Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Zambia a nation of losers?

This week we ask ourselves this critical question: is Zambia a nation of losers? We ask this question because wherever one casts a glance around the country nothing seems to be working. The other day CNN was covering Zambia and it was not pleasant to say the least. It is like Zambia is a country that is full of mud huts and shanty compounds with no beautiful places at all. Yes CNN might have been biased but what can Zambia offer to the world something else that is not fitting this picture? It looks like development continues to elude the Zambian people. Even the much touted economic growth that the country is supposedly experiencing is mainly enjoyed by foreigners who exploit our mineral wealth and externalise the profits to their mother country - with no add-value to the Zambian society. The so-called jobs that are being created by this sector are at the lower end, that is, only unskilled labourers are employed with a few exceptions of Zambians in management positions. The bulk of engineers and technicians are foreign or expatriates. The little infrastructure that is sprouting up here and there, in the form of housing or internationally sub-standard shopping malls, are being overseen by foreigners who are in most cases less qualified and less experienced than most Zambians. To add insult to injury, these so called expatriates do not have an understanding of local issues as they just jet in and dispense their prescription without undertaking a diagnostic analysis. So it is back to square one as we were in 1964 when Zambia was a mere neo-colony and not an independent state.

If we use a proxy of sport, the question above is sharply brought home. Zambia has never won a gold medal at the Olympics, later on the Commonwealth Games. But every time these games take place, Zambia sends a contingent of sports men and women who not only make a good job of embarrassing themselves but the whole country. We have become so used to losing that no one even raises a storm when our athletes return home (early) without wining a medal. The shoddy performance is repeated every time there are these events and no one seems to care. For sure, we had the Simon Matete’s of this world. This patriotic Zambian was the only one who won any significant medal at the Olympic Games – a Silver Medal. But as usual, this son of the soil was never honoured by his country and government. In fact they tried very hard to ignore him at all cost despite winning various races at very prestigious events. Zambia seems to always have misplaced priorities.

However, we in the SDC refuse to accept that we are a nation of losers. When we just examine the number of Zambians all over the world we discover that most of them are playing leading roles at prestigious and reputable institutions. Indeed Zambians are trail blazers. However, most of them are not even recognised in their own country. The Zambian government would rather pay lots of money to be ill advised by some half baked foreign “expert” than seek advice from its competent country men and women who would provide it with high quality inputs. The problem is that there is so much negativity in the country that is manifested in the “Pull Him/Her Down - PHD” syndrome. Whenever there is a shining star in the country, all forces emerge to extinguish it. Whenever talented people try to articulate themselves and excel, they are dragged into the gutter. Then the stage is left for useless, moribund and mediocre people who become the face of Zambia either in beauty pageants, sport, politics, etc. In the end our country continues to be a laughing stock amongst the fraternity of serious and progressive nations, and a nonentity in international affairs. The SDC vows to create a nation of winners where merit will be king. These things are not difficult as they can be done!