Reggae star and human rights activist Maiko Zulu says a group of activists will this week travel to Shang’ombo District of Western Province to understand people’s challenges in the area and present findings to world leaders scheduled to meet at the global week of action in Switzerland.

In an interview with News Diggers! Zulu bemoaned Shang’ombo District’s high poverty levels owing to successive governments’ neglect of the area.

He explained that the activists want to go to Shang’ombo and get first-hand information from people in the area as to clearly understand their plight, noting that high poverty levels would only cease if Zambians voted for the right leaders.

“Shang’ombo is one of Zambia’s poorest and most neglected districts. So, what is happening is that, there is the global week of action, which sees leaders meet in Switzerland and discuss issues to do with underdeveloped countries like Zambia and decisions are made at that level. So, what we are trying to do is that we are trying to highlight the actual suffering of the people, not what our leaders go and tell them there. Because most of the times our leaders go there, canvas for funding, they go and give reports about their countries and yet when they get this funding, very little goes to the actual people in need of help! It is disheartening to see that a part of Zambia (Shang’ombo) can be in that state, and you wonder where the equality is in this country. How can you give the same funding to a constituency like Kabwata and Shang’ombo? So, we want to bring the peoples’ suffering from the peoples’ perspective themselves, not from government or from an organisation,” Zulu explained.

He said the tour was also aimed at fighting the inequality that government had been practicing against the people of Shang’ombo District, adding that during the same tour, the activists would conduct civic education to the people on many social issues, such as voting for the right leaders.

“I don’t know how many of our MPs have been to Shang’ombo, when they talk about Shang’ombo, they liken it to all sorts of poverty that you can think of, but they have never been there themselves! This is the rainy season and access to Shang’ombo is very difficult and no one is caring! And this is what different stakeholders who have come together under the umbrella of what we are calling: ‘Fight Inequality Alliance,’ which involves organisations like Action Aid, Oxfam, artists, such as myself, Pilato and others, as other organisations and individuals that want to see the end of poverty,” Zulu added.

He advised that people must not vote for politicians in 2021 on account of chitenge, among other materials, given to them.

“We would like those in government to do the right thing because people are going through a lot, already people are overtaxed; they are paying taxes through the nose! I don’t know how people will survive in the next few years because even the cost of doing business is very high, the cost of borrowing from the bank is also very high! That’s why you are seeing the Chinese becoming richer because for them, they have soft loans from their banks, you can’t compete with them when it comes to doing business! We are in 2019, and we are heading towards another election, people need to start asking themselves questions: ‘are we going to vote for T-shirts, are we going to vote for chitenge, is that what our vote is worth?’ So, 2019 is a very crucial year,” said Zulu.