Images of emaciated children with distended bellies, flies in their eyes which are used to elicit response from people who have never encountered this kind of suffering in their everyday lives is a typical example of poverty porno.

Pornography of poverty is a term mostly used by development practitioners to describe the worst of the images that exploit the poor for little more than voyeuristic ends and where people are portrayed as helpless, passive objects.

These powerful images touch hearts, are used by NGOs to raise money for their programs in the South and they usually work.

Poverty porn is “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers, increasing charitable donations, or support for a given cause”, as proposed by journalist Matt Collins in 2009.

In Zimbabwe, poverty porno has taken a new twist as ‘respected’ adults are paraded at car sales receiving car donations from a pompus and controversial businessman without any business known by the public so as to support a certain cause (ZANU PF).

The controversial donations of vehicles by Wicknell Chivhayo can be construed in the essance of ‘poverty porno’.

The parading of artists and influencers before the camera receiving vehicle handouts, exploits the condition of their lack and generate a sense of concern for ZANU PF as a party that goes a long way to cater for its supporters.

There has been mixed reactions as on the poorness of the receiving victims. The poorness is not limited to material things but also include freedom of choice.

The artists whether they like it or not they are not expected to turn anything away from ZANU PF just like how they are expected to compulsory perform at ZANU PF functuons

The likes of ‘Seh Calaz’ and ‘Sniper Storm’ besides performing at ZANU PF events, they lack the means of production and feels the ‘car-gate’ is the slimmest opportunity to have a piece of the national cake. They believe material things over dignity makes a person rich.

Those receiving the cars are objectified and humiliated, Nicholas Zacharia besides being a role model for many has his dignity threaded by Chivhayo as he was asked to politely ask for vehicle than trying to be cunning after a video went viral in which Zacharia was having his old vehicle serviced.

Zacharia had to subtlety ask for forgiveness and was awarded with a Toyota Fortuner for his lack.

The Victor, a car dealer who became a hero over night has to champion the pornographic appreciation of Alick Macheso and Chaplin Phiri above other victims of car gifts humiliation.

The opposite of poverty is not income. If the problems were simply the case of income, it could have been fixed by simply giving the poor some extra money and be done with it.

The opposite of poverty is dignity.

Dignity is freedom. It is choice. It is having control over decisions in lives.

Dignity is the most fundamental of human being yearnings; to be seen, to be counted and to be free.

It is this indomitable spirit that binds human beings, that is most fundamental to humanity.

The narrative around poverty must be changed.

Many measure success as simply the number of jobs created or income gained.

Today, despite global success at lifting 300 million of the world’s poorest out of poverty, a success to be fully celebrated — at least half of the people are effectively shut out of the opportunities and possibilities of the global economy.

Too many are living in societies with limited opportunities for “people like them,” whether due to economic or political exclusion, and feel a dearth of hope that life will improve for themselves or their children.

To break the manacles of the poverty of injustice, there must be investment not in profits alone but in dignity.

Investing in ways to ensure all children have a quality education is investing in dignity. So is investing in companies that give voice to smallholder farmers, including profit- or premium-sharing options.

Because of the ubiquity of cellphones, now thousands of low-income customers can be reached at a time, asking them for feedback on services provided, ultimately getting a more precise picture of what they want as customers. 

The more the world focus on others and help them to be counted, lies the secret to ending poverty and also to enabling human flourishing.

Changing the narrative around poverty means focusing on human dignity. It means building inclusive systems that recognise the benefits and costs of our actions on other human beings and on the planet as well.

How to end poverty entails championing the dignity of every person.

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