This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Zambia - You Could Be GREAT!

After living in Lusaka, Zambia for almost two years I have been pondering about some of the frustrations and how things should be better than they currently are.

I am talking mostly about the economy in Zambia.

Zambians need jobs and an income so they can care for their families.

I know I will simplify things, but I see many Zambians getting an education but not getting jobs.
I see many Zambians working hard and hustling to make ends meet by "trading" on the streets.
I see many Zambians working for non-native Zambians.  These employers expect very long hours (10 -12 hour days, six days a week) and pay very low wages when they do pay, and often delay paying their employees.  The employees are at their mercy, as any job is hard to get and there is hope that the pay will come.

There are successful Zambians.  Their success seems to come from very large farming operations, or expanding rental units for cash flow.  But the number one way to succeed in Zambia is to work for the Zambian government.  Those jobs are clearly available to family of those in power and as a political favour.

That is difficult for others to watch but that is the reality of government jobs in Zambia.  You might study and qualify at the top of a group but the job will go to an insider.  I understand all of that.  When you are not in the "in" crowd, you just try harder or try to find a way to be an insider.

Now here is my biggest gripe.
Those in government are not governing responsibly to help ALL of Zambia grow their economy.

Zambia government does not generate enough cash through taxes.  Not enough exports, not enough personal income to tax, not enough tourism.  How can the government improve the lives of all its citizens and not just government workers?

1.  Zambia's government employees must quit taking such a big percentage of the money passing through their hands for themselves.

2.  Education is not really free in Zambia.  Yes, free if you are in a government school of classes of 100 students and the teaching is geared to the highest level the teacher achieved, and geared to the ability of the slowest student.  All others must pay for better teachers, better facilities, and a better facility with smaller classroom size.

3.  Money must be spent to improve the infrastructure.

4.  Clean water must be available to all people at all times.

5.  Electricity must be available to all people at all times.

6.  Addresses must be assigned to every business and residence.

7.  The post office must be made efficient.  Mail is tracked to Zambia quickly but then it takes months for it to be delivered.  Businesses and especially small businesses cannot run without mail delivery.

8.  Internet must be counted on to always be available for a small business to compete.

9.  Road work must be prioritised outward from the city centre and not be the result of a member of parliament living on a certain street.  Lusaka must have at least two graders constantly working to make streets drivable until costly paving reaches those areas.

10. Tourism must be ramped up.  Zambia has beautiful natural resources.  There is much more to see in Zambia than just Victoria Falls.  It is spread out and difficult to get to, but there are people in this world who want to experience the beauty, the exotic, and the wild.  Zambia is such a secure and peaceful place for tourism and the world doesn't know this.  Zambia can emphasize its remoteness and uniqueness.  It will never compete with the same ease of a visit to Kruger Park in South Africa ,but Zambia will have its champions and tourism can contribute more to the economy.

One emphasis is that Zambia has hundreds and hundreds of birds.  Tell the birders of the world and make it easy for them to spend their money to see birds along with the developing national parks.  Fix up the access to the many bird refuges.  Continue to restock the many wonderful parks in Zambia.

So that is what needs to happen and I am certain many others can see it also.

Zambia is short on exploitable natural resources.  Copper is essential but much of the benefits to Zambia don't stay here.  That will not change much.

The bottom line is the Zambia government needs more money.
Zambia gets money from copper - that will not increase.
Zambia gets money from taxes - that will only grow as the economy grows.
Zambia gets money from tourism - that can grow but it will be slow without effort.
Zambia gets money from donations - that is a problem.  Yes, Zambia needs the gifts to improve water delivery and roads and fight HIV and dams for electricity.  However, once a gift is given there isn't much left for maintenance of those secured prizes.

The government leaders of Zambia must find the leaks of cash, the skimming of contracts, and investigate the new prosperity of new Zambian government workers.  I believe there is more money currently available for all Zambians but it is NOT reaching the areas of greatest need to the majority of Zambians.

It will not be easy, but once they understand the concept of "public servant" and not, "now I can get mine", there can be more cash to change the direction toward a joint prosperity.

It will take true leadership and love for all the Zambian people.
It will take sacrifice by its leaders to slowly turn the direction of the economy towards more prosperity.

Zambia, do not look for handouts, quick fixes, large donations that can provide some benefit to you personally.  Take the higher road and cut as many strings as you can and move this great county to a thriving economy that benefits every Zambian.  When that happens you will have matured from that child nation that still needs nurturing, to the adolescent that you now seem to be (wanting and taking whatever the world will give you),  to adulthood that supports itself and cares about the quality of life of all her citizens.  An adult nation determines its own course.  It is self sufficient.  It is respected by other nations that also are adults and also those who seriously want to shed their adolescent, greedy behaviour.

Zambia, I have grown to love you.  I love your beauty and wildness and people.  I love you with all your flaws but mostly because of your sweet spirit of peace and beauty, and your great reverence for the Creator of us all.

Change has to start at the top in government.
Whoever holds that position must truly lead, and that will require personal sacrifice by true leaders..