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By Ngande mwanajiti

Vibrations no 169

I opt not to define the word development, because it means different things to different people or entities. However, the known synonym (words which mean the same thing) could be a useful menu that throws more light for discourse. These include evolution, growth, maturing, expansion, enlargement, progress, success, blossoming, blooming, burgeoning, headway and many more.

Beyond politics, what applies to Zambia today? Are we giving in to the strong tide of neo-imperialism, with its attendant offshoots? Are we going to join the army of destructions, as well documented in the era of legalized plunder? (hate, greed, unjust enrichment, discrimination, prejudice, disregard for the environment etc)

On the other hand, stress is more targeted to natural persons and is described as “a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline”.

In agreeing with the recent assessment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and fundamentally disagreeing with the same, what is emphasized as a “stress” is Zambia’s economy. The reality though is that the cradle of productive activities in the country, beyond macro and micro economics, would need to be factored in.

The argument that known institutions, such as the Breton Wood institutions do not take into account political dynamics and undertones, is actually insincere, because if an analysis ignores context, then it is as good as futile. Economic statistics for instance as we all know, can be doctored, to present a particular outcome and this is a universal challenge, which is not peculiar to Zambia.

I have talked about the full name of the World Bank before, which is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). It is part of the Breton Wood Institutions. As far as I know, none of the Breton Wood Institutions are a charity so much that criticizing them for their suppressed profit agenda, is an understatement of acute inability to comprehend the big picture of international capital and its institutions, colloquially referred to as the Babylon System.

What we must understand and appreciate is that the Marshal Plan, to which the World Bank and others subscribed, did not include and could not have included countries like Zambia.  The question begs: Zambia has had several National Development Plans which do not appear to have matched expected outcomes. What could be the problem? Yes; finger pointing and political expediency, are inevitable but focusing on them, will not help anyone! (Not even fake news and misinformation manufacturers/peddlers). 

I ask these key questions with the potentially saddening state of our environment, in mind. It appears to me that our development trajectory has not seriously factored the critical reality of the harm that industries cause to our environment.

I am not criticizing the World Bank for no reason. There is a good reason. Here, I make reference to one of the catastrophic but profitable interventions of the World Bank. It supported the construction of the Kariba Damn, without taking due care of the environment and in particular, its residents. Most residents of the areas affected, where left to fend for themselves. This is at a time when “operation Noah” was unleashed – to save animals from drowning and other negative consequences.

It is great that some charities were kind enough to save animals. Animals are part of our natural habitat. I acknowledge the cosmetic, afterthought and failed interventions, designed to support indigenous populations – only as an accounting benchmark. 

Although the World Bank, wears a human face; industry, and the Zambian government – my government, have a moral duty to ameliorate the challenges caused by the colonial government’s quest to excavate as much copper as possible (created displacement), to the detriment of Zambia.

The World Bank

The fact that nothing significant has happened in the Valley, after decades of the construction of the Kariba Damn – (an environment unfriendly monster which is highly beneficial) only points to one thing. That is: Those tasked to represent the area(s) at different levels, did a terrible job or have continued doing such a bad job.  Deficit representation and evading confrontation of issues, at the expense of electorates and the environment!  

But beyond representation by the Provincial Minister, Members of Parliament, District Governors, (now District Commissioners) Counselors, there is central government where the buck ends.

My very honest view is that it is both irrational and impractical to think and argue that the Republic President can and should respond to such issues. Just imagine, how thought crippling it would be, to argue that the President should take over the functions of the Disaster Mitigation and Management Unit, under the office of the Vice President?

For avoidance of doubt, it is important to underline the fact that the Office of the Vice President is effectively, part of the Presidency and operates as such.     

But there exists one major problem among others. That is, the practice and propensity to politicizing noble causes. This results in abusing fellow citizens as “political pawns” through the ballot box; where key decisions are made based on mis-information. No, that is not the way to go. As an example, asking government to declare the hunger situation in Southern Province as a National Disaster is one argument which could attract political sympathies and may be used politically.

If I may ask, what is the current maize stock in Zambia to warrant such declaration?  In the event that what has been allocated is inadequate, is there no room to ask for more, so as to cure the mischief of politicking. 

I have argued before that it is not possible to cause real development through the ballot box. It is quite possible to manipulate and brainwash voters. But, more important to this debate, nature can disrupt politicking!

The solution to perennial droughts and floods is to have a holistic response to environmental issues.  When such concerns are addressed, chances of using food as a political tool are immediately neutralized and not part of the challenging issues we must deal with.

The definition of “Stress” above is important. Why? By and large, Zambia is still green and there are mega lessons to be learnt in what has been happening in drought prone areas.

Since our society generally faces stress, we can choose to respond constructively or in a destructive manner. We shall be constructive if we lean towards beneficial programs that respond to the challenges Zambia faces, beyond politics. Please note, Zambia, is not only about politics.

On the other hand, we shall be destructive if we stick to non-action and the narrative that heaps each and every challenge on the Government of the Republic of Zambia – the government of the day.

From 1964 to date, literally every political party in opposition has found it fashionable to heap blame on the government of the day. Really!

My view is that focusing on important and life threatening issues such as the “assault” on the environment, presents a great opportunity for moving away from speculations to dealing with real national issues. This also allows us to be on the same pages and separate pure partisan issues away from pure national issues, which require consensus. 

As an example, it would be unreasonable for anybody to argue and suggest that the Zambian Members of Parliament must reject the harmonized legislation as proposed by the National Dialogue Forum (NDF).  If I may ask: Just how and in whose interest? 

Let me take this opportunity to state that I am personally taken aback by those who embrace politics of hate, politics that are characterized with prejudice and politics which by design and action produce nothing but tension. As they say, you can run, but you can’t hide!

So, I doubt that there can be disagreement among Zambians that some parts of the country are experiencing consequences of harsh weather changes. No rain, very little food for animals and the inevitable change(s) in lifestyles.

For purposes of emphasis, these unwelcome and devastating patterns of weather have everything doing with collective neglect to the environment. 

There is no argument that one needs to clear land for agriculture. But there is a caveat.  Should we clear land for agriculture and ignore best practices which pay due attention to our environment?

We all have a choice between adopting conservation farming and adopting known destructive farming methods.  Looking ahead, which method should we adopt?

Here rather than the respective framing organization talking about maize prices and the timely delivery of fertilizer, including payment of farmers, ONLY, we must begin to look at possibilities of educating all of us that are engaged in agriculture. From backyard gardens to large scale farmers!

Mind you, whether you are a farmer or not, the choices that farmers make affect you. To that extent, we must begin a national debate of what is desirable and what it is not.

Remember, our geographically location called Zambia and the responsibility of maintaining its purity , lies squarely on Zambian  citizens  and its friends. Pushing it to government (Boma Iyanganeop), will not suffice.

Therefore, if we must vote, I would campaign for our environment to come first all the time.

See you next week.

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