Friday, April 20, 2012
By The Post
Thu 19 Apr. 2012, 13:00 CAT
IT is becoming increasingly clear that while huge investments have been made in the country's key economic sectors, this trend does not appear to be very effective in making a dent on rural poverty. This is so because the gap between the majority poor and the rich keeps widening while billions of dollars are pumped into productive sectors of our country's economy. Most of our people still live on less than a dollar a day; many have little or no access to proper medical care and quality education facilities and many other services required in an organised society.
But we are comforted by the fact that Michael Sata and his government seem to have a strong desire to change things for the better, especially for the poor. There is a lot of talk and intentions being expressed in this direction.
However, what remains and what is important is to change things. Not long ago, the previous government launched what it called the Vision 2030 that seeks to transform the country into a middle-income prosperous nation by 2030 - an initiative that has been adopted by the current government.
The objectives of this vision, which we believe are attainable, include: to diversify and develop a strong industrial sector with a modern agriculture industry; making technology proficient, adaptable and innovative; and investing through human and natural resources. It is good that the Vision 2030 programme has been carried through into the new government.
However, we know that the most attainable visions are those that are accompanied by a very clear strategy, which is followed through a specific set of actions that are regularly monitored, with clear accountability for the delivery of the outcomes.
This is one of the areas that our new government needs to pay attention to. They have a very huge task before them which needs the participation of every well-meaning Zambian to turn our country around.
Taking this country to another level goes beyond the everyday politics; it requires a dedicated and disciplined government that is free of corruption, and willing citizens who are ready to play a part in building a better Zambia that will be good for all of us to live in.
Michael is providing the necessary leadership but the people have to take charge, they have to govern - leaders lead, the people govern. Transforming our country into a middle income economy by 2030 will definitely not be an easy task.
It will require a very committed, self-sacrificing and exemplary political leadership at all levels. It will also require a citizenry that is aware of its role and is willing to play its part. Vision 2030, in itself, guarantees us nothing.
It offers instead the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. In this sense, it is both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that if we work together and commit ourselves to this common vision, we can govern our country in a manner that will serve our aspirations for economic opportunity and social justice.
It is a challenge because the success of the Vision 2030 rests upon all of us as citizens of this country and on no one else. Moreover, it is said that government of and by the people means that the citizens of a democratic society share in its benefits and in its burdens.
And it is also said that when a free man fails he blames nobody. It is true as well for citizens of a country who, finally, must take responsibility for the fate of the society in which they themselves have chosen to live. In the end, we get a country we deserve, we live in a way we deserve.
Every one of us has to make a contribution. We cannot build an economy or a society purely on the basis of entitlement. The state will provide certain things but we also need to mobilise our sweat equity.
Attaining this vision also places great responsibility upon citizens who must not only hold their leaders accountable but must also support genuine efforts that are being made to reform our economy.
By holding leaders accountable, we mean having citizens who will question the wrong decisions that our leaders in government make; ensuring that public resources are equitably and prudently spent on the needy areas of our country, and most importantly, having citizens that will also take a leading role in the fight against corruption.
The Vision 2030 will be a far-fetched dream if those in leadership do not lead the way in the whole process of turning our country into a middle-income status. Looking at the abundance of the natural resources and the dedication of the top leadership of our country, the task to transform this nation to a middle income status can and will be attained.
The starting point should be to ensure that the majority of our people have access to basic services such as shelter, food, healthcare, decent education, clean and safe drinking water and proper sanitation.
There is need to come up with programmes that are tailored to the needs of the majority poor, the marginalised who still constitute the largest portion of our country's population today.
What our country needs are coordinated efforts from the grassroots to the highest leadership. Problems need resources to fix them. But this will only happen if resources are placed in right areas that have the potential for massive job creation and poverty eradication.
And this also requires all those in government start to sing the same song; to begin to see the same vision for our people; it requires all leaders in government put up a spirited fight against corruption to ensure that resources reach intended beneficiaries.
This also requires our government to put in place policies that will encourage private investments in areas of agriculture, manufacturing and other key sectors of our economy. At the same time, the government needs to both expand and improve the efficiency of its own investments to support agriculture, especially in infrastructure.
There will be twists and turns in our efforts to realise the Vision 2030. There are still many obstacles and difficulties on our way. The difficulties will be many. We know that some people don't like to think much about difficulties.
But difficulties are facts; we must recognise as many difficulties as there are and 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 try to get things on the cheap. It must not be imagined that one fine morning we will wake up and find the Vision 2030 all there, all realised.
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. By the leadership uniting with the entire people in a common effort, we can certainly overcome all difficulties and realise the Vision 2030.
It is sheer fantasy to imagine that the Vision 2030 is all plain-sailing and easy to realise, without difficulties and setbacks or the exertion of tremendous efforts.