Zambia is the third hungriest country in the world – due to failed leadership and capitalist systemThe World Hunger Index for 2015 that ranked Zambia as the third hungriest country in the world, below Chad and the Central African Republic, confirms our stance that the Zambian version of capitalism has been a total failure.

This picture will not change as long as the Zambian state remains under the control of a petty bourgeois elite that adores self-enrichment, corruption, individualism, greed, violence and manipulation of the masses for its own selfish ends. This political elite is actually the major cause of the hunger experienced by the millions of Zambians. It cannot therefore be seen as facilitative to any solutions towards the eradication of hunger in our homeland.

The technical dimension for eradicating hunger is quite straightforward. It involves, amongst others, a food sovereignty policy and legislative framework, a paradigm shift from maize to encompass other traditional food crops, supportive research, extension services, improved farm-level skills, post-harvest logistics, marketing arrangements, the entire value chain, financing options and a robust regional export platform. We have enough technocrats today, than at any other time in our 51 year post-independence history, to help the country work through these areas. Where there are gaps, we still have the ability to hire the requisite skills globally. Within a 10-year timeframe, significant achievements could be made in both the supply and demand for basic foodstuffs and our people would have access to adequate, nutritious food.

But technical solutions do not operate in a vacuum. They have to be embedded in a political-economic environment that emphasises equity, honesty, humility and solidarity. This is the realm of political, social and cultural leadership. And it is the dimension where we are miserably failing as a country. The political leadership has assumed hegemony, since it controls state power and resources. Yet under the neo-liberal capitalist system in Zambia, the political leadership is the worst placed to address hunger. It is the very class that is bankrupting and polarising our homeland and therefore contributing to the chronic hunger afflicting the masses.  It is a class that survives and perpetuates itself by keeping the masses hungry. That is why every five years, a ritual called elections are organised where people are feted, entertained and their votes are literarily bought to perpetuate further exploitation.

Hunger is demeaning and dehumanising. Those of us who experienced some levels of hunger in our lives know how traumatising and debilitating it can be. It is hard to imagine the pain and misery of hunger if you have never really experienced it. Being the third hungriest country in the world is a human and moral tragedy. Yet our political elites are busy jostling for power, busy spending millions of Kwacha on an electoral process meant to perpetuate neo-liberal capitalism and hunger in our homeland. It is a dead-end for our people.

Only a socialist government that is effectively controlled by the workers, peasants and poor Zambians can provide the appropriate environment for ending chronic hunger in Zambia. Neo-liberal capitalism has failed us.