Michael Sata: From Populist to Recluse

Shakespeare, in his view about leaders and leadership, said rulers have the habit of distancing themselves from their people once they get into power.

It was as though Shakespeare knew that Mr Michael Sata would one day be the President of Zambia because his description of leadership is the apt situation in which the people of Zambia find themselves in after voting the Patrotic Front (PF) into government.

Before the 2011 elections, the PF President Michael Sata often projected himself as a man of the people. He stood closer to the people and often interacted with the common man.  He would hop onto minibuses and dispense abundant charm upon commuting workers.

For instance, he ate from the commonest of places. He attended funerals for the poor of the poorest in the communities where he went to beg for votes. Although he was already a wealthy businessman, Mr Sata pretended that he was experiencing the same excruciating horror of poverty and social vices that the common people experienced in Zambia.

He was once posed for a photo op in the Post Newspaper waiting in line with plastic containers at a gas station during the shortage of fuel in 2011.

But now that he is in power, the populist Mr Sata has disappeared from the people who voted for him, transforming into a recluse who has yet to give a press conference and who has convened only two cabinet meetings. He promised to continue being the man of the people, but now many people understandably feel that he has tricked the people out of his trust.

Mr Sata does not appear in public to address the many hardships facing the people.

Zambians are even wondering whether he goes to church at Saint Ignatius Catholic Parish near his private residence in Rhodes Park, where he would crowd the premises with scores of security protocol just after he won the elections and when his popularity was still high.

The price of basic commodities such as mealie meal, bread, bus fares have skyrocketed. Inflation, the cost of living, the cost of doing business, taxes, unemployment, crime and social vices such as prostitution have increased.

On the other hand, the Kwacha has taken a nose dive, making it more of a souvenir than a currency when pitted against other currencies in the region.

Despite these challenges, there is a very loud silence from the Head of State who must show leadership by way of coming out in the open and give direction to the matters at hand.

The President has decided to remain mute on critical national matters that border of the welfare of the people.

Is President alive? Is he in the country? What is he working? These are some of the questions that Zambians are asking.

Mr Sata rarely appears on television, radio or other public events. The only time he is seen on television or heard on radio is when is conducting a swearing in ceremony for his cadres from the PF.

The other few occasions Mr Sata has peeped into the public is when he flies from State House to the airport before departure for an international destination.

The other occasions people hear from Mr Sata is through his spokesperson, George Chellah’s media statements about re-alignment of districts, mourning chiefs and road accident victims and such monotonous utterances.

The other few times Mr Sata has been seen in public is when he ends up making serious diplomatic gaffes and launching senseless attacks on critics at the expense of addressing critical national matters.

Before going into government, Mr Sata preached that the MMD was wasting time of trivial matters.

He alleged that he was a man of action and not a time waster. The opposite is now the reality because the 90 day window, in which he promised to bring change on Zambia’s social and economic outlook has turned out to be a total lie.

Mr Sata has been so lukewarm and he has wasted one year in Zambia’s development agenda.

The people of Zambia expect President Michael Sata to give them a state of the nation address, which he has not done since he was voted into power one year ago.

He has remained mute on leadership matters, but time could be running out on both him and the Zambians whose patience is fast waning.

If Shakespeare’s views that leadership corrupts and absolute leadership corrupts absolutely is anything to embrace, the statement fits in squarely into the PF government.

Wanton corruption has become the order of the day because of absolute leadership, which has gone into the PF.

For instance, there are several accusations of corrupt deals surrounding Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba who has secured pubic tenders dubiously.

Mr Mwamba allegedly obtained the tender to transport fuel to Malawi during the funeral of Bingu Wa Mtharika.

Youth and Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili has obtained vast tracts of land in Luanshya without the authority of the local council.

Mr Chishimba Kamwili has manipulated the Chinese investors in Luanshya to secure contracts to mining companies.

Although the President if aware of such corruption, he has remained mute instead of curbing the wrong doing.

The writing is on the wall. Mr Sata and his crony of PF cons have failed lamentably to attempt of their campaign promises.

What is also true is that Mr Sata is now shy. He is hiding from the people of Zambia who were so expectant of him.

The best that he has done in response is to hide within the walls of State House.

However, it would be wise for him to re-emerge from his cocoon and deliver to the people that which he promised.

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