a zinc shack

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Senior Member

The following is from Financial Times.

"Back in Liberia, Prince Johnson, once one of the country’s most notorious warlords, is in his second nine-year senatorial term. He too said legislators were not overpaid. Some, he observed, went practically bankrupt dishing out money to hangers-on. “The first law of nature is self-preservation. I have to survive before I can help someone else. I cannot be a senator in this country and live in a zinc shack,” he said, gesturing around his large compound. “I’m a big man. I’ve got to live big.”"

Then, what does the sentence "I cannot be a senator in this country and live in a zinc shack" mean in this context, in particular with regards to the use of the expression 'a zinc shack'?
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    Senior Member
    American English
    He cannot live in a shack whose side walls (and probably roof) are sheets of zinc. Think of a tin shack, if that helps. I've seen shacks covered in soft drink cans that have had their tops and bottoms removed, been cut up one size and then smoothed flat like a tile, before being nailed to the outside of a shack like shingle siding.

    Here are any number of zinc shacks on Google Images.
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