Zambia is a really mad country, politically. How do you have a situation where one day the president stands up and tells the whole nation that he is only going to govern up to 2021 and a few days later, his party Secretary General says the opposite and tells the nation that his own president and boss is mistaken because the party has decided that he is contesting in 2021, come rain or sunshine, whether the president likes it or not?
Does this mean the P.I.G. (Party and It’s Government) does not care about the outcome of the pending Constitutional Court petition concerning the eligibility of the incumbent? How can people make decisions willy-nilly like that and (effectively) show the middle finger to democracy and rule of law? Or maybe they already know what the decision will be? Does it mean no one in the P.I.G. wants to take over in 2021? Or that none of the current leaders have any desire to also govern Zambia one day? Are we back to the dark “KK wamuyaya” days?
What kind of country has politics obsessed with elections, FOUR years in advance and constant legal squabbling? The ruling party is in court over 2021 presidential eligibility arguments. The biggest opposition are in court over the legitimacy of the incumbent president and the 2016 elections. The former ruling party are also in court arguing about who is the rightful president of their party! What kind of nonsense is this surely? I am sorry I cannot find a more polite word to describe what is happening politically.
Does it mean we have have nothing better to talk about or deal with? Every day people are dying for lack of drugs in hospitals. Children all over the country are walking kilometres to school every day whilst others cannot go to school due to lack of money. People are suffering under the extreme burden of poverty but we waste inordinate amounts of time talking about eligibility, petitions and arguments about party presidents.
On 10th January 2017, Canadian based lawyer Elias Munshya and I co-wrote and published a piece where we explained why the current president is not legally eligible to stand in 2021. Two days later, Elias Chipimo Jr published a brilliant piece with a much clearer explanation of the issue of terms of office and why the incumbent does not qualify. I thought any reasonable person who read those two articles would have seen sense but no, we have to waste time and energy arguing over things that are straight-forward.
I really get disappointed and sometimes irked at just how primitive our politics is and I begin to think that maybe we deserve to be poor. Just a few weeks ago, I was reading in amazement how in Sweden, they are harvesting heat from computer servers in massive data centers and selling it to homes for people to use for showering. They even recycle the heat that goes down the drain as you shower!
Now that is what I call a civilized, productive and proper society where people have long stopped obsessing with political nonsense but are focusing on real issues, innovations and new technology which improves the lives of ordinary people. As the Ghanaian preacher Dr Mensa Otabil said in 1993 at the Victory Ministries inaugural Conference that I attended, Africa is 200 years behind the developed world in terms of human development. At the rate we are going, we may regress to 300 years behind!
I think it is time for those in politics to show some responsibility and begin to focus on real issues instead of propagating the current political circus which will not help the hard working woman in Shan’gombo who wants to educate her kids and secure a better future for them than what she has experienced.
If as a sitting government you are really working, there is no need to waste time making an internal party debate a national issue. Just work and keep sontaling where you are working and citizens on their own will vote you back in. You do not even have to do anything to disadvantage the opposition like using the archaic 1953 colonial Public Order Act (POA). You can even let the totally discredited police do their work and arrest your members who are misbehaving.
If as biggest opposition you really care for Zambians, speak on their behalf and provide robust checks and balances so that the ruling party does better and we all benefit. You don’t have to keep crying like a small baby every day about stolen elections, not recognizing the current government or about dead presidential petitions.
The same way you criticize the PIG over the third term is the same way you will be criticized for being stuck in the past and making silly excuses for the botched presidential petition which had a million preliminary issues.
Zambians expect all opposition Members of Parliament to ask tough questions in Parliament constantly, instead of just collecting allowances and boycotting proceedings by walking out at the slightest perceived offence. Why have the opposition failed to force accountability on the $42 million Firegate Scandal? How can they watch someone claiming that ambulances cost $288,000 each and they just sit ndwii like an animal in powerful car headlights at night?
Ba opposition, honestly how do you allow government officials treat us like we are a bunch of fools with their useless explanations on the million Dollar fire trucks and quarter million ambulances? Spare parts and a brand new vehicle over a period of 5 years plus training amounts to $288,000 each? Puleeez!!! Why don’t you publish the breakdown of the $288,000 so that we actually take you seriously?
If as smaller opposition you want to make a mark on Zambia, grow your party with an appealing message to all Zambians. Go on the ground and market yourself to Zambians with a really simple but powerful message. Making statements on social media is not what will make you become a force to reckon with. Find a message that can stick and run with it as you strengthen your party structures.
If as a citizen you can see all this political nonsense going on, vote wisely in 2021. You do not have to be stuck on useless political slogans nor be bought off too easily. Ask your leaders when they come with their endless donations to invest much more time in capacity building and entrepreneurship programmes. As a wise proverb says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I can only hope, perhaps against hope, that all our political leaders on all sides graduate from what I can call “Subsistence Politics” (actually Stone Age politics in many cases) and focus 95% of their energies on real issues that affect real people. As the Bible in Luke 12:48 says, “to whom much is given, much shall be required.” Let me end with my own paraphrased version of the Bible in James 3:1.
“Not many of you should become politicians, my fellow citizens, because you know that politicians will be judged more strictly and incur greater condemnation”.