Monday, June 17, 2013

Reliance on foreigners
By Editor
Thu 13 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom says Zambia's challenges can be fully addressed by Zambians and not foreigners. This is true.

As much as no country in this world can solve all its problems by itself, we should focus much more on self-reliance. We should hope for foreign assistance, but we shouldn't be dependent on it; we need to depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of our people.

We should rely on the forces we ourselves organise for us to defeat poverty, backwardness and underdevelopment. The progress of our country should rest on our own strength, and this means regeneration through our own efforts.

As ambassador Nordstrom correctly observes, we are perfectly capable of deciding upon our own future and discovering and we ourselves dealing with any dangers which might arise.

We need to exert ourselves that much more, and break out of the vicious cycle of dependence imposed on us by the financially powerful; those in command of immense market power and those who dare to fashion the world in their own image.

Yes, we can from time to time seek the assistance of others, but this does not take away our responsibility to deal with our own challenges.

There is just too much dependence on others. Everything we do has to have the input of foreigners. Any small disagreement we have with each other, we rush to foreigners to intervene. Any initiative we come up with, it has to be supported and funded by foreigners.

We seem to have lost faith in ourselves. We seem to trust even foreigners of lower capacity than our own people.

We are living in a very different world. That is the first thing we need to understand. We are no longer a colony to be looked after by the coloniser. We are an independent country. But as we have seen, this independence guarantees us nothing. All it offers us instead is the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. This independence of ours, if looked at critically, is then both a promise and a challenge. It is a promise that free human beings, working together, can govern themselves in a manner that will serve their aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice. It is a challenge because the success of this enterprise, this independent country of ours, rests upon the shoulders of its citizens, and no one else.

Government of the people and by the people means that the citizens of an independent country share in its benefits and in its burdens. By accepting the task of self-government, one generation seeks to preserve the hard-won legacy of individual freedom, human rights and the rule of law for the next. In each society and in each generation, the people must perform the work of their independent country anew - taking the principles of the past and applying them to the practices of a new age and a changing society.

Josef Brodsky, Russian-born poet and Nobel Prize winner, once wrote, "A free man, when he fails, blames nobody." It is true as well for the citizens of an independent country who, finally, must take responsibility for the fate of the country in which they themselves have chosen to live.

It is time we restored confidence in ourselves and stop believing there is someone else out there to look after us, to take care of our problems.

This habit of thinking others owe us a living and are there to solve all our problems, including resolving the differences among ourselves, will take us nowhere. Of course, we were subjected for many years to the colonial tactics of divide and rule. We were played against each other. We were made to hate and despise each other.

We know the consequences of such practices. In the end, we were made to hate ourselves without realising it. Even today, we are still being made to hate each other, fight each other and to consequently hate ourselves. You can't hate what constitutes your country without hating yourself. They are masters at making us hate each other, hate ourselves. They are master hate teachers, so much so that they make us think they are teaching love to us, when they are teaching us to hate each other. When you make a person hate himself, he is finished.

Even when it comes to business, we would rather have foreigners owning and controlling all the vital and best resources of our country. The most profitable business sectors we give to foreigners to make super profits and appear to be better entrepreneurs and managers than our own people. The investment incentives that we give to foreigners, our people don't get them. Our leaders are more accessible to foreigners than ourselves. Why should this be so? Which country has ever been developed totally by foreigners?

In saying all this, we are not in any way implying that we should hate foreigners and foreign investment. We need it. We cannot do without it in this highly globalised world that we today live in. All we are trying to say is that there is need to place greater reliance on the contributions from our people. This is where the ultimate success or failure of our country rests. And Dr Kenneth Kaunda put this point aptly: "In future, therefore, we shall welcome foreign capital as in the past. We remain committed to this policy for we need foreign capital in considerable amounts. All we ask our investors is the understanding that we welcome them as participants, and not controllers, of our economic development process" (UNIP national council, August 11, 1969).

We should be proud of our independence. But our independence today doesn't reside in us declaring ourselves to be independent or in our constitution. It resides in ourselves, as true and dedicated members of this country, who believe in themselves and who see themselves as being responsible for the fate of this country.

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