POSITIVE VIBRATIONS: Political Sabotage

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WHEN President Kenneth Kaunda, and the United National Independence Party (UNIP) was voted out of office in 1991, the successor party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, (MMD) accused UNIP and Dr. Kaunda in particular, of having looted  US$7  billion.

The consequent, but regrettable harassment of Dr. Kaunda while “attempted State capture” was afoot; is well documented.

Callous privatisation, (facilitated by some Zambians, dishonestly wealthy), was in top gear, donning the new culture tag. Industry was dismantled, mines privatised, the national airline – Zambia Airways –  closed and “liquidated.”

The United Bus Company of Zambia and others were sold off and “privatised,” in a project that created poverty and introduced a fraudulent chapter in Zambia’s economic sequence.

Let’s not run away from the product that we demanded in 1991. We threw away order, represented by President Kaunda’s administration, to a grand experiment of auto-pilot.

Who remembers the cartoon, by the late Trevor Ford, in the defunct Post Newspapers, of President Chiluba’s desk with a pile of files written “Corruption”?

My question is simple: If not for political sabotage and expediency, how come we have been fighting corruption from the time the Anti Corruption Commission; (under the direction of Mr Paul Russell), was established and not won?

I disagreed with one prominent clergyman on radio for arguing that the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) was not representative because prominent personalities such as Ngande Mwanajiti, were not participating. I happened to be on that panel discussion, and advised: “Ngande is not “Zambians” and his absence from any process, cannot invalidate the outcome.” Further, “Ngande must see greatness, in what other citizens do.”

It became clear to me that the doubtful “man of God” was merely politicking and puncturing holes in a national programme. For crying out loud, the ghost of political palaver and ruddiness is back with resentment.

This time, the attacks are on the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), strangely by those who intentionally, chose not to participate.

There is a Ugandan proverb that “if one cow is for whatever reason unable to “eat,” other cows willing and able to “eat” must not be stopped.

It is possible to mix issues. Let me again guide that there is a difference between National Politics and Partisan Politics. National Politics involves all citizens and addresses national issues, beyond politics.

Partisan positions/statements are essentially limited to members and mostly, those in party structures. When and if National issues are discussed in Parties, it is through partisan spectacles.

My counsel therefore is that those who have intentionally elected to participate passively, by staying away; enjoy a democratic right, just as it is a democratic right for a person to decline medical attention.

Undoubtedly, consequences follow! In the context of civility and respect for one another, including the rule of law, let those who have democratically chosen to stay away stop “throwing stones” at the Forum through unhelpful expressions, associated with “Lords of Poverty.”  National expectations for a constitutional settlement and stability are very high.

It is important that we are at peace, with self and each other. It all begins with the choices one makes. Do you make a choice to be divisive or do you make a mature choice of building bridges? All the time, before, now and tomorrow, I advise people to build bridges, rather than walls. It is a wise investment into the future!

One of the reasons for the provision of amendments in legal documents, like the constitution, is space and time. Nothing is ever cast in concrete. So in the context of amendments to any law, if a party garners the required parliamentary support, it can cause amendments to the constitution. Respecting the rule of law places an icing of graciousness, for harmony!

From where I stand, what is manifesting as concerns is twofold: The first issue is that which key stakeholders and citizens, (electorates), have raised. The electorates constitutionally deserve effective representation. Due representation, has unfortunately been denied because of taking into account irrelevant considerations.

The second issue, which triggers the first, is purely of political considerations unknown to me and probably many others.

It is enveloped in suspicion, rumour, deception and conjecture, which complicates democratic governance. Ask a basic question around legality and legitimacy:

Is it illegal and illegitimate for electorates to demand representation by their Member of Parliament? (Note; NO Member of Parliament is elected by a Political Party. Equally, all seating Members of Parliament are MPs for those who support and elected them. Also, those who do not support and did not vote for them! Representation in its broadest sense is NEVER a party affair!).

As a way forward, paying attention to negativity, takes away from genuine and legitimate efforts of national building.  The very fact that the majority of Members of Parliament are participating in the National Dialogue Forum, is commendable. Whether there is merit in accusations of unfairness by the NDF leadership is insignificant because the delegates are competent and qualified to resolve all operational issues. Remember, the guiding principle is never opinion but LAW. Has any Law been abrogated? If so, we must demand for demonstrable remedial action.

If on the other hand any complaint is borne out of malice, we must be accommodative and treat it as a form of Freedom of Expression.  The resultant act unless in conflict with the law, must just be tolerated.  Let’s not undermine the reality of divergent schools of thought!

My continued reference to political sabotage is borne out of the realisation that we have for a while now been reading from the same script. For instance, President Kaunda led UNIP to boycott the 1996 national elections.  I respected his decision in much the same way that I respect any legal and legitimate decision.

The issue which we must question is the effect of a particular decision. In the last General Election, several opposition political figures and allied friends campaigned against the expanded Bill of Rights. The result is that the bill was defeated, and the nation – meaning Zambian citizens, are on the frontline of loss.

When UNIP boycotted elections, it effectively meant that all its structures country-wide, faced serious political challenges. By the time the pause button was lifted from the command centre, the structures were too weak to run. These are not just stories. (I am fully aware of the different dynamics and times/circumstances)

Away from Zambian politics and bringing in another dimension, the term “human shield” was effectively used, in the campaign against late Saddam Hussein. The people of Iraq were pounded by all kinds of artillery as American troops and their Allies, looked for the non–existent Weapons of Mass destruction.  The war ended, with Iraq in ruins.

A similar pattern has been silently raging in some areas of Zambia. Residents of these areas are not any different from the so-called “human shields.”  These residents have no choice but to face one direction, otherwise consequences, which include violence, have been designed and at hand.

You see, it is because of flawed thinking that political sabotage has taken root in Zambia. The thinking is simply that if it is not me, nothing good can happen and nothing should happen.

This pattern is evident in Africa where most opposition political parties never expect to lose. Here in Zambia though, two ruling parties have lost elections, superintended by institutions that others are investing in discrediting! So, just why are we doing this to ourselves?

Multi-party politics appear to be a curse and a breeding ground for conflict in most of Africa. Some opposition political parties appear to swear to bring the government down and when they take over, they say, we have inherited an “empty Treasury,” justifying possible larceny and impropriety!

The direct implication and import of this state of affairs is that by choice, Africans and in this case Zambians, have chosen to “send” their democracy into reverse. They say, nothing is working – everything is bad (impossible) thereby sending shocks in entities and processes that anchor the economy.

It takes only a sentence and induced despair to create havoc in a nation. For this reason, I remain a strong supporter of strong institutions because they manage unreasonable or challenging conduct by any stakeholder, without fear or favour.

There is a very strong case for most Zambians to support the position taken by President Edgar Lungu.  His administration faces hostility that has been cooked and baked by his fellow citizens, some who seek to unseat him.

President Lungu must continue taking the posture of a Statesman and allow the due process of law on the many issues to run their full course. It is, and will be hard but necessary.  National governance is a critical requirement for the Head of State and his staff contrasted with heads of opposing political clubs.

My expectation is that we should begin to smell the coffee.  Whether one likes it or not, the cheese has moved and the die is cast.

It is just unacceptable that we should continue embracing political sabotage. Why should we? We have lost too much money all because of a combination of ego, futility, sectarianism and downright selfishness.

What I make out of the NDF, are citizens resolved to make Zambia better, devoid of profit and monetary benefit.

See you next week.

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