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Independent Dependency: Zambia@51

I looked forward to picking up that paper flag and waving it each time it was October 24th, Independence day was  bigger than any other day on my childhood calendar. That was in my primary school years, a lot has changed since, more so, my understanding of the word "Independence". 

Self governance, sovereignty etc.. are the words that pop up every time an attempt at defining the word independence is made.What we celebrate,for lack of a more precise definition, is "Political Independence". The question must however be asked whether political independence is sufficient to adequately thrive in this globalized economy.

It is said that the reason babies and toddlers always require minders is because they have too much independence, with no filters regards their adventurous spirits. They would jump into an open fire if that is what looked interesting at the time, the minders must step in to prevent such reckless exercise of independence and through this Pavlovian conditioning, babies and toddlers develop filters in their exercise of independence to an acceptable level of safety.

Photo Source : Top Zed Brands Facebook page

In 1964, Zambia was that baby,100% independent and very few filters if any, in its exercise of that independence.Our Strategic National Development Plans and Constitution with their respective structures, etc acted as our minders. Somewhere along the way,the minders paid too much attention to the form and not substance hence forgot the lessons and rationale behind those structures.Zambia at 51 is no more conditioned in its exercise of its independence than it was in 1964. A bold statement i admit, however,the evidence point to this fact.

At the time of independence,Zambia was a very rich young country with a currency stronger than both the United States Dollar and the British Pound,with significant foreign reserves and a very promising future ahead of it.However,our poor handling of the hyperinflation of the 1970s wiped off just about all of Zambia's reserves leaving it a very poor country.

One would have thought we learnt something from that,however,our economy remains not only Copper,but also Hydro Power dependent,both currently not doing too well.Why haven't we learnt and diversified from this? In an almost predictable 3 years cycle,Zambia suffers a drought of some sort that always leaves the country exposed to hunger,however,our rain dependent agricultural practices have never changed to take into account this natural rain phenomenon.I ask why?

The recent economic revival that saw Zambia transformed into a middle income country is slowly and steadily being eroded by external shocks i.e, drop in global copper prices,poor Hydro Power generation resulting from drought.One would however again argue that these are no longer external shocks as we have had a lot of time, Fifty one(51) years to be exact, to devise strategic responses to these now predictable challenges i.e diversifying from Copper, Hydro Power and rain-fed farming dependency.This is and has always been within our reach yet we always find ourselves majoring on politicking.

Our lack of strategic responses to these predictable shocks leaves us at the mercy of major copper conglomerates, copper prices, donors of food, and even natural phenomena like droughts. As we celebrate this independence, let's spare a thought for these many aspects of our reality that we need to correct if we are to safely access that little extra non-political independence which is an attribute of middle-income status.

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