IT is about time that we took responsibility for our environment. It begins with you and me. You could see from the body language at the most recent Press Conference; that former British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump, mean “business” for their respective countries.
Of course; it is a fact that once upon a time, Britain colonised parts of Africa. But, truth be said, British rule in the form of “master – servant” is no longer here. We have no choice but to take charge – no excuses or apologies and no arrogance!
Those who elect to be dissatisfied do so “voluntarily” without compulsion. Admittedly, greedy souls are generally present in most societies and Zambia is no exception!
For example, the former Cartel that unleashed terror basically corrupted society and the electoral system. It is not active; but in hibernation! WARNING: Members of the Cartel and its Allies are only on break and once opportunity comes their way, they will be as visible as before. Put differently, they have not abandoned their grand project, but only on recess awaiting better prospects.
Now, that is the former Cartel. There may be a new configuration as supported by speculations and haters. This is not our immediate focus. What about you and me and our project called Zambia? Are we taking responsibility for our existence and the many actions we see? Let’s address fundamentals of our environment. I suggest we locate our concerns in our respective natural bearings. Why? Partly because I am certain that our environment, was never colonised and our natural resources, are God’s gifting to Zambia. Why should we be so desperate so as to want to literary throw our heritage away, to investors and other visitors – legal and illegal?
I doubt if anyone will quarrel with the fact that our people need happiness. We will all be happy if we lived in a clean environment, where dust, cobwebs and pollution are not part of the equation.
We would be healthier and happy if we all had access to clean water, electricity, and basics which include shelter, food, medical care and education.
When we reach a point of happiness, politics as we now know it, will not take a prominent and central position in our land as is the case. Zambia is never and can never be only about partisan politics!
Part of the problem, which we must cure and face head-on, is the unwise but common practice of making and seeing everything through partisan lenses. The attendant and embarrassing reality is the petty/small and big corruption dominating debate, without reason. For me, none of the two illegalities is a better option. They are all seeds of destruction!
So, let’s have a bird’s view of our terrain: How can we abandon corrupt ways, if a large section of our society is deceitful? A typical scenario would be as follows:
A decision is made by authorities to undertake ABC project for the benefit of the country. An official who has received or solicited for a kick-back, of project ABC, will ensure that it succeeds in the manner the “devil architects” or deceiver wants.
It does not matter whether pushing ABC; means negatively “pushing files” or undermining the laws that are enforced by say the Zambia Environmental Agency (ZEMA) or indeed any other government agency.
Instances where a functionary is perceived to be a stumbling block, frustrating or making one’s job difficult, are common occurrences!
It does not matter whether project ABC, will cause so much havoc to the environment and send Zambia’s disease burden sky-rocketing. (After all, there is the Ministry of Health!) The guiding factor of project ABC and its agents is the bottom-line and the consequent short term illegitimate benefits.
The “small illegalities” (With deadly cumulative impact) of irregular but unnoticed incidents are things like bribing a Teacher for a school place, bribing a Police man or woman to escape a traffic offence (no driving licence, no insurance or no road tax etc).
In the examples mentioned, what is worth noting is that all the issues of concern are taking place in Zambia; mostly in broad daylight. Second, if the issues have no bearing on political trimmings, the public and famous Radio Politicians, who include opposition political parties, will not issue statements either praising or condemning.
Third, the fact that wrong doing is taking place in Zambia implies that to a greater extent relevant authorities have given “necessary approvals.” It is actually possible in this sketch, to have a “dirty” environmental assessment report “approved.”
In the context of taking responsibility for Zambia and our future, this is where I see problems. My assessment is based on the many comments in the public space where Zambians debate issues so recklessly. Arising out of greed and the absence of civic consciousness, I detect serious problems in the way and manner we deal with issues, wherein “speculation” and rumour-mongering, are part of our body politic. My assessment is that some educated Zambians are in effect neo-literates and not too different from pedestrian commentators. They do not know what it means and entails to be a citizen, let alone that citizen; who is in good standing with the law!
They do not know that democracy requires management; it requires embracing responsibility and more important, it requires making smart decisions that have nothing to do with self, but the country.
At worst, and regrettably; a number of Zambians, have opted to embrace treachery and butchered or killed their conscience. A person who has killed his or her conscience has no or little problem betraying and lying to a colleague or engaging in sabotage. There are many unpatriotic souls who come in many worrisome and suspect skins.
I hold the view that a person, who is a practitioner of betrayal, would strongly disagree with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who argues that “It is better to be hanged for loyalty than be rewarded for betrayal”!
Judas Iscariot, in the bible betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ and he is detested for that. The pain and anguish Christians suffered, is comparable to the pain and anguish one causes, when Zambia, is either misinformed or deceived.
It will be very difficult to register progress in the company of deception, which is enveloped in many “get rich quickly schemes.” The rat race towards primitive accumulation of capital has gained momentum, like a 400-metre race. It is quite vicious, with the absolute or net loser, being Zambia!
If our aim is to grow and own our country, we must take responsibility for our Physical, Economic, Cultural and Social environments. It begins with you and me. To achieve this, we must endeavour to reach consensus on several social and political issues.
I have made some observations which we may wish to interrogate further. Some of the observations are:
a) Zambians are in the habit of commenting and making conclusions on issues coloured with falsehoods and with very little information. This is not only dangerous but undermines legal and legitimate actions of the concerned Civil service departments. I dare say, NOBODY is above the law and NO right is absolute!
There is no question that combating corruption is necessary and important. In this fight, transparency is critical. Equally, process and delivery accountability, are central in the important steps of arresting, prosecuting and convicting. What is the point of prosecuting anybody when credible and reliable evidence cannot be produced, because investigations are compromised or haphazard?
While there are many other views, which I respect, I personally do not think that it is smart to alert potential convicts, because only successful prosecution, (conviction) will put a stop to illicit activities. A scarecrow, will not, because Dutch courage will quickly manifest, though very suspect!
b) Those who religiously followed the Mwanawasa Presidency will agree that before fear set in among some civil servants who have access to public funds; there was an uprising against his Presidency. Accordingly, he was perceived as persecuting Zambians, believed to have “stolen public funds.” I have my doubts as to whether all individuals who stood trial are the ones who “stole” public funds. To the extent that the fight against corruption failed to get the desired results, one can conclude that either it was a pure witch-hunt or fishing expedition to stand tall politically; or there was a high level of incompetence on the part of the prosecution team.
One can look at President Mwanawasa’s anti-corruption crusade from several angles though. One angle is that Zambia is a country of laws and if need be, the law will visit you.
This does not mean that one is guilt but only a suspect and it is for the courts of law to determine your guiltiness or innocence. In such cases, arrest and the due process were inevitable!
What I am seeing is that many individuals learnt something from President Mwanawasa’s efforts, whose yield was quite low. They learnt that they must “fight,” misinform and shield the truth, using a political platform.
Some opposition political party leaders/members appear to be above the law, so much so that arresting them, attracts controversy even when doing so, is the right thing.
To be continued next week
See you then.
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