Zambians are poorer now than they were at Independence – 47 years ago
By Trevor Grundy
The fact that almost all the polls got the result of Zambia’s recent election wrong is an indication that a huge gap exists between the middle class – who tell the world what they think is going on- and the vast mass of people who are today poorer than they were at Independence 47 years ago. Writing in “The Bulletin,” Zambia’s leading monthly magazine (November issue) news editor Anthony Mukwita says about the September 2011 election which saw Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) elected President of Zambia: “The result demonstrated the huge gap that exists ion Zambia between the haves and the have nots.
What the polls appeared to demonstrate above all else was the huge gap that exists between middle class urban life and its preoccupations with money and the institutions that control it, and the mass of the population. The polls obvious assumed that Zambia’s conditions of near-boom gross domestic product (GDP) growth brought about by the high copper price would swing the election in the favour of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy(MMD)” led by the outgoing President, Rupiah Banda.
“In fact, it seems obvious that those urban people putting the polls together may have been reflecting their own interests and assumptions and they did not bother to consult with the mass of the people, most of whom are so poor and so busy scratching a daily living that they have time for little else.
“As it happens, both the main contenders were agreed on one thing – some 65 percent of Zambians are poorer now that they were at Independence October 24, 1964) 47 years ago.”
The analysis said that outgoing President Rupiah Banda had not listened to any of the pre-election warning bells coming from poor Zambians.
Sata won 43 percent of the vote: Banda 36 percent.
“And it is very likely that the ex- president’s team may have misled him as to the depth of disquiet about poverty and the huge and growing gap between the haves and the have nots.
“In that sense, he appears to have suffered the same fate as that of President Kenneth Kaunda in 1991, surrounded by yes men all giving assurances about victory that were completely unjustified.”
Mukwita said that the election held in October this year was the most expensive in the country’s history. “The MMD fighting to retain power are believed to have spent around K100 billion (US 25 million) on the campaign. The sources of the funding remain elusive, although there are plenty of guesses being made ranging from well-wishers to possibly an inappropriate use of state resources. Certainly, European Union election monitors raised concern that state resources were used to bankroll the ruling party’s campaign.”
He said that by conducting a relatively violence free election and then seeing the appointment of a white man, Guy Scott, as Vice-President, Zambia had scored a “first” which had been little noticed by the rest of the world.
The writer added: ”If they were more thoughtful, for a change, international media agencies might begin to realize that what has happened in Zambia comes close to revolution – not the violent, bloody uprisings, lootings and raping that those media have come to take for granted, but an intelligent and peaceful hand-over of power.”