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Let’s fix our values, attitudes

AT THE centre of all debates during this feverish campaign period is the state of the national economy and the direction of the national development agenda. For those in the opposition, the economy is not doing well and they have someone who can fix it. For those in the ruling party the argument is that the process of fixing the economy is already taking place with massive and unprecedented investment in infrastructure development around the country to point at as evidence. Sonta!
The difference in opinion and agenda between the ruling party, PF, and the Government and the main opposition party UPND on the state of the economy and national development agenda was made even more poignant when the Government increased the floor price for maize in order to reward the farmers, who are the producers. The opposition UPND through their vice-president and owner of milling companies quickly came in and said the right direction is to reduce the floor price of maize in order to bring down the price of mealie meal and reward the consumers with low prices of mealie meal.
With such differences in opinion on the state of the economy and national development agenda between the Government of the day and the opposition, some cadres with little ability to debate are picking up pangas and axes to end the argument. It would be an understatement to say that the differences between the PF and the UPND on the state of the economy and national development agenda are as far apart as the North from the South Pole.
Where are the independent university scholars and think tanks experts to help narrow the difference in opinion on the state of the economy and national development agenda between the two sides? Surely there must be some independent university scholars as is the case in developed countries to moderate these differences. Or has everyone taken a position in this debate including the civil society and Church. This situation leaves cadres to be moderators through violence.
The entrenched differences between the PF and the UPND on the state of the economy and national development agenda is also manifested in the PF party manifesto and UPND’s 10-point plan. On a private radio station recently, UPND vice-president and presidential running mate talked about stopping the building of roads, clinics, schools and other infrastructure, no more new districts, reducing the number of ministers, and concentrating on fixing the economy and attracting investors.
Unfortunately, nothing is being mentioned on how to fix the Zambian people’s values and attitudes. Any politician who thinks they can come in and fix the Zambian economy and other developmental problems our country is facing today without indicating clearly how they will fix the people’s values and attitudes is asking Zambians to take a ride on a dead horse.
The economic and social problems our country is facing today are not as a result of those in Government or political leadership as portrayed by some people but because of the values and attitudes that we Zambians have developed since independence. Values and attitudes are principles, standards or qualities that an individual or group of people or nation hold in high regard. These values guide the way we live our lives and the decisions we make. In Zambia, these are the values and attitudes that we need to fix.
Social and economic development scholars now agree that values and attitudes are the foundation and the building blocks for social and economic development in any country. The major difference between countries with the most advanced economies in the world such as the United States of America, Germany, Japan and China and the impoverished countries in sub- Saharan Africa is the choice of values and attitudes of the people. Americans value achievement and hard work, Germans also value meticulous planning and hard work, the Chinese value harmony and hard work and the Japanese value social order and hard work.
Time has come for us Zambians to put our heads together to confront and change the values and attitudes that we have developed since independence which are the main cause of our current economic problems and now current political violence. The corrupt values and attitudes we the Zambian people have adopted are by far much older than the Patriotic Front (PF) and the current national leadership. The current social and economic problems our country faces will continue even beyond the August 11, 2016 general elections regardless of who wins the elections until we confront and fix our values and attitudes.
The corrupt values and attitudes in the Zambian people which are a source of all our social and economic problems are our poor work culture, laziness, greed, incompetence, insatiable desire to accumulate wealth by any means, desire for hand-outs and free services, love for foreign goods and services, hatred for accountability, merit and responsibility, hypocrisy and tribalism.
These are the values and attitudes that are now inherent and widespread in the Zambian society and the main cause of the social and economic problems in our country. What is now required of us as Zambians is to agree on how to fix these abhorrent values and attitudes in the Zambian society, otherwise we shall continue changing governments until we destroy our country.
The author is a PhD student in Management and Development Studies.