Zambia Council for Social Development executive director Lewis Mwape says only politically exposed individuals are getting rich.
In an interview, Mwape observed that the quickest way to become rich was to join politics.
“Nowadays to change your status from poor to rich, you need to belong to a political party. Those in political parties are getting rich and at very fast rate. That is not supposed to be the case. So, government must look at the faces of people as Zambians and not as political affiliates. That is where we have a challenge, we need not to be political affiliates. Three quarters of the people that put government into power, it’s those that non-partisan,” Mwape said.
“When you look at poverty profiles of the country, you may realize that as a country we are not doing very well in terms of improving the poverty profiles, to bring it down. For example, if you are talking about extreme poverty, we are just dropping by point three percent. From 40.5 to 40.1% which is not significant. So maybe that is a paradox also that we need to look at because the number of poor people in Zambia in terms of population continues to be on the rise. But when we go to count in terms of poverty levels, you will find that percentages are showing at least insignificant reduction. But what we must know is that the number of poor people continues to rise. Therefore, now it tells us to say if we are to invest where do we need to invest? Where are the poor people? Who are the poor people? I think that is where as a country in terms of social development we have a challenge because we need first of all to deal with very many drivers of poverty. We are talking about issues of education, how much infrastructure do we have?”
And Mwape said the poor performance of the e-voucher system had contributed to the increase in poverty levels.
“When you look at the performance of Farmers Input Support Program FISP in the 2017/2018 farming season, you will realize that it performed poorly and has so far contributed to the increase in poverty levels. Some people are still collecting farming inputs as we are speaking. So, our government is not serious with reducing poverty. How do you distribute farming inputs in April? As a country we will perform very badly in terms of crop production. Social protection measures in terms FISP has failed. And you and I know that 60% of Zambians are poor and 65% of these live-in areas where agriculture is predominantly their way of life. When as government you do that, you are bringing more and more poverty. Those that we put in power, in this case, the President, must focus more on reducing poverty because they are key in that areas. But this is a sign that they have failed us. If you are President, it means you are a failed President,” he said.
Meanwhile Mwape urged civil society organizations to be united if they were to offer credible checks and balances.
“We should be talking about polarization of the Civil Society, it is an issue. It is a shrinking space in many aspects of the Civil Society. The Civil society today do not have as much power as it used to be because they are not united and because of poor policies put up by government. We are supposed to influence the decision of the public sector, not even in that area we haven’t done well. When we are talking about taxation, there are certain times when the public sector are the ones who are evading tax. So how do we influence the public sector to live up to its obligations? I think those are the issues that we haven’t conclusively addressed. As CSO’s we need to challenge both the private and public service providers to see that they deliver according to expectations, but we haven’t done so. Reason is that we are not united as we should be,” said Mwape.