Poverty eradication key in spurring economic growth

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ON SATURDAY, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in marking International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is commemorated annually on October 17.

For Zimbabwe, the day becomes doubly important because the burden of poverty eradication is more than urgent given that the cash-strapped country is battling to get the economy back on track.

While poverty eradication itself is a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), the leadership has to ensure policies in place will not compromise the achievement of other key SDGs, among them zero hunger, good health and well-being as well as reduced inequalities.

For countries like Zimbabwe, with a vast resource base, the failure to ensure equitable distribution of resources, greed and corruption remain the main reasons why the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen.

As a result, key areas where the government should invest heavily like health, education and other infrastructural development programmes suffer as the country’s wealth goes into private pockets at the expense of national coffers.

Owing to continued dry spells in the country, food security has been difficult to achieve, exposing children to malnutrition and the general population to poor health. What is worrying is that Zimbabwe is resource-rich, with vast mineral deposits as well as fertile soils.

At some point, Zimbabweans thought the diamonds find at Chiadzwa in Manicaland Province would be the panacea to the country’s poverty, but revenue from the gems did not find its way to Treasury, with the late former president Robert Mugabe claiming that US$15 billion diamonds revenue could not be accounted for.

The tragedy with our situation is that the leadership over the years has been insensitive to the plight of the ordinary folks while lining their pockets with proceeds from mainly resource plunder and outright thievery.

Ending poverty and similar material deprivation necessarily implies improved access to health and education for the population as well as ensuring reduced inequality. Where resources are shared equitably, reduced conflicts manifest while women and girls in society are empowered, leading to peaceful inclusive societies with the capacity to protect the planet and its natural resources.

With these in place the potential to spur broader economic growth becomes inevitable. Therefore, eradicating poverty — which should not end up as verbal addresses — might seemingly be insurmountable, but it is in fact achievable once citizens start realising we are all human and deserve better.

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