POSITIVE VIBRATIONS: THE AFRICAN PALAVER – FOCUS ON ZAMBIA

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By Ngande Mwanajiti

(Part 1)

EVERYBODY has an opinion about what must be done to “fix” the Zambian economy and its society. However, not all viewpoints are correct and not all viewpoints are useful. Nevertheless, they remain views!

Generally, political formations propagate views, contained in manifestos, which also often times, includes policy statements and other articulations – planned or not planned. Some views are extremely useful and others, not so useful, but “great democratic blast.”

One of the challenges for Zambia and its people; who include residents and the international community, is to read in between lines for truth, arrogance and falsehoods. Zambia as I have said before has not been spared from the ravaging effect of falsehoods and bullish conduct.

I asked, and still ask, what happened of the story that Zambia is so indebted that it “sold” its key State Assets to China? It was a falsehood – a blatant semi-official lie, equivalent to the lies of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraqi. (Do you know that the famous Iraqi Bunkers were built by Zambian labour?).

The question beyond falsehoods is not really that social media went agog with peddling lies but, the damaging effect of those lies on the country and its people who include foreigners on the border margins of Zambia, if one cares.

I see nothing wrong with being indebted. It is a reality of development but that notwithstanding, a concern deserving treatment elsewhere based on empirical data and facts. I hold the view that issues are being distorted and co-mingled, knowingly or unknowingly.

For whatever reason, it looks like that some Zambians have joined forces with hostile views hell bent on what appears to be unwilling to appreciate the strategic/important achievements of President Edgar Lungu (and his delegates). 

As a matter of prudent thought, honouring President Lungu by the University of Zambia, Zambia’s prime higher institution, was the right thing to do – given some of his evident achievements that stare the world.

Take a look:

Extremely important: President Edgar C. Lungu appointed the first ever woman Vice President, in the name of Bo Inonge Mutukwa Wina, a distinguished Freedom Fighter, Gender Advocate, Human Rights Defender, Business Woman, Farmer and Distinguished Leader of Government Business in the August House.  You would have to harbour an extremely unfortunate heart and wearing jaundiced spectacles, not to see and appreciate the dignity with which she executes government business.

I hold the view that we must cherish and commend good, when it manifests and is here rather than wait for posterity. A first female VEEP for Zambia is a major breakthrough of President Lungu’s resolve for inclusive Governance. It is a Gender achievement based on merit and serious political engineering.

Also very important; Infrastructural Development: It all begun with King Cobra; President M C. Sata (MHSRIP). It is impossible to engage in largescale intra country commerce and trade without a solid, reliable and fine road network.

President Lungu continued were President Sata ended and has since delivered some road infrastructure that is second to none. The recent state visit to the United Arab Emirates and project discussions makes the point of commitment to holistic infrastructure development.

Very important too; Law Reform: No law is cast in stone. The Civil Society led mantra that “Process safeguards content” with regard to the last Constitutional review, has saddled us with a problematic constitution, which must be reformed, without fear or favour.

The priority on law reform and willingness to open debate by President Lungu’s government on some thorny issues such as the Public Order Act; is highly commendable as it supports an enabling legal regime, wherein criticism, continues to be roundly accommodated. Of course, as expected of any democratic process, there will be hiccups!

It is my considered view that law reform, be considered as “work in progress” in the honourable quest to consolidate Zambia’s peaceful record.    

Others:

President Edgar Lungu and I like it that way, does not go around flexing his power. Trust me, he can do it. But, it is not necessary to push him to do it.

Recently, President Kagame said of his country that “We shall make wrong doing very, very expensive. Those who will engage in it by fronting legitimate platforms will be traced and will have themselves to blame. And you know, I mean it,” he quipped.

I have personally had experience with hard power in other jurisdictions and I would plead with our people to invest in civility, peace, law and order as opposed to anarchy. Zambia is for Zambians and Zambians will either build or break the country.

As a matter of expression, responsibility and respect for the rule of law, the American Ambassador, Mr Daniel Foote, as reported by some Radio Stations, has mixed issues.

He has gone political and in clear conflict with his core duty as a diplomat. Of course, he represents a super power!

If he is unhappy with a Court decision, the way to go, I would advise, is to appeal the decision and make his case, assuming that the issue of loci standi, has been addressed.  

I see no relationship, but comparison, between the Gay Judgment and reported incidents of graft and other penalties for wrong doing, which penalties are clearly ripe for law reform. It is also important that we do not undermine the essence of the Rule of Law. Zambia and the United States of America are all Common Law countries.

For purposes of clarity and emphasis, the law is what it is and not what anybody wants it to be. If there is anything that the US Embassy can and should do, it is to support law reform within the context of upholding Zambian values.  Such a step would be consistent with international law and in particular, the aspirations of the US government.

For Zambians to remain steadfast with achievements so far, citizens, individually and severally must add, rather than take away or subtract from the collective good and responsibility.

It is important that we all understand the purpose for which we exist. We must learn and commit to respect each other. We must do all that citizens are obliged to. The onus is actually more on all political players because, all without exception seek to take control of government and running government is no joke.

For this reason, Zambians must not be like former members of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). These guys led by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, achieved a lot but it looks like they are too shy to talk about their ACHIEVEMENTS.

If you dispute the prowess and potency  (of course UNIP made serious and costly mistakes) of UNIP then, ask/consult the likes of Sikota Wina, Mama Christine Mulundika, President Rupiah Banda, and Historians/Political Scientists.

A visit at the National Archives and the University of Zambia Special Collections Division, would add immense value.    

As a matter of fact, all of Zambia’s Presidents, where one time or the other, UNIP members! I am certain that the Patriotic Front (PF) founder was a UNIP member and minister and the pattern is similar with certain PF members, who unfortunately want to sound as though they have never been members of any other political party in Zambia. In fact, I am just not too sure whether all other political leaders in and outside Parliament, were once upon a time, not UNIP members.

What I have captured here, is what looks like an African problem of denial and lack of respect or due regard to our past, including our own institutions, procedures and processes.

The net result is that others take advantage of the gaps or indeed permissiveness. It is this challenge of human failure that leads to primitive accumulation of capital. 

Is it reasonable for a civil servant to own very expensive property and lead a luxurious life style, beyond means? I ask, just why?  In the office, they try to run government business and outside the office, they run their own businesses. This is an artificial problem that we must cure.

The kettle of fish representing grand corruption and perhaps misuse of public funds seriously visited Zambia, post the Kaunda era and the fact of graft; has been confirmed by no other than President Lungu, who has been emphatic and categorical on Office Holders to do their work without fear or favour.

Do Zambians and the international community; want President Lungu, to be a dictator?  I have said before that we do not expect the President and his Ministers to go around arresting criminals. It is our civic duty not to all the time politicise the fight against corruption but actually synergise and strengthen law enforcement agencies.

No Police, anywhere in the world, can be effective without the tacit support of citizens. It is just impossible. Conversely, the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies, must demonstrate that they exist for Zambia and remove the misplaced perception and innuendos that they are partial and only work on instructions.

Crack the whip!

We have a common enemy. That is, the Social Media and its massive wheels of falsehoods.  In all fairness though, the government is well equipped to deal with falsehoods, through proactive and effective monitoring of the Media terrain.

See you next week.  

Comments: ngandem12@gmail.com       Cell/SMS 0977776191

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