It’s just fair to assume that the Opposition Alliance was formed to displace the Patriotic Front promising to be a better government without stating how. I have always argued that you can’t change any government in a democratic state by simply fighting it but rather by drawing the attention of the majority voters to an alternative development agenda that should render the existing one obsolete. The Alliance failed to grow because it was a club of politicians who were more after the position of Head of State than they were after addressing the plight of an ordinary child in rural Zambia.
Is it not mind blowing that the head of the Alliance would say “Zambia needs unity of purpose in the fight against the biased application of the law as regards to the various freedoms enshrined in the Constitution” and yet the same leader campaigned against a progressive enhanced Bill of Rights which would have moved the nation towards the same freedoms he wishes to discuss in the Alliance simply to achieve one’s elusive dream of becoming Head of State? Before you go on, please take a closer look at the photo I have attached and think for a moment whether any human being deserves such a life in Zambia and yet when government tries to invest in infrastructure development, one can only discuss corruption allegations. Why don’t we allow government to initiate poverty alleviation programmes while we seriously ensure accountability NOW instead of lying to the general public that only we can develop Zambia after 2021 General Elections? Will the child in the picture be there in 2021 or 2026 should the opposition lose?
The Alliance should have been created to offer Zambians a new direction for a better future not merely to fight the Patriotic Front for the sake of it. It is an undeniable fact that, in terms of infrastructure development, the Patriotic Front government has changed the face of Zambia in a very short period of time in comparison to what was achieved under the 20 year reign of the MMD. Almost all of the negatives about the PF can be attributed to Zambia’s weak institutions which has allowed pilferage not necessarily by political leaders but mostly civil servants during the procurement process of the said infrastructure projects. This is why, what the Alliance should have focused on was our institutions autonomy in the manner they operate and not calls for regime change in the absence of why people must vote for the Alliance. If institutions remain the same, any new government, whether it’s the Alliance or a totally new one, will achieve very little in terms of real growth, FACT.
The current infrastructure achievement by the PF must form a strong foundation for any economic development agenda by any party including the PF itself. We must, therefore, take advantage of this foundation before the infrastructure crumbles again. For instance, maintaining and improving on it will require an autonomous and transparent Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA), not a new powerful man in State HOUSE dictating how the ZPPA must operate and who must get what contract. What we ought to understand is that while it’s true that we need a visionary person with strong leadership skills as President, autonomous institutions would make it difficult for him or her to abuse one’s position.
There is an urgent need to change the current political model and narrative. The PF, for instance, must focus on implementing its manifesto and not selling President Edgar Lungu. It’s the PF’s ability to realise an equitable Zambia that will make people vote for it in 2021 and not the beautiful words of praise for its party president, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. This is not to say we should not appreciate his efforts. It’s about what the party can do and not what one man can do. The issue of names should be an intra party affair.
The change we want instilled in a new Zambia, post 2021 General Elections, is one where we should see the Democratic Party discussing more of its manifesto than its candidate, the former BAHATI PF lawmaker Hon. Harry Kalaba. For instance, if you were to ask anyone what they think the UPND promises to give the people of Zambia, chances are the answer would be, “Hakainde Hichilema!” But is it true that what Zambia needs is Mr. Hichilema, Mr. Kalaba, Dr. Kambwili or Dr. Lungu? Absolutely not. It’s the UPND that needs Mr. Hichilema to drive the UPND development agenda that it (UPND) needs the people of Zambia to buy into come 2021. Equally, it should only be the PF that must need the services of Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu while Zambians on the other hand simply expect him to deliver. People must vote for President Edgar Lungu or Mr. Hichilema solely based on their party manifestos, whether they are worth being presidents is purely an intra party issue which should be resolved at their respective conventions.
With strong institutions in place and political parties discussing and selling their development agendas as opposed to focusing on party presidents, any party can give us a frog of a president, Zambia will still remain on its tracks. We need to move away from living at the mercy of a Head of State which has led to the current situation of having some scrupulous and untouchable characters in the civil services because investigative wings of government don’t know whose toes they may be stepping on should they act. Let’s focus on what people need and not what some political losers somewhere want.
