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The pursuit of economic independence

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As a nation, we stand tall and proud that we have clocked over half a century of self-rule. The heroes and heroines of this country are venerated as their will to secure a free country materialised either in their life time or long after their demise.

It is obvious that their struggle for the independence of the country was not only meant to end at wrestling power from colonialists but to empower the natives of the country to own what belongs to them, to rejoice in the fruits of their resources and spearhead an economic revolution in a great fight against poverty and underdevelopment. Within the political independence is enriched our desire for better jobs, better pays and working conditions, more schools and health clinics, affordable modern amenities and, above all, a better future for our children

We can, however, not be an independent people without economic independence, so it is said. The American Revolution was not born merely to gain political independence from England but so too economic independence.

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We are politically independent, yes, but we are yet to realise our dream of economic emancipation. More than ever before, the nation is challenged to strategise and implement policies that will spearhead an economic revolution capable of bailing out millions of our citizens from the trap of excruciating poverty. The political trend of the country should shift from one riddled with antagonism and the pull-down syndrome of developmental initiatives to the one that endeavours to reclaim a free-from-poverty independent state.

Our will for economic independence is meant to safeguard the inalienable fundamental human rights of our people. We are reminded by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health, and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.

It is worth noting that the exacerbation of poverty erodes the dignity of the poor and further threatens the stability of political independence. Politics, political systems, democracy are all meaningless when the basic needs of a population are not satisfied. Apparently, the basic need of the people of the country is economic revolution that can lead to economic empowerment necessitating them to redeem their lives from the meshes of poverty. Political independence that lacks the support of economic independence is of no relevance to a family man who hardly has enough to feed his family; it means nothing to a woman who risks to see his children dying of preventable diarrhoea arising as a result of unavailability of essential health services.

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In an article entitled ‘The intervention of political and economic independence’, Hsu Nai-Chiung says that without secure and full political independence, genuine independence is impossible; without genuine economic independence, secure and full political independence cannot last. Political independence is the precedent for economic independence, while economic independence is the basis for political independence.

The journey to economic emancipation must start from infrastructure investment and development. It is an irrefutable fact that infrastructure development forms the backbone to Africa’s economic independence. Infrastructure plays a vital role in sustainable development, foreign direct investment flow, GDP growth, inflation reduction, job creation, trade, service delivery and the cost of doing business.

This is the time that we have to embark on addressing our deficiencies in infrastructure development. Now is the time to connect Chitipa to Nsanje through rail line, to revive the Shire-Zambezi waterway, to make the greenbelt initiative a reality and game changer in agriculture, to pave roads so as to make transportation of produce much easier and faster.

Lord Aikins Adusei states that most rural communities in Africa become inaccessible during rainy seasons and harvested crops are wasted due to lack of transport. It is estimated that close to 40 percent of food produced in rural areas in Africa — countries that gained political independence — rots due to lack of roads and bridges. The absence of electricity, water, sanitation, irrigation facilities and silos limit the ability of the people to create wealth and do away with poverty.

Let the nation sort out its roads infrastructure so that banana farmers in Molere no longer mourn over rotting bananas as they will be beneficiaries of the Thyolo- Makwasa road; maize traders in Phalombe should benefit from the Chitakale-Phalombe-Jali road among many other vital roads.

Now is the time that the greenbelt initiative takes its course. We need to enhance agricultural infrastructure. For a country blessed with perennial rivers, why should our agriculture depend on rains alone? The first step to economic independence is the adequate availability of food at the household level. The greenbelt initiative coupled with the input fertilizer subsidy program form the basis on which we can build the foundations for economic independence. We can no longer be an independent nation if we fail to satisfy our consumption needs in a country with vast masses of fertile land and the political will to attain food security.

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