Peace amidst poverty, injustices

CHIPATA Diocese judicial vicar Fr Evans Miti says Zambia is not at peace from poverty and justice.

“To a large extent, we are united, we are peaceful. Of course we are talking about the physical peace, the peace that comes with not having wars in the country. Politically, we are a sovereign nation. First and foremost, let’s be very positive with the independence celebration. We are celebrating the unity of Zambia, a united nation with so many tribes yet living in peace. Zambians are governing themselves and transferring power from one political party to the other in a peaceful atmosphere…that is the peace that we are celebrating. However, much as we can say about the peace, the unity, the development, we are yet to see some of these aspects in this country. Peaceful we are but we are not peaceful in terms of poverty and justice in this nation,” notes Fr Miti. “There is a lot of poverty in this nation. Many people are wallowing in poverty and that’s not peace at all! When we talk about peace, we are not talking about the absence of war. Peace means the presence of development. Do we have development? Maybe yes, maybe no! We are yet to see. As we thank God and pray today [Sunday] for the 57 years of Zambia being a politically peaceful atmosphere ruling ourselves, let’s pray to God to give us peace from the poverty that we are facing in Zambia. Many people are suffering and only a few people are enjoying the cake of this country and yet we are saying we are at peace. For me, it just pains me to see even during this National Day of Prayer, we go and burn ourselves in the sun there when the political leaders are getting allowances out of that programme and we are saying ‘let us pray for peace and reconciliation, forgiveness,’ seeking God’s grace and whatever. Hypocrites, if you do that, God is going to punish you. Zambians are tired of pronouncements of development…”

We agree.

Peace in the midst of poverty and other injustices is a mirage – it is not sustainable. Political independence without economic development – without an ambitious approach to address the plight of ordinary Zambians particularly in areas of education, health care, supply of clean affordable water, housing, access to nutrition, among other basic essentials that guarantee human dignity – will remain dangerously shaky. Perilous indeed.

Whatever we do as a country, the first emphasis must be lifting our people from the socio-economic doldrums. Independence is not for the elite alone. Fruits of our independence must apply to all without any shade of exclusion. Indeed, peace is not just the absence of war. Peace means the presence of development – it is about justice and equity. An unequal society is a time bomb – it can never be safe for anyone.

As Herbert Hoover once warned, “Of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the one named War has gone – at least for a while. But Famine, Pestilence and Death are still charging over the earth. Hunger is a silent visitor who comes like a shadow. He sits besides every anxious mother three times each day. He brings not alone suffering and sorrow, but fear and terror. He carries disorder and the paralysis of government, and even its downfall. He is more destructive than armies, not only in human life but in morals. All of the values of right living melt before his invasions, and every gain of civilisation crumbles.”

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