Saturday, January 15, 2011

(STICKY) (MRK) Barotseland Lessons - We're On The Wrong Economic Path

For a long time, I have argued for the decentralisation of power to local government level. One reason is the clear danger posed by devolution of power to the provincial level, which is enshrining tribalism into government structures, and the creation of local ethnically based elites, like the BRE.

I think this is a recipe for disaster, and the use of real issues of poverty and exploitation of the people of the country to rally around the Barotseland issue is proving this out. People should not die for the right of some local elite to increase it's power in the hope that some of it will come to them, but that is what this is pointing toward.

The national government is to blame for thinking that they can hang on to power indefinitely. Where the NCC was an opportunity to decentralise power to local government, instead the VP directed NCC left devolution in the hands of parliament, instead of enshrining it in the constitution.

What we are seeing now is that very poor people can be mobilized to 'make a change', any change, irrespective of whether that change presents the best change for them, or whether it mainly benefits some local elite. This is what the result of neglecting the people is - it leaves them open to manipulation by people with their own agendas.

The people would not be this susceptible if they had good jobs that paid a living wage. Instead, they are out on the street, without hope for improvement in their or their children's lives. Children are out on the street instead of in school.

This is a recipe for rebellion.

It is also the direct result of the government's choice to follow neoliberal economic policies which benefit only foreign corporations.

Enough is enough. We should not stand by and watch Zambia descend into unrest and rebellion. This government ran out of ideas as soon as it achieved it's goal of getting into power in 1991. Well that is 20 years ago. The Finance Minister stated that, following the present economic policies, there will be no significant reduction in poverty for another 30 years.

The eagerness of the people to join these Barotseland people shows you, that you do not have 30 years, or 20, or 10.

We need a 180 degree change in economic policy - TODAY.

We need to:

* tax the mines at $1.2 billion a year or more, or renationalize, to finance the policies below:

* start spending 50% of national revenues directly at local council level

* spend money on works projects - farms, dams, roads - productive infrastructure

* raise people's incomes by instituting and enforcing a living wage, instead of having a 'minimum wage'

*Foreign corporations should not be allowed to pay Zambian workers less than the minimum wage in their own country, or the Zambian living wage, whichever is higher

* unionise every worker in the country

* lower bank lending rates to below the rate of inflation so small and medium size entrepreneurs and farmers can emerge

* universal healthcare

By diverting revenues from the mines into productive infrastructure and businesses, the country will develop. When that development comes with Zambian ownership, wealth creation will be a continuous process, rather than a gimmick.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home