HH’s China visit worthwhile
Published On September 13, 2023 » 2798 Views» By Times Reporter » Business, Columns
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WHILE pondering on what to focus on this week, I was inundated with so many possible ideas which could have made the day.
This is because there has been a lot of economic developments this past week, leaving any columnists who tackles current affairs-related topics spoilt for choice.
This is the week in which the Government announced the agreement on the future of Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) and given the importance of mining to Zambia a topic or two could be strung from there.
Similarly, there were many other economic issues from the ministries and other areas which sprung up!
Then there was President Hakainde Hichilema’s official opening of the Third Session of the 13th National Assembly last Friday, which brought out countless economic issues which could have, equally, featured on this forum.
Before I could digest all and pick one, there was an announcement that President Hichilema was visiting China on an invitation by his counterpart, President Xi Jinping.
One of the biggest lessons any citizen of a developing country like Zambia can draw from China is how the government managed to lift its people above the poverty datum line.
Therefore, a visit by President Hichilema to that country, two years after it managed this feat is indeed worthwhile, especially given his efforts and determination to fight poverty.
As I have stated before, the biggest thrill I got while visiting China in 2019 was on the report on the progress the Government had made to eradicate absolute poverty among its citizens.
The subject of poverty eradication or reduction among citizens is always a critical one and melts my heart, for obvious reason.
As I indicated then, using the governance system popularly referred to by leaders and nationals as, ‘democratic dictatorship’ China rescued its citizens from poverty and its offshoots.
The humongous and now second most populous country on earth transformed itself from a developing country, into an economic power engine.
With a national income per capita of $250 less than five decades ago, China had by 2019 grown the figure to about $10,000 but its leaders still modestly considered it as a developing country.
Having visited both the ultramodern cities like Beijing and the least developed ones like Guilin in Guangxi Province, I noted that the fight against poverty in that country has been real and hence worth emulating.
As indicated previously, by the end of 2020, the government targeted to eliminate extreme poverty among its remaining 16 million citizens.
According to the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China, between 1981 and 2015, global extreme poverty reduced by one billion people and roughly 74 per cent of those who benefited were in China.
In 1981, about 46 per cent of the world poor people lived in China but that figure declined to 1.4 per cent in 2015.
The Government had embarked on elimination of absolute poverty by accurately targeting poverty alleviation among its poor people.
That meant that instead of aiming at tackling poverty among the general populace, the target was on the poorest of the poor.
By 2020, the targeted poor had food security and clothing, compulsory education as well as basic health and housing facilities.
The Government ensured that the farmers’ income growth rate in poor-stricken areas is higher than the national average while the basic public services to these areas were close to the national average.
That was done by addressing six accurately targeted poverty alleviation aspects.
The first one was the correct identification of the poor households, followed by the putting in place of anti-poverty measures and then assignment of the work to the carefully-constituted teams.
Then the government came up with specific project arrangements, provided the funds and put in place poverty exit mechanisms at the end of it.
To accurately identify the poor, the government came up with the poverty registry system which was updated annually and showed that in 2014 there were 128,000 villages in the rural areas.
The rural areas comprised 290,000 households with about 90 million individual poor people.
According to other Chinese documents, it was discovered that in terms of causes of poverty at household level, the leading one was diseases at 38.5 per cent followed by lack of funds at 34.8 per cent.
Other factors were lack of technology, unemployment, lack of education, inadequate land availability, disasters, disability, transportation and lack of water in that order.
The International Poverty Reduction Centre indicates that to support the fight against poverty in these rural areas, the government sent out 128,000 village work teams with 540,000 officials.
On average, about three officials from towns would stay in a village for two-three years helping the villagers to find specific ways to fight poverty in their respective areas.
There were also 188,000 village first secretaries who were grassroots officials of the ruling Community Party of China.
Their job was to analyse households’ demand, make development plans and coordinate assistance resources.
In fact, I was told effective performance in such chores at grassroots is one of the criteria for promotion to the next organs of the party and that most of the top CPC leaders, including President Xi had at one time participated in the schemes.
At the age of 16, Mr Xi had reportedly volunteered to live and work in a small village as an “educated youth,” undertaking all sorts of manual works like carrying manure and hauling a coal cart.
According to Chinese media, through continuous efforts, the final 98.99 million impoverished rural residents had all been lifted out of poverty, and all 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages had been removed from the poverty list by the end of 2020.
Despite not pursuing same political ideology, Zambia can pick a lesson or two from the way China has addressed the issues of poverty among its people.
This is especially so when it comes to the pegging of one’s political progression to one’s contribution towards poverty alleviation of one’s people at lower level.
For comments: 0977 246099, 0955 431442 or e-mail: jmuyanwa@gmail.com

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