Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Don't expect much from govt, church'

COMMENT - Working hard and telling people to work hard are two different things. When you have a government that can't be bothered about collecting all the taxes due to the people, including minister Chikwanda, they have no moral highground from which to tell other people to work hard. I want to hear from the government that they are working hard every day to secure a new Windfall Tax, or show that their taxation collects as much if not more taxes than the Windfall Tax would. Personal responsibility is not something other people take - it starts at home. And no more lecturing - let's see some results.

'Don't expect much from govt, church'
By The Post
Sun 16 Dec. 2012, 11:10 CAT

"We expect too much from the government. Yes, they can provide education, they can provide health, but people should realise that they have to do a lot on their own in order to succeed in life. A lot of people have a negative attitude towards life; they give up before they even try.

People don't want to work, they do not want to use initiative, they don't want to do anything at all. And to change that kind of mindset is the challenge that we have as a country. We need to institute programmes at an early age where we instil in the minds of young people virtues of entrepreneurship...people who claim to be poor, some of them have something to offer, but they have not encouraged themselves to do something.

Some people have even been to school, but because of high unemployment levels, they just sit back and decide to go on the street. The government, the Church can only do so much, in the end it's up to the individual to apply themselves in order to get out of the poverty trap," says Maxwell Sichula, the former executive secretary of the Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Association.

And we agree with him because it would be very unreasonable to understand the sad situation of poverty that the great majority of our people today find themselves in as something alien, which some distant relative bequeathed us. On the contrary, we have to accept this sad legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. If we accept it as such, we will understand that it is up to us all, and up to us only, to do something about it.

We cannot continue to blame others for our sad legacy of poverty; not only would it be untrue, but also because it could blunt the duty that each of us faces today to do something about it, to make a contribution towards its eradication.

As Max says, "the government, the Church can only do so much, in the end it's up to the individual to apply themselves in order to get out of the poverty trap". The best government in the world, the best president, the best political representatives, cannot achieve much on their own. And it would also be wrong to expect a general remedy for our poverty from them only.

Moreover, democracy includes participation and, therefore, responsibility from us all. If we realise this, then this legacy of poverty will cease to appear so terrible. If we realise this, hope will return to our hearts.

Government and church intervention only works when the people concerned seem to be keen for progress, for the eradication of poverty. The government, the Church can only provide certain limited things. But the responsibility for the rest will depend on mobilising the sweat equity of the people themselves. You cannot build an economy or a society purely on the basis of entitlement from the government.

Every citizen has to make a contribution; people have to make a contribution and have a sense of ownership which they don't get from being given things they don't even know where they are coming from, things which they don't own, which they don't have a stake in and haven't helped in producing.

This is the type of talk our people should be made to listen to. Alexander Chikwanda, our Minister of Finance, has said something similar on this score. More and more voices need to be heard on this issue.

We have heard and we know what government says it would do. And all this is there in government budgets and economic development programmes. What we need to hear now is what the people will do; what every one of us intends to do to bring progress and prosperity to our country, to our neighbourhoods, to our families and to every citizen of this country.

[Well I haven't heard about the government's budgets and development programmes. And I consider myself pretty well informed. Perhaps it is a failure to communicate and demonstrate what the government is doing that is the problem? - MrK]

And, of course, we want to hear more and more government telling people what it is not going to do for them as it tells them what it's going to do for them. We feel it is very important for the government to tell our people what it will not do for them, what they need to do for themselves. There is no need to patronise them.

They should instead be challenged and told that if they want to continue living in poverty, without food and good clothes, they should continue being lazy, not wanting to work, but drinking every day. They should be told that if they want to move out of poverty, if they want better things, they must work hard and that government cannot do it all for them; they must do it for themselves.

And this is in line with the true meaning of democracy - a growth in the confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves; a growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding, creating together.

The poverty the great majority of our people are in is not an easy thing to eradicate. It is a very difficult problem for any government to face, but to solve it, we need hard-working and public-spirited politicians, we need people of courage who will defend the truth and demand justice for the poor, for the ordinary and others. We also need individuals who will tell our people, including the most affected, the truth.

Everyone, in one way or another, needs to work. This is so because work is an essential element of human dignity. Through work, we cooperate with the Creator in bringing to fulfilment the created world; we exercise our God-given abilities and talents as co-workers with God in the great task of transforming the material world. As such, work is not simply an onerous necessity, coincidental with our physical existence, a burden which we should try to escape.

It is a vital part of our humanity, the manifestation of our creativity, an opportunity for our growth and fulfilment. Indeed, work is nothing less than a constituent dimension of the purpose for which the world was created and for which we ourselves were brought into being. To live is to be active; and for a human being, this means the exercise of one's faculties of mind and body. Where this activity is directed towards winning a livelihood or improving one's mode of life, it normally involves fatigue and is called work.

In our present state, as children of Adam striving against odds to attain security and liberty, work is indispensable. It is imposed upon us by God; since without fatigue a human being cannot now, as God decreed, fill the earth and bring it to serve the needs of human being; "all the days of your life you shall win food... with toil" (Gen 3:17).

Work does not detract from the dignity of a human person; rather it increases the person's worth, for it is the means whereby the person overcomes the defects and limitations of one's fallen nature and reaches the goal that God has fixed for that person. The true value of work is communicated to it by the worker, so that there is no such thing as degrading work since even the meanest chore is elevated and ennobled by the dignity of the person. Think, for example, of Christ in the humble workshop of Nazareth!

Of course, we know that our President is very desirous of every citizen having a quality job. But every job has dignity in itself. What is needed is those involved in every job to give it their best. If your job is to clean offices, homes, hospitals and so on and so forth, what you are doing is a noble job; it is something very dignified and you have a duty to do it well.

Ending where we started, don't expect much from government, Church; "they can only do so much." In the end, it's up to you.

Moreover, who is government? Government is you; it's us. We can eradicate poverty, but we can only eradicate it by working together with government, Church. We must do it together. We must combat it together because this can only be done together. Leaders lead, but in the end, the people govern. Let's use hope, hard work and imagination as weapons of survival and progress. We must never surrender to poverty. Don't give up. We know it's tough sometimes. Bu

We understand what poverty can do to the confidence, pride, dignity of an individual, but don't give up. It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. We will, somehow, by God's grace, change things for the better if we work together - government, Church and us all. We can manage to take away poverty, despair and give our people prosperity and hope. We can do it together and by the grace of God.

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