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  • Writer's pictureRutendo Matinyarare

What is poverty?

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

Many times I fight with people on my social media page when they define Zimbabwe as being a poverty stricken country.

The reason being poverty is defined as a condition where one has no surplus or other means of sustenance other than having to wake up every morning to be labor for industry.

We can also say it’s a state of having no surplus and owning no factors of production such that one is forced to buy their food, clothes, shelter, education and all their basic needs on remuneration earned from laboring for industry or debt.

Thereafter, the person must spend the rest of their life laboring in industry to maintain their standard of living and pay off the debts incurred to provide for their needs.

The fact is Zimbabwe is said to only have 10% formal employment. With most in formal employment being paid in RTGS and salaries being as low as $300/mth for doctors.

Now contrast this with Zimbabwe having had a record year of car importations in 2018. We have also seen a record boom in housing construction, live stocking, cropping, mine developments, investment in farming assets, farming implement ownership etc in both rural and urban areas, which is mainly financed by surplus and not debt.

All these developments are hardly driven by the 10% RTGS earning employees, most of whom don’t have any surplus to buy foreign currency.

This illustrates to me that Zimbabwe is driven by people who have surplus or factors of production like land, minerals, raw materials, machinery, equipment or seeds to produce outside selling their labor to industry.

Now compare that with most of us who live in countries driven by debt. Countries where people have no surplus, they own nothing so they have to buy food, clothes, cars, accommodation and their needs on debt and then spend the rest of their lives working in industry to pay off the debt.

We have also seen the governments of such nations take on huge sovereign debt to build freeways, power stations, nuclear plants and beautiful infrastructure and then mortgage their gold, uranium, land and other strategic resources to western countries and China for the maintenance of that same infrastructure.

This in turn will see the unfortunate assetless and production factorless citizens slave away in industry owned by westerners and the Chinese (who gave them the debt) for generations to pay off that debt. THAT IS POVERTY!

Now imagine. In most of those countries the western owners of assets and factors of production are planning to replace workers with technology, robots and machinery.

How will those citizens survive then when they can’t sell their labor to industry to survive? That is going to lead to ABJECT POVERTY. Owning your labor, land, seeds, water and resources is true wealth.

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