As the impact of economic policies guided by the Structural Adjustment Programme became more evident in the lives of ordinary Zambians, the Church spoke out strongly to challenge the Government to pay more attention to the immense suffering of the people. The letter challenges the primacy accorded to free market dominance and notes the decline in social indicators of well-being. SAP is not a natural law but a human creation that needs to be questioned in terms of its timing, content and direction. The letter is critical of a programme that pays more attention to fiscal management than to human development. Three specific recommendations are made at the conclusion, for an independent tribunal to negotiate prices and wages, a national task force on social services and a national forum to evaluate SAP. Unless concrete action is taken soon, Government policies that show lack of social concern can lead to an “economic apartheid” in which the gap between rich and poor widens. The call to look closely at the social consequences of SAP laid the foundation for the SAP Monitoring Project begun in [l994] by the CCJP. It is significant that President Chiluba initially criticised the Bishops’ letter but later acknowledged its importance.
We must all "hear the cry of the poor"!
Lusaka, Zambia, 23 July 1993