The people of Itezhi-tezhi have been marginalised by successive governments since 1991 and consistently betrayed by its own elected leaders. This has given rise to a mixture of anger, scepticism and outright mistrust of both political actors and processes.
However, the so-called established political parties are apparently oblivious to the uphill battles they face in Itezhi-tezhi and are still going around the district parroting their discredited and never fulfilled promises. It is both a macabre and comical situation – one that speaks volumes about the seriousness and soundness of the Zambian political landscape!
More than 30 years ago, one drove on a good tarred road from the junction of the Lusaka-Mongu road into Itezhi-tezhi; but this road was allowed to degenerate to an extent where no meter of bitumen remained and the entire road has to be rebuilt now! Instead of moving forward, a reverse process was therefore set in motion. As one reaches town, it becomes apparent that the once well-planned and clean little town of the 1970s sand 1980s has now turned into an unplanned settlement without rational planning and administration.
If we look at agriculture, livestock farmers have seen their cattle population decimated by diseases and lack of adequate disease control and treatment services – with their government and elected officials not accepting direct responsibility for the mess! Current efforts to resuscitate the cattle industry by the government are welcome, but remain unsystematic, fragmented and half-hearted. The long awaited miracle solution of the cattle industry from “private sector participation” is nowhere to be seen and will forever remain illusive.
Even the development of the Kafue National Park that was herald as the key factor in providing employment and helping to create wealth has equally lost steam in giving hope to the poor, marginalised population of Itezhi-tezhi.
The state of the public schools, health facilities and agricultural support facilities in Itezhi-tezhi can best be described as shameful. Yet these are the most critical institutions in any meaningful attempt to eradicate poverty in the district.
What then can our government point to as having improved in the livelihoods of the masses in Itezhi-tezhi? How can our national leaders afford to enjoy the luxury of their posh, air-conditioned offices; drive in their expensive cars; toast with champagne in the never-ending hotel parties; and even sleep comfortably in their beds given the dire situation in a place like Itezhi-tezhi?
Well, this moral dilemma can only be explained from within the values of the neo-liberal capitalist economic system – where greed, individualism and class arrogance override all equity considerations. Intoxicated with this capitalist ideology, Zambian political leaders show neither empathy nor solidarity with the marginalised people of Itezhi-tezhi. In their political moral compass, the abject poverty and suffering of the masses is viewed as a natural occurrence, one that should not irritate their conscience!