CARITAS Zambia executive director Eugene Kabilika says that government’s failure to reduce inequalities in the country is leading the poor to rise up against the rich, making society unsustainable.

And Kabilika says there is need for small-scale farmers to stop being perpetually dependent on fertilizer, which has enslaved them.

In an interview in Lusaka, Kabilika cautioned that the country’s poor and marginalized sections of society were rising up against the rich on account of government’s persistent failure to narrow economic inequalities.

Civil unrest has gripped parts of the Copperbelt and Southern provinces in the last few months, partly fuelled by suspected ritual killings and rising poverty levels.

“For us in CARITAS, to reduce this inequality that is growing, we need specific targeted policies around the economy that promote small businesses to grow, that promote small-scale farmers to also grow without necessarily affecting those that are already doing okay. There was the story of Robin Hood, the robber, he was stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But I am not encouraging stealing; I am saying some kind of the rich supporting the small-scale guys to be able to rise up. That way, you are going be able to slowly reduce the inequalities that we see now, otherwise, if we don’t do that, those that are already poor will be relegated to nothing and what do you get? Superstitions, riots, the poor begins to rise against those who are rich and you cannot sustain society like that, it is unsustainable,” Kabilika said.

“The other issue responding to that is the economic systems that we use. The economic systems that we use must be in such a way deliberate to help small-scale business entrepreneurs so that they can be able to run their businesses. Now, if your policies are such that it destroys the small-scale businesses, now, when I talk small scale businesses, I am also including small-scale farmers, those that are welding at the markets. So, if your policies destroy that because your tariffs on Zesco are going up. Small-scale farmers are supposed to access farming inputs through programmes that you put like FISP (Farmer Input Support Programme) and all others and are not able to, and then you control the price of the products that they produce, it does not help them to break-even so you’ll still keep this inequality. Those big commercial farmers are able to do what they can because they have all the money, but the small guys are kept like that. So, you are moving this inequality, it doesn’t finish, it just goes up.”

And Kabilika said there was need for small-scale farmers to stop perpetually depending on fertilizer, which had enslaved them over the years.

“We are dreaming of a time when small-scale farmers will move away from fertilizer because fertilizer has enslaved them that they can’t grow anything. But now, there are technologies, people call it climate smart, we prefer to call it climate responsive, we are talking about, and you know, we speak like climate change is the problem, the problem is we ourselves human beings, we are the ones who have changed the climate so to solve it is to change the way we have been behaving towards the environment,” said Kabilika.