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Fiscal Cliff

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31 December 2012

In the USA the major political news is the “Fiscal Cliff”- how the government will adjust taxes and spending to moderate the economy.  Lawmakers from both political parties are meeting to come up with enough tax increases and spending cuts for the 2013 budget. The Democrats are primarily focused on the revenue side of the equation (tax increases), especially from the nation’s wealthy, as a pre-requisite for any deal. Republicans favour spending cuts, especially to entitlement programs. While both sides subscribe to different philosophies concerning taxation, each have indicated that they are willing to compromise on critical issues leading to the January 1st deadline.

In Zambia, the major political news is about politicians moving from one political party to another. With the price of our major staple food (Mealie Meal) reaching above what the poor can afford, one would think our lawmakers from the three parties would be in meetings to discuss how best to address the unprecedented increases of this “Mealie Meal Cliff”.

The difference between Zambian and USA lawmakers is not that Zambian lawmakers spend their time strategizing how to stay in power or how to bring the other party down.  Indeed, U.S. lawmakers spent over 2 billion dollars in the last election to hold onto power or unseat incumbents. The difference is the political parties in the U.S. and their supporters subscribe to different philosophies of governance and hold different values. Our political parties have no distinguishable values and many who vote for them are destitute with little or no developed philosophy of governance.

One Biblical definition of destitute is people who are oppressed by the rich and the powerful. This can be at the hands of foreign armies or governments, like is the case in Lamentations 5 or Nehemiah 5 where the local rich and the powerful exploit those who are weak. In our case the destitute is villagers who forfeit land to foreign investors, fatherless children, or the widows or farmers who have had bad crops due to a disaster and cannot feed their families. The destitute are the youths who complete high school or have a college degree but cannot find jobs as well as those who did not get to grade eight. These people are denied true justice by our politicians and the media when their concerns are not on the agendas of the lawmakers or the news media.

To deny the poor a fair price on our staple food, education, employment, land and health services is unjust, and God is against that. Christians should be in the forefront of advocacy against these injustices. Christians should be in the forefront of helping the poor to chart their course and be responsible for their own future. Maybe in future they will be able to vote for leaders with beliefs and character that agree with them we may see real spiritual and physical development. May God bless Zambia with political leaders with godly values, character and commitment to bring spiritual and physical transformation. As we begin the New Year may you be the churches that help bring that transformation.

By Rev Lawrence Temfwe, Director of Jubilee Centre, Zambia. Extract from Monday Issue 31st December 2012