AFRICA/ZAMBIA - Rising crime rate, bad management of resources, AIDS. Association of Catholic Women Religious in Zambia voice concern

Friday, 13 February 2004

Lusaka (Fides Service) - “As most of the sisters in Zambia work with the disadvantaged sector of the population, we would like once again to voice our concern on the behalf of these people”. In a press statement issued 3 February in Lusaka the Zambia Association of Sisterhoods voiced deep concern about the social and economic situation, and the apparent lack of political vision for this country. “We had hoped that with the advent of the “New Deal Government” the well being of the people would become a real priority. However, from our experience we are aware that the situation has deteriorated drastically for over 80% of the population” the Religious affirm. Concern over the situation has also been expressed recently by the Catholic Bishops of Zambia.
Among the most concerning situations the nuns indicate “The sad degeneration of democracy in Zambia, due to the switching of MPs from one party to another, giving rise to numerous by-elections, and to a de facto reversion to a one-party state. Is the ideal of a multi-party democracy really an essential value in our political system?”
Another tragic problem in Zambia is the state of security, the breakdown of law and order, “ the rising number of armed robberies, assaults and thefts in our compounds and religious houses. If people cannot feel secure in their own country, something is seriously wrong” the Religious say.
With regard to the economy the statement says “ We are told that our economy is improving. But our dependency on foreign funding and investors seems to generate very little capital investment, and therefore fails to create adequate job opportunities. Less than 13% of our labour force is in formal employment”. “ In spite of the difficult economic situation, our government is not using our limited resources prudently, e.g. unnecessary by-elections, excess travel expenses, too big a size of government with unnecessary deputy ministers, frequent buying of government vehicles, etc...”.
Difficult economic conditions mean a deterioration in social services. The Religious speak of an “appalling deterioration of quality education in our country which is deeply worrying, as the future of our children is at stake.” The Zambia Association of Sisterhoods laments “serious shortage of teachers and over-crowding of classes, especially in the rural areas. It is a serious and worrying situation, especially considering the already poor conditions of service of the present teachers.”.
Last but not least the Sisters denounce the tragedy of AIDS “which is having devastating effects on the country”… and represents “a major challenge both to public health and to our socio-economic development”.
See statement in English:
( (L.M.) )(Agenzia Fides 13/2/2004, righe 38 parole 408)