If there is anything President Michael Sata will be best remembered for, his campaign promises of 2011 will perhaps top the memories. Aside from the colourful politician he was, the comic character he displayed in private and at public fora, President Sata made so many promises – most of them that turned out to be lies – to get to State House. Sadly, his handlers and to an extent himself lied until the day his life expired. A trip down the memory lane of his promises:
1. A New Constitution within 90 days: He attempted to set-up a committee that came up with a draft document he seemingly rubbished and threw through the window even making fun of those that called for a “people driven constitution”. Where have you seen an “animal driven constitution”. He was later to call constitution advocates “yappers”.
2. The Public Order Act: Using this archaic law he so passionately denounced when in opposition, President Sata fell in love with that same piece of legislation. After he himself endured pockets of police harassment, he turned the wheels against those he left on the other side. For the first time since Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s rule, opposition leaders were arrested for meeting chiefs, constituents and even ordinary meetings by individuals with an alternative voice were suspected to be plotting against president Sata. Zambia was turning from a democracy to an authoritarian state.
3. The NGO Act/Access to Information Bill: He traversed the country and was joined by an army of a consortium of Civil Society Organisations including media bodies. He promised liberalisation of the airwaves but the story following an end if a chapter to his life is perhaps worse than he found it. The media ratings record show so. The NGO Act is now in force and a PF weapon to eliminate those critical of government.
4. Barotseland Agreement: In reports captured by then Muvi TV reporter Paul Shalala (now at ZNBC) and then Post Newspaper journalist George Chellah (now out-going State House spokesperson), Sata emphatically promised the Lozis he will honour the Barotseland Agreement which in essence advocates secession. They bought into this promise and delivered Inonge Wina and Nathaniel Mubukwanu. He is no more with the Barotselan issue more thorny than any other time.
5. From Man of the People to Camera Shy: In opposition, he made every radio station booth in the country his living room. If he was not featuring in studio live programs, he competed with Mr Proud of Garden or Mr Imbuwa Imbuwa of Chilenje to call in and have his voice heard. In State House, he became camera shy that the issues he so eloquently addressed as opposition leader became strange to him to an extent that he refused to hold any form of press conference.
6: More Money in Your Pockets, Lower Taxes: You wish. Mealie mealie, electricity tariffs, fuel prices, bus fares all sky-rocketed sending the cost of living to an all time high. Although civil servants received wage increments, they were to be subjected to a wage freeze and employment freeze. When commodities and the cost of living is high, there is very little to keep in the pockets and the mantra change from “More Money” to “No Money” in the pockets.
7: International Relations: Instead of forging allies; he was distancing Zambia with his undiplomatic style of doing business and often was a scary moment to hear he had travelled for a meeting abroad.
8: Wasteful Expenditure: Instead of concentrating on the development he promised, his pre-occupation was to poaching opposition MPs and created unprecedented by-elections which robbed the treasury of millions and millions of dollars.
9: Family Forest/Family Tree: A stern critic of Levy Mwanawasa’s alleged “family tree”, he went a notch cultivating the “shrub of relatives the 3rd President gathered” to putting together a “forest of family members” to run government affairs. Members of his family are now fighting to succeed him.
10: Donchi Kubeba!!! It is probably the worst political mantra to have graced Zambian politics. He Donchi kubebad his way to Plot One, his 3 years at the helm was characterised by Donchi Kubeba. Even when his time for the journey to the other world, he was using donchi kubeba. He said the day “I will die even an ant would know”, a typical way of transmitting the donchi kubeba message. Simply put, it was a Presidency of Liars, for Liars and Liars.