At Zambia Reports, we have, now and again, cautioned the nation against falling prey to fads and group think. Contrary to assertions that we are a paid up publication for the Patriotic Front, we have chosen to only do that which is right for an ordinary child in rural Zambia. What best way can one do this other than by working with the party in power, and lobbying where possible?
News Diggers states that it is their responsibility to caution the electorate not to buy too much into the campaign promises that are now being churned out. If Bally becomes President next year, he will not fix it. He may fix some things and get started on the course of economic recovery, but he does not have sufficient magical powers to turn this country around from its current dive with the mere pronouncement of his election victory.
“Not Harry Kalaba, not Chishimba Kambwili, not Nevers Mumba, not Andyford Banda, not Edith Nawakwi will fix this country. Not even Barack Obama can claim to have the overnight solution to our current crisis. Whoever becomes President next year must understand that they are taking over an extensively damaged country that will take a long time to fix. Be it Adada himself, Chitalu Chilufya, Bwalya Ng’andu or any other PF candidate, there is a mountain to climb ahead of us. In fact, whoever will succeed to fix Zambia will need to make very unpopular and harsh decisions,” read in part the editorial.
The editorial continued, “When the UPND and its supporters say Bally will pay back the loans, it will be foolish for anyone to expect that he will pay from his pocket. It’s also just as foolish to expect that he will succeed to have all the loans cancelled. So, where will the money come from to pay? We need to ask. It’s either the new president will have to borrow more and refinance the loans or more taxes from citizens and companies will be demanded to expand the national revenue base. There is also a possibility that the new president may consider removing all remaining subsidies for essential commodities in order to reduce the strain on the treasury. One way or another, people will be called to sacrifice for the good of economic recovery.”
We are glad that this has come from News Diggers, a publication that has, on several occasions, tried to push up the image of the opposition leader. The message in its editorial is what we would like every Zambian to realise. In the absence of a verifiable alternative development plan that should render the current one obsolete, it has dawned on many that Mr. Hichilema is not ready for the presidency or at least based on his message so far.
Saying he will deliver laptops to every primary school within 100 days of taking office does not constitute a development plan because a plan would say how the said laptops would be procured, how much they would cost, where the money would come from, etc. Basically, a plan would prove that Mr. Hichilema and his team have thought through what’s in their manifesto on education in terms of equipment such as laptops.
There are no silver bullets. When he tells you he will pay for his election promises by stopping corruption or recovering previously stolen money, but he is short of telling you how he will stop the said corruption or recover the said stolen loot, or even how much he expects to raise by stopping corruption or recovering stolen money within a specific timeframe, it means he does not have a plan. Let’s learn to demand specifics. Take anything you are told with a healthy pinch of salt.
We have equally heard from certain quarters the issue of integrity. Integrity alone is not enough. Anyone who tells you to vote for them simply because they have integrity but have no concrete plan for delivering on their visions is hoodwinking you. Integrity is important, but it is no substitute for thinking. How many times have we voted for the cream of civil society and religious leaders, people with proven records of integrity, only for them to change once in office?
The 2021 General Elections are not just about what Mr. Hichilema wants to achieve or do politically. He is in the habit of thinking of himself as the “leader”, but he really must see himself as a representative whose job is not to lord it over you but rather to represent your aspirations. He has on several occasions asked your MPs not to represent you in Parliament because doing so would disadvantage him in the coming elections. But do care to remember Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, who during the French Revolution is said to have declared: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”
Consequently, the coming elections should be about what you want and what matters to you. So, what issues would you like to see the government address? How do you want your taxes put to work? What do you see as priorities for the next administration? So as he discusses his fixes, examine them carefully whether they come with solid plans not wooly promises.
The 2016 elections, for instance, when Mr. Hichilema lost, were not supposed to end there and then and wait for the 2021 elections. Your continued participation after the elections, the ability to hold the Patriotic Front to account as well as contribute to and shape the decisions that affect your life and that of your family, through your area Member of Parliament, should have been the stuff of democracy you should have prioritised. So, critically think about the purpose of Mr. Hichilema’s insinuations that if you are unhappy with the way the Edgar Lungu led PF Government is behaving or with its policies it has implemented, you must wait for the 2021 General Elections to do anything about it. If you partipate, you would understand what is going on and he does not want that.
This is where our call for a new governance system that must prioritize development over political hegemony comes in. It questions the rationale behind the current political system that promises what it cannot deliver and focuses on the needs of politicians instead of those of the voters. It’s about power and not the plight of an ordinary child in rural Zambia. But remember, it’s not the change of government that defines democracy but rather the participation in power by the people and in traditional Africa where we value cooperation and consensus, it should be a system that promotes integration and equality among our people and a strong sense of community based on equal access to a variety of social goods such as education, employment, housing, and political rights.
Open your eyes and ask yourself whether it’s true President Edgar Lungu and his government have done NOTHING.
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