Thursday, March 27, 2014

By Editor
Tue 17 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

"Any development which is not anchored on the betterment of the people is not development at all," says United Nations Development Programme director for Zambia Viola Morgan. We agree.

You cannot develop a country without developing the people. The economic development of a country should have as its object the enabling of citizens to live full and satisfying lives. The economy is there to serve the people, and not the people to serve the economy.

Every citizen of this country has a right to a decent standard of living, and those in government have a duty to ensure the maximisation of the use of available national resources to realise this right. This calls for the government to formulate appropriate national development policies that address equality of opportunity, access to education and health services, adequate food, housing and opportunity for employment and fair distribution of income.

A vision that situates the process of development within the human vocation is needed. In the design of God, all human beings are called upon to develop and fulfil themselves, for every life is a vocation. In this perspective, we understand development as liberation, with all that it implies, even in the economic sphere.

All human beings are called to this full development, which in the strong biblical sense we call convocation. Human beings are convoked, and the process of development lies within that convocation. We are all called to this fullness of development.

If this is true, if full, integral and authentic development liberates human beings, then it is included within the human vocation.
Everything which makes a person more human and contributes to human liberation, contains the value of salvation and communion with the Lord. In other words, integral development is salvation. Development is, therefore, to pass from less human conditions to more human conditions.

Less human conditions: the lack of material necessities for those who are without the minimum essential for life, the moral duties of those who are mutilated by selfishness. That is less human. "Less human" also means oppressive social structures, whether due to the abuses of ownership or to the abuses of power, to the exploitation of workers or to unjust transactions. Thus, "less human" are oppressive structures, something we are generally unaware of. The structure itself is oppressive, although naturally human beings are responsible for it.

As regards the passage from less human to more human, we move step by step: more human - the passage from misery toward the possession of necessities, victory over social scourges. In this case, scourges not of a personal kind but of structures. Also more human is the growth of knowledge, the acquisition of culture. More human is increased esteem for the dignity of others.

More human is co-operation for the common good, the will and desire for peace. Consequently, we can say that integral development, authentic emancipation, and human liberation are salvation. This is development, which is also a task and a call to action. The creation of a just and fraternal society is the salvation of human beings, if by salvation we mean the passage from the less human to the more human. Salvation, therefore, is not purely religious.

Development that does not lift our people out of suffering is not development. We all know that suffering is increasing while at the same time we are being told that the economy is growing, the country is developing. If that is the case, what is causing all this suffering? And what is being done to halt the suffering? We all know too well the difficult condition of our economy.

We must recall the fundamental norm of judging any economic activity; it must serve the people. We hear reports that Zambia is doing well in mining and so on and so forth. But we ask: who is Zambia? In the light of the human suffering the great majority of our people are subjected to, what Zambia are they talking about when they say, 'Zambia is doing well'?

We are so often being reminded of the investments in the mining sector and we are being promised things will be okay soon. But looking at things critically, one wonders if there will, in fact, be long-term gain from these mining activities for the majority of our people who are today wallowing in poverty.

We are not questioning the basic necessity to have foreign investment in the exploitation of our mineral resources. But we are simply calling attention to the way things are being done.

When we speak of "the economy", we are speaking of the policies and plans which control the wealth and resources of a country and about how resources are distributed between people and about how the means of production are owned and controlled. And these and their consequences come about as a result of human urgency. At the heart of every economic system lie human needs, human abilities and human decisions, and it is the choices which we make in addressing those needs, sharing those abilities and making those decisions, that determine the justice or injustice of an economic system. There is thus a moral quality about an economy, a quality which has its roots in the morally correct or incorrect choices by people; and it is the moral quality of the economy that enables us to make judgment about whether or not it is a just economy.

Poverty is not an inevitable part of human life. Poverty is ultimately a product of human decisions and can be eradicated by human decisions, leading to the great majority of our people enjoying an adequate standard of living. The fact that many of our fellow citizens die every year from lack of food, lack of basic health care and lack of shelter in an economy that is said to be doing well, to be growing, with mining investments booming, is an indication of economic injustice. The pursuit of the realisation of the right to an adequate standard of living of our people should, therefore, include attempts to redress these injustices in our economy. The key to achieving economic justice lies in human attitudes, for it is our attitudes that underlie our actions and inform our decisions. As individuals and as a nation, we need to develop a social conscience which recognises the injustice of poverty and which leads us to take action against it. Undoubtedly, the development of an effective social conscience will not happen quickly. It will have to be striven for and the striving will have to be widespread, involving all sectors of society.

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