Friday, May 09, 2008

'Willpower is necessary to defeat poverty'

'Willpower is necessary to defeat poverty'
By Editor
Friday May 09, 2008 [04:00]

It will not be possible for us to defeat poverty and develop without increasing or restoring the confidence of our people in themselves. To restore the confidence of our people in themselves is only the first step in a long march towards eradicating poverty and developing our country.

We have a great country, but developing it will require a lot of effort, hard work and sacrifice. And this must be made clear to all our people and their political leaders. Our people and their leaders must be helped to remain modest, prudent and free from arrogance and rashness in their style of work.

But on what basis should our policies and efforts in trying to defeat poverty and develop rest? It should rest on our own strength, and that means eradicating poverty and developing our country through our own efforts.

However, no country in the world can overcome or solve all its problems by itself; we need the help and support of others; we need friends to help us. Nevertheless, we should stress in everything we do the need for eradicating poverty and developing our country through our own efforts. Relying on the forces and efforts we ourselves organise, we can defeat poverty.

We should stand for self-reliance. It is not wrong for us to hope for foreign aid but we should not depend on it; we should depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of our people and their leaders.

Dependence is a terrible disease and it kills all our initiatives. There is need for us to change our attitudes and start to believe that we can solve our problems with very little, or without, outside help. This dependence syndrome we have today must disappear if we are to see a reversal of fortunes. By dependence syndrome we mean an attitude and belief that we cannot solve our problems without outside help. And this is a weakness that is made worse by charity or aid.

For instance, if an outside agency comes to a community and constructs a human settlement facility, like water supply, it is natural for the community members to see it as belonging to the outside agency. When that outside agency goes away or runs out of funds, the community members will have no motivation to repair and maintain the facility, or to sustain the service in order for the facility to be used, and used effectively, by the community members.

In order for the facility to be maintained and sustained, the community members must have a sense of responsibility for the facility.

Unless the community as a whole has been involved in decision making about the facility – planning and management – and has willingly contributed to the cost of its construction, the sense of responsibility or ownership will be missing. It will not be effectively used, maintained or sustained. It is impossible to build a human settlement facility or service and not expect that it has to be repaired and maintained. That is like trying to eat once and for all.

Whereas it was once thought that community self-reliance in itself was a good thing, it promoted grassroots democracy, human rights, self-development and human dignity, now it has gone much further than that. If communities cannot become more and more self-reliant and empowered, they will simply not develop, and so poverty and apathy will eventually destroy them. Therefore, countering dependence should receive a lot of attention. Dependence must be reduced in every action we take.

And when one looks at the way our national economy is managed, there is very little, or no democracy at all, in this sphere. The involvement of our people in national economic decisions and policies and the way they are implemented is very low. The donors literally make the decisions and arrange things in such a way as to make them appear as though they are ours. But in reality, all that we are implementing is donor policies.

We should carry on constant propaganda among the people on the facts of world progress and the bright future ahead so that they will build their confidence in themselves and their efforts. At the same time, we must tell the people that there will be twists and turns in our road. There are still many obstacles and difficulties on the road of progress in eradicating poverty.

We should assume that the difficulties will be many, for we should prefer to assume there will be more difficulties rather than fewer. Some of our people and our leaders do not like to think much about difficulties. But difficulties are facts; we must recognise as many difficulties as there are and should not adopt a policy of non-recognition.

We must recognise difficulties, analyse them and combat them. There are no straight roads in the world; we must be prepared to follow a road which twists and turns and not to try to get things on the cheap. It must not be imagined that one fine morning all our poverty will go away through the help of donors and the investments of foreign entrepreneurs.

We have done crazy things in many areas of our country’s economic management. We have left too many decisions in the hands of donors and foreign investors. For instance, today a few foreign companies determine which minerals should be discovered and put up for mining. We have no say on what should be mined and in what quantities; it’s all left in the hands of foreign private investors. They are the ones determining our future. This doesn’t make sense. This is ridiculous. This is carelessness.

In a word, while the prospects are bright, the road has twists and turns. There are still many difficulties ahead which we must not overlook. But if our leaders unite with all our people in a common effort, we can certainly overcome all difficulties and defeat poverty and achieve high levels of development.

Anyone who sees only the bright side but not the difficulties cannot fight poverty effectively.

The wealth of a society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. If they take their destiny into their own hands and take an active attitude in solving problems instead of evading them, there will be no difficulties in the world which they cannot overcome.

We therefore agree with the remarks made by our Japanese friends urging us to develop a strong will power if we are to defeat poverty and develop our country. We should also heed their advice on dependence.

Our people and their leaders must take all this fully into account and be prepared to overcome all difficulties with an indomitable will and in a planned way.

However, in times of difficulty, we must not lose sight of our achievements, must see the bright future and must pluck up our courage. In building new things, we often experience difficulties and setbacks. It is sheer fantasy to imagine that the cause of eradicating poverty and developing our country is all plain sailing and easy success, without difficulties and setbacks or the exertion of tremendous effort.

At certain times in any struggle, the difficulties outweigh the favourable conditions and so constitute the principal aspect of the contradiction and the favourable conditions constitute the secondary aspect. But through their efforts, our people and their leaders can overcome the difficulties step-by-step and open up a favourable new situation; thus a difficult situation gives way to a favourable one.

Moreover, what is work? Work is struggle. There are difficulties and problems in our efforts to eradicate poverty and develop our country which we must overcome and solve. We must work and struggle to overcome these difficulties. And a good leader and citizen is one who is more eager to go where the difficulties are greater.

It is time we realised that no one will develop this country for us; Zambia will primarily move forward through our own efforts and sacrifices.

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