Friday, August 01, 2008

Rupiah is right

Rupiah is right
By Editor
Friday August 01, 2008 [04:00]

THE existence of large numbers of hungry and undernourished individuals within our families should constitute an affront to all of us. The observations made by Vice-President Rupiah Banda about the need to transform our society deserve serious consideration. Truly, no one should be proud to have what Vice-President Banda calls a peasant, that is a poor person, within our families

We agree with Vice-President Banda that “no one from our society should go without three meals in a day; no one in our families should not have access to electricity, lighting, television…” Of course it will not be easy for us to provide these things to our people. Our country is too poor to give our people great material wealth, but we can give them a sense of equality, of human dignity.

Time for small thinking is over. We must adapt our thinking to the changed conditions in our country and in the world. Of course no one should go off into wild flights of fancy, or make plans of action unwarranted by the objective situation, or stretch for the impossible. The present problem is that many people consider it impossible to accomplish things which could be accomplished if they exerted themselves.

We should always use our brains and think everything over carefully. A common saying goes, “Knit your brows and you will hit upon a stratagem.” In other words, much thinking yields wisdom.

In order to get rid of the blindness which exists to a serious extent in our country’s political leadership, we must encourage our leaders to think.

We have made virtue out of our inadequacies. If our country is to move forward, intelligence, honesty and hard work are demanded of all of us, and especially from those in leadership positions.

And as Vice-President Banda correctly observed, the development of our country requires the participation of all of us; “government alone cannot build all the roads, universities and social services…” The responsibility for eradicating poverty – peasants as Vice-President Banda puts it – will depend on mobilising the sweat equity of our people themselves. No one can build an economy or a society purely on the basis of entitlement; people have to make a contribution. They have to have a sense of ownership.

And as Cuban President Raul Castro recently put it, social justice and equality means “equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income. Equity is not egalitarianism. The latter is ultimately another form of exploitation: That of the good worker by one who is not, or, even worse, by the idle”.

But it is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental needs to remain unsatisfied. There are many people in our country who each day cannot meet the basic needs necessary for a descent human life. Economic justice requires that each individual has adequate resources to survive, to develop and thrive, and to give back in service to the community. And economic growth depends in the first place on social progress. Therefore, all of us should advocate just government policies.

And those in business should understand what their correct roles are or should be. The roles of business owners and management have a central importance from the view point of society, because they are at the heart of that network of technical, commercial, financial and cultural bonds that characterise the modern business reality.

For this reason, the exercise of responsibility by business owners and management requires constant reflection on the moral motivations that should guide the personal choices of those to whom these tasks fall. The motive of business should be not only to make profit but even more to contribute to the common good of society.

Businesses should be characterised by their capacity to serve the common good of society through the production of useful goods and services.

The sense of responsibility in economic initiative should demonstrate the individual and social virtues necessary for the development.
A business enterprise must be a community of solidarity. And solidarity is a basic fact of human existence.

No person is an island, cut off from others and self-sufficient. We should always remember the African proverb: “I am because we are, we are because I am.”

It is our fellow human beings, and especially those who lack life and need justice, in whom God wishes to be served and loved.

They are the ones with whom Jesus identified: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’” (Matt. 25:37-40).

It should never be that the anger of the poor, the peasants should be the finger of accusation pointed at all of us because we failed to respond to the cries of the people for food, for shelter, for the dignity of the individual.

None can be at peace while others wallow in poverty and insecurity. A stable, permanent solution must be found for this serious problem of poverty. There is need for us to struggle, with international support, to draw up plans so that our people can meet their needs for basic foodstuffs as much as possible.

We need to create an awareness of the inevitable need – if we wish to end the existence of ‘peasants’ – for profound socioeconomic and structural changes that will make it possible to adopt higher forms of agricultural production.

But it will be folly and sheer fantasy for anyone to imagine that we can end poverty in our country in a plain-sailing way, without difficulties and setbacks or the exertion of tremendous efforts. We must be prepared to overcome all difficulties with an indomitable will and in a planned way.

And our people should never forget that the wealth of 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 difficulty in the world which they cannot overcome.

Vice-President Banda is right and let’s give serious consideration to what he has said.

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