is a big problem in as far as this issue is concerned. The majority know. Even when the much talked about windfall tax is introduced, will the income be evenly distributed? I doubt! This matter has got very little public attention and discussion, and yet it is critical in as far as social-economic development is concerned.
No wonder we still hear people and socially focused institutions coming out strongly on the high poverty levels in most communities in our country. These are not mere fabrications; these sentiments are very true. Our economy has been commended for making positive economic strides. But for who? Mind you, all economic activities are supposed to be people-focused. So when there is a general outcry from the masses, it is just prudent to listen and strike a balance. If there are any conflicting economic goals, better forgo others in order to achieve urgent ones by trade-off method. This could be short, medium or long term. Such measures should benefit the majority especially the poor.
Consensus is cardinal in this respect for priority will be given on merit. We should not be on the rails like all that is being done is good for this country. Regulating an economy is a very complicated issue and you can never be certain if what you are doing is right. Because you don't have perfect foresight and you don't have complete control over all economic problems. Hence, the need to listen and cultivate political will to better the livelihood of the majority Zambians.
the new Ndola National Stadium
|The reality for many people|
For one thing there's a clear economic lesson that economic growth could be unsustainable in the long term without policies that reduce the income divide between members of society or at-least prevents a widening of the divide. It is therefore necessary to ensure that pro-growth policies go hand in hand with social and income equality goals - in Angela's words, "If there are any conflicting economic goals, better forgo others in order to achieve urgent ones by trade-off method". These policy linkages are important because income inequality has important implications for social cohesion (i.e. whether we as a society feel more as one nation with common interests). Social cohesion is important because a more united nation would be able to have internal peace and its citizens would lead happier lives. In our case a more socially cohesive Zambia would prevent people saying “we want Western province independent".
This is why responsible governments generally pursue policies that encourage civic engagement through initiatives such as devolved decision making and greater voter participation. Unless we as a society are more cohesive, the problems of crime, calls for secession and general disorder would not be easily eliminated. When people see others more richer than them and large international corporation taking away their land, while they wallow in poverty, they will crave those things and at times resort to disorder.
No one has described the the linkage between greater inequality and a less cohesive society better than James K. Galbraith. In his book Created Unequal : The Crisis in American Pay , Galbraith argues that when citizens have diverging access to services (due to income and social inequality) the result can be social and political fracturing. Inequality may endager society’s ability to think of itself as a single entity or nation. In his words :
“With high inequality, it becomes easy to know whether one is likely in the long run to be a net gainer, or a net loser, from public programs of family assistance, pension security, and health care. High inequality therefore weakness the willingness to share at the sane time that it concentrates resources in the hands least inclined to be willing. In this way inequality threatens the ability of society to provide for the weak, the ill, and the old”.Perhaps now is the time we paid attention to Angela's wisdom.