We ought to be more concerned about what is good for Zambia before we think about what is good for the party. If Hon. Harry Kalaba’s party will ensure a better implemented Universal Health Care programme that the Edgar Lungu led PF Government has embarked on, why should it upset the PF, the initiators of the service? After all, patriotism must be to the Constitution and the welfare of the people it seeks to protect. And as I have always said, politics should not be a self preservation system but a vehicle for development whose primary beneficiary must be an ordinary citizen. It’s my view, consequently, that politics should be driven by the act of society working together through processes that seek to address issues meaningfully rather than politically driven by parties that confound or compromise to serve self interests.
You can’t develop a nation with the current status quo. If you have noticed, it’s with the same mentality of self preservation as a party and not the desire to develop the country that the opposition has failed to participate in anything promising development in the country. They have, so far, campaigned against an enhanced Bill of Rights, the Constitution Amendment Bills, the National Health Insurance Bill, to name but a few. Let’s agree, then, that much as this may be more pronounced in some quarters, it shows the failure of our political system. And so, when you see Hon. Harry Kalaba resigning to become Head of State at the expense of his much needed professional services at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the PF hounding Hon. Chishimba Kambwili out of the party because of his political ambitions, you need to realise that Zambia’s underdevelopment is woven in the very fabric we tend to see as untainted; our pretence on the true purpose of the political system we have in place.
We need to rethink our political landscape where the plight of an ordinary Zambian, in the attached photo, spearheads the dispensation of democracy in both intraparty and interparty politics. To illustrate this, let’s assume we abolished presidential elections, leaving parties with majority seats to send and recall the president, all of a sudden, our perception of elections and motivation to vote drastically changes because our politics shifts to being issue based and not centred on whether it’s KBF, Bally or CK on the ballot paper but what the UPND through its representatives promises to do.
We have to accept that today the problem is not President Edgar Lungu but that we have all just been betrayed by the political system that is driven much more by preserving self interests than its ability to address the core underlying issues that have perpetrated underdevelopment. It’s for this reason that I seek to push henceforth for the need for a new governance system that must prioritize development over political hegemony. The “what can I do about it” attitude, achieves more results than the “something must be done about it” One. Let’s get to the round table and debate.
Allow me to touch another key area. Zambia is where it is today because of poor leadership. When I speak of poor leadership, an average mind will assume I am referring to the current and previous Heads of State and their senior government officials. To the contrary, leadership is required in every facet of our lives. It can be at home, church, school, place of work, etc. We have too many people in the country who believe having access to power is more important than discussing responsibility and being of service. It’s a fallacy. Leadership is about responsibility and less about power and money. Before I go any further, think about some icons who have managed to change the course of this world and yet they were not Heads of State but great leaders; Mahatma Gandhi of India, Steve Biko of South Africa, Martin Luther King Jr of the USA, etc.
A huge benefit of preaching responsibility right in our own houses is that it spreads our influence into the darker recesses of the country. Leadership forces us to seek responsibility because many times these responsibilities come in the form of larger roles, bettering areas which were underperforming. The growth and advancement of both citizens and the country as a whole are embodied in this leadership principle.
It is reassuring to read about how the Ministry of Health has embarked on a transformational agenda, promoting its new health paradigm shift ensuring that the interface with which people have with the health sector is no longer the hospital bed but right in our homes, based on proactive preventive information dissemination urging us to embark on routine exercise, ensuring a healthy eating lifestyle, developing and maintaining hygienic behaviours, etc. We need behavioural change for Zambia to develop. We need education and institutional reforms. We need MPs who represent their people not their party presidents. We need people who work more than they talk, people who vote based on issues and not tribe or region.
There is an urgent need for a new governance system that must prioritize development over political hegemony. If you share my views, please feel free to share with me your feedback on the issues I raise.
Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
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