This is what God requires of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Below is a table that you might like to look at. It’s some recent comparative ‘Take-home pay’ from the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection. The Zambian Kwacha (K) is approx 8,000 to the GBP and K 5,500 to US Dollar.
TEACHER: Max K1,485,000
NURSE RG: Max K 2,624,000
RURAL PIECE WORKER: Max K 15,000 per day
SECURITY GUARD: Max K 750,000
SECRETARY (CIVIL SERVICE): Max K 1,480,000
AVERAGE MONTHLY INCOME: K 645,326
The Centre also monitors a monthly basic needs basket for a family of six in Lusaka comprising of food items and other essential non-food items. A total of K 1,914,450 was required to meet these costs (around GBP 250).
In April the tax threshold goes up to K 700,000 (GBP100) before you pay 25% basic level tax, which is good as that will help most of our lower paid workers.
For those of us enjoying fairly secure and affluent life-styles it is not always easy to understand the degree of poverty and deprivation endured by the overwhelming majority of the Zambian population. We are saturated by statistics and inured to the impact of once-shocking photographs portraying various aspects of the bare existence of suffering people.
Despite so-called ‘donor fatigue’ ( 2 Thess.3:13 should put an end to that anyway!) the Church needs to be concerned continually with social justice and morality, the relief of hunger, economic development and the equitable use and distribution of the resources of this earth entrusted to humankind by God. The Church here to highlight and deal with the sinfulness of the greed and self-interest of a few at the expense of the many.
Accusations of playing politics are often levelled when you speak about such things but these matters are part of Ida’s and my personal experience of living here. The arguments we hear from Europe and the US about the credit crunch, that ‘we have troubles of our own’ does not relieve us of the responsibilities to other brothers and sisters whose human rights and dignity are being denied.
So it was good to learn in the the Church of Scotland’s World Mission magazine of the response to Fairtrade Fortnight. The activities and events taking place are a beginning to rectify the situation where the unjust world trading systems still work for the benefit of the rich and powerful.