Jesuit Scholars Decry Zambia’s Worsening Economic, Social Reality, Call for Interventions

The Logo of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Credit: JCTR

Jesuit scholars in Zambia are concerned about the current economic and social conditions in Zambia, which they say are getting worse due to the high cost of living, making life for people in the Southern African nation difficult, some “barely surviving from day to day”.

In a Wednesday, July 6 statement, officials of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) call upon the Zambian government to address the urgent need for affordable food and housing in the country. 

“There is enough evidence that the social and economic conditions of the majority of the population have not improved an inch. In fact, the social and economic reality in the country is getting worse,” they say in the statement signed by JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe.

The Jesuit scholars say that though prices of basic goods are increasing at a slow pace, “the fact is that commodity prices are very high and are likely to remain that way for some time given the ever-increasing fuel pump prices.”

“This is happening in a context where incomes are very low and, in some instances, very miserable, especially for the unskilled category of employees such as domestic workers and shop workers,” JCTR officials say, adding that the minimum wage in Zambia has remained unrevised for years. 


They highlight the legal minimum wage for a domestic worker in Zambia, which they say has remained at US$53 per month since 2011.  

Officials of the Jesuit research institution in Zambia say the reduction of food prices due to factors like seasonality or stabilization of the exchange rate “cannot in any way bring any relief to poor households because such food items that have registered some minimal price reduction are out of reach for these households in the first place.” 

“Reduction in food and non-food items in the past months have no impact whatsoever on the hard reality of poverty-stricken households where people are barely surviving from day to day,” they say.

In their July 6 statement, JCTR officials say the number of people living in poverty in the landlocked nation remains “very high”.

Unfortunately, they add, “In Zambia today we have become so accustomed to coexisting peacefully with poverty that we no longer get alarmed when we hear of stressful stories of our brothers and sisters in poor households around the country who are struggling to barely survive due to the rising cost of living.”

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“Something is not adding up,” say the Jesuit scholars in Zambia, and underscore the need for the Zambian government to make policies that address people’s needs. 

“It is very clear that the least the government can do as it puts together the 2023 national budget is to demonstrate that it is a listening government, notwithstanding the challenges of prolonged debt negotiations, by putting in place some measures to address the majority’s demand for affordable food and shelter,” JCTR officials say. 

They add that Zambians “want not only jobs but also decent incomes and a living wage coupled with less punitive taxes.”

“These demands are not new,” JCTR officials say, adding that the United Party for National Development (UPND) government “reverberated the people’s aspirations in some of its election promises in the run up to the elections last year.”

“The people of Zambia are keenly watching to see if the new administration is going to fulfill a great deal of its election promises by the time of its first anniversary in government next month,” officials of the research institution in Zambia say.


Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.