Simon Kalolo Kabanda asks: ‘What are some of the Indicators of poverty?!’ – 27th June 2006
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE INDICATORS OF POVERTY?
27 June 2006
It had to take the Commerce Deputy Minister to admit that it was not a priority of the New Deal Government to come up with a new Republican Constitution during its first term in office. The deputy minister revealed that the priority of the government was to end the poverty of the Zambian people.
What are some of the indicators of this poverty?
One: UNEMPLOYMENT. A lot of people who are supposed to be in employment now are unemployed. The old have been retrenched. The middle-aged have not been able to find employment. The young who have reached working age do not even know that they are supposed to be in employment.
Two: HUNGER. Today, many people go for days without food. Those who can afford some food only manage to eat one meal a day. The majority of those who go for work spend their lunch hour on an empty stomach.
Three: SLAVE WAGES. Most Zambian workers earn wages which do not make them survive from month-end to month-end. Today, the government has increased minimum wages to K268,000 (two hundred and sixty-eight thousand kwacha) when an average family needs more than K1,000,000 (one million kwacha) per month for the basics only.
Four: DESTITUTE PENSIONERS. A lot of retired people in Zambia have not been paid their dues. They have spent, and continue to spend, their time travelling to Lusaka, only to be told, “File not traced”, and they are given a fresh appointment. Many of them cannot even send their children to school because they have no money. Generally, they live in destitution.
Five: STREET VENDING. Many people of productive age are on the streets selling different types of merchandise. A lot of what they sell are imported. Zambia has become a dumping ground for manufactured goods. There is very little production going on in the country.
Six: POOR ROADS. Many roads in the country are an eyesore. Talk about the main roads leading to various destinations in the country, from the provincial centres to the districts, they are terrible.
Seven: DIRTY DRINKING WATER. It is not uncommon for many rural communities to share drinking water with animals. Many people drink coloured water from rivers or streams or wells.
Eight: INADEQUATE HEALTH FACILITIES. The health sector in the country is limping. Clinics and hospitals are far from the reach of the majority of Zambians. Where there are clinics, there are no drugs or medical staff. People die in numbers from preventable and curable diseases.
Nine: RISING ILLITERACY LEVELS. Today, more and more children cannot access education for various reasons. For some, it is due to economic constraints, while for others it is due to the absence of educational facilities in their areas, or the lack of teachers in most rural schools.
The Deputy Minister informed the nation that the New Deal Administration was pre-occupied with addressing poverty in Zambia. This meant that government’s priorities were the above listed areas of concern. How did the New Deal Administration endeavour to address these issues? Was it genuinely concerned about addressing these issues? The above-listed problems affecting the Zambian people require that the root causes are addressed. Should we divorce the Republican Constitution from being one of the root causes? Is it correct to state that government’s priority is addressing poverty rather than addressing the Constitution? The purpose of the government is to ensure that its citizens have what they need to live as human beings. This is what is meant by governance. And how is the government supposed to govern? The government is supposed to be given guidelines on how it should govern and these guidelines are supposed to be reflected in the Republican Constitution. The current Republican Constitution is disastrous in that it states that the rights to livelihood, employment, health, education, clean and safe water, decent shelter and the rights of persons with disability and the aged can only be considered as rights in certain instances. The Constitution further states (in Article 111) that the government cannot be held accountable if these are not fulfilled. For this reason, government does not feel compelled to address them. We cannot therefore say that government’s priority is to address poverty when poverty is not being addressed in the context of the Constitution.
(Simon Kabanda; extract from KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTION, pp. 138-140)
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