To fail is a plan. If you don’t plan anything you are likely to fail. One can say you planned very well to fail in the hope that some external factors will leap frog you into success.
If we are going to argue with some degree of fairness, a thought is that nations that are stuck in poverty may have willingly planned and invested in something else whose results are inequalities and poverty.
Poverty as a concept is associated with inequalities. The concept itself is an inequality of some kind. It distinguishes the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. ‘Haves’ and ‘have nots’ are manifest in different ways.
‘Haves’ can easily buy a bag of fertiliser. ‘Have nots’ need a subsidised bag of fertiliser. A system that helps the ‘have nots’. Haves can afford medical insurance, including a medical evacuation. ‘Have nots’ need to queue at a poorly stocked public hospital. Similarly, ‘haves’ cannot suffer undernutrition while malnutrition is synonymous with ‘have nots’.
‘Have nots’ are often subsistence farmers, lowly educated, unskilled and can barely afford the necessities of life. Their jobs don’t pay much. Most of them, if they have a job, they fall in the K0-K35 000 zero-rated tax bracket as per the recent tax measures Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe announced in the 2018/19 Budget Statement last Friday.
Their drinking water is not clean. They are often victims to infectious diseases and are stuck in the bottom of needs hierarchy. Now this is how you define poverty. It creates that line. The line that divides the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have nots.’
The goal of any development plan is to remove this line. It is to make this line blurred or invisible like how Scandinavian countries have done. It is very difficult to make a distinction between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have nots’ in Oslo or outer parts of Norway. There is no difference in the quality of life between their village” and “city” versions. In addition, there is no difference in their version of ‘Area 10’ and ‘Ntandire’.
Maybe I am being too egalitarian in my comparison with Scandinavian countries that even other more developed countries get jealousy. Some temptation is to consider alternative examples South of the Equator. Singapore and Mauritius. They ring a bell, don’t they?
Whatever comparisons one is tempted to make with our country, the result is the same. There is no difference with all Nordic countries let alone Singapore/Mauritius to Malawi. None of the people from these countries came from Mars or other alien planets. They are human as well. Their blood groups are A, B, AB or O. They eat chicken and fish just like we do. So, how different is the similarity?
The similarity is that all of us have national development plans with the intention of lifting people out of poverty. That’s what all governments do, democratic-irrespective of the style or otherwise. At the start we possibly were at the same foot. The day the world was created through any theory that interests you.
As nations start to make a move, choices do matter. The choices of what they value and give priority. These choices determine who becomes a ‘Have’ and who does not become one. If ‘haves’ outnumber ‘have nots’ the dividing line tends to become blurred. A private school is like a public school.
A public hospital is as good and often better than a private one. Workers become more skilled and jobs pay a decent living wage. Public infrastructure is modernised to reflect the change in quality of life.
Many people move out of subsistence farming and do not need some subsided fertilisers to grow maize on a quarter of hectare land. Is there anyone that have ever become rich getting two 50 kg bags of fertilisers every year to grow some plants of maize of a quarter of hectare? The miracles I want to hear. Maybe solutions lie in bio-technology? One could be fooling themselves to believe in this.
So where has it all gone wrong? Could it be that we have been investing in inequality and poverty? These are industries. They yield poverty and inequality. The price/earnings ratio is very low in stock market language. Basically, the future is not promising.
Statisticians often observe relationships or how correlated things are in life. Just like drinking coffee is closely related to high blood pressure, so are poverty, inequality to corruption.
For sure coffee does not cause blood pressure but rather stress that forces people to drink coffee. We wrongly deal with coffee and even try to tax it when the problem is the stress of not getting a decent job in a nepotistic market.
It is possible that leadership is the variable we have been missing since 1964 to explain the geometric growth of corruption over the years. We are very corrupt. Unfortunately, we have invested in corruption very well, albeit unknowingly. n