STATEMENT ON THE PATRIOTIC PARTY (PF) PERFORMANCE THUS FAR:
BY BRIGADIER GENERAL GODFREY MIYANDA
The first twelve months of the PF in Government provide good material for assessing a regime that came in on an incredible wave of presumed popularity, because the debate comes at the advent of the independence celebrations, a time when we recall the reason for the struggle and hoping to recommit ourselves to the unity of all our peoples.
In reviewing the first steps of the PF this is what has to be assessed. It is our independence and unity that has to be guarded, protected and defended. This analysis is premised on this in order to see to what extent the PF has helped our young democracy to remain united and remain a beacon of hope for all its peoples.
The PF leadership must swallow its pride and begin to realise that modern Government cannot be run as a private or sole -trading entity or as a family farm! Further, Zambians must refrain from using partisan spectacles to debate national issues as has so far been the case. Additionally it is a relegation of national responsibility for some opposition leaders to want to appear “nice” to the PF regime for whatever reason. The purpose of these analyses must always be to help the Executive benefit from any errors made so that they may make amends.
I disagree that the PF must be given a chance to carry out their mandate. This approach introduces a diversionary angle as it distracts the public from raising the real issue of the ’90 Day ruse’ which achieved its intended purpose but is now disowned by its PF foster parent. This debate is not about hounding the PF out of Government but is one that even PF followers must join in, truthfully bringing out what they feel their leaders have reneged on. In fact it is especially more important for opposition leaders to take an aggressive though not destructive stance to jolt the blubbering PF to wake up and change course. Regrettably some of the opposition leaders seem to want to be seen and heard to be politically correct, in a way that is becoming confusing and ambivalent as one cannot tell whether they are actually opposition or are mere sound boxes for the PF. If all the opposition adopt an unbiased but ‘adversarial’ posture they may well help our Government (NOT PF Government) to change course before it is too late to do so. The issues highlighted in this commentary are those governance acts that are fundamental and eye-catching but that are being swept under the carpet, for ‘diplomatic reasons’.
The PF regime must be assessed on their own promises because such pronouncements result in winning an election. Many voters who do not realise that they have been duped still make choices on the basis of promises made to them. President Sata touted himself as the “Most Experienced” of all the Presidential Candidates in the 2011 elections; he set that standard himself and this is the standard that may help us to gauge how the most experienced supervisor has helped the rest of his juniors below him, almost all of them ‘fresh men and women’, to carry out their obligations.
For starters, President Sata has not addressed the Nation since he took up office on 23rd September 2012. He has avoided addressing the Zambian people directly to guide the nation during his first days on duty. His silence has created fertile ground for speculations. For instance the rumpus that followed the recruitment of soldiers into the Defence Force led to serious allegations not just of corruption but that the PF party recruited into the military those on pre-determined lists of PF members. There are even allegations that there is a parallel security system juxtaposed between the PF’s party security (as happened during MMD early days) and the official Defence and Security systems. If this be so it is dangerous (rememberBiafra). But what is the truth? We do not know because the Captain of the Boat has refused to address us, though he found time to travel to address the United Nations.
President Sata regularly lambasted President Banda’s travels within and outsideZambia. Yet the First Lady has made so many trips in the few months of the regime that may have surpassed that of the President and those who are employees of the State. President Sata’s uncharacteristic silence has led to speculation about the humanitarian activities of the First Lady because of their frequency and regularity. Without disparaging our latest Mother of the Nation, Zambians should ask and expect to get answers to the following: what are the specific duties that the First Lady is carrying out and is this a full time occupation? What is the budget line for those activities? Who or what institution is financing her trips? Is it State House, Ministry of Health or the University Teaching Hospital (UTH)? Is she travelling as a UTH or State House Doctor? To which department does she belong and to whom does she report? What is now the status of her substantive duties at the UTH as a doctor? Et cetera, et cetera. The Speaker’s ruling on a point of order has NOT put the matter to rest because it did not tackle the foregoing serious questions which go beyond the point of order.
The now ‘vibrant government media’ is making a positive mountain of her activities. Do we see the hand of the President in this affair? Are we being prepared for a time when the PF will officially introduce the Office of the First Lady? Should philanthropic activities be the reason for incurring additional costs by a regime that pledged to reduce the cost of running Government? All this runs counter to the PF pledge and calls for public scrutiny and debate.
There is an unprecedented increase in tribalism, regionalism and racism created by and under the PF regime; this is a seed that has taken root partly due to the selective and unplanned so-called “decentralisation”. Our unity has been compromised and this seed may never be completely uprooted. The Post newspaper properly coined the phrase “FamilyForest” for the first time inZambia. They had said in one of their editorials that late President Mwanawasa had a family tree but that President Sata had a family forest! The PF did not respond to The Post allegation but when Presidents Hakainde Hichilema and Charles Milupi said the same thing all hell broke loose and the PF violence machine was set in motion. The silence of the President is deafening and must be questioned today, not five years later as some naive opposition leaders are suggesting, contradicting their own passionate praises of President Sata and the PF. This division of our people must be condemned out rightly even by Bemba-speaking people themselves as it is such manipulation that leads to genocide.
There are indiscriminate dismissals of citizens from Government jobs, more pronounced in the diplomatic service. This secret and vindictive “crush Rupiah Banda’s MMD” policy has created enemies where there should be none.
By reneging on his promise, the President has provided ammunition for theWesternProvinceto demand to secede and has done little to forestall the confrontation. If we are to remain one, and we should, President Sata must dialogue and refrain from gun-boat diplomacy that he is using; such tactics work but only in the short term. This policy has exacerbated the situation inWesternProvince. The populist promises made to restore the Barotseland Agreement purely to get votes are responsible for the present high tension there. Blood has been spilled under President Sata’s watch; I do not recall this happening before apart from the banning of Mundia’s National Party.
I do not subscribe to the 90 day PF fantasy, for I know that development is long term; only naive people believed that election ruse. Unfortunately lies do get votes because people trust their leaders and believe those lies until the leaders are caught with their pants down as is the case now. This is a total PF failure in spite of spirited efforts to cover it up. The failure is not having failed to create jobs in 90 days, but REFUSING TO ADMIT THAT THEY PROMISED MILK AND HONEY IN 90 DAYS!
This dishonest denial was made worse by Vice President Scott declaring in Parliament that the Barotseland Agreement is not in the PF manifesto. So what? The PF President himself made the pledge at a well-attended rally in Mongu, thus putting it in the PF Manifesto by amendment. Why mock the people? A pronouncement of this magnitude by the leader of the PF becomes part of the manifesto, unless the PF Central Committee immediately repudiated it before the people voted, which the Central Committee did not do and hence are part of the grand ‘90-Day deceit’.
These denials are very annoying as they make all of us, including some PF adherents, look stupid, not sufficiently intelligent to understand PF election rhetoric. Imagine the very Vice President Hon Dr Scott standing in Parliament, without blushing and in full view of the aggrieved people of the WesternProvince, denying making the promise! The PF leaders seem to forget about modern technology that enables citizens to keep pace with their leaders and most of the time being far ahead of them. Zambians have camera phones, VCRs, DVDs, CDs, secret recording devices all packed with original recordings of the PF boat and its ubiquitous coxswain now hardly heard or seen in Zambia. The PF leadership is guilty for not admitting what needs to be admitted and for not apologising where there was need to do so at least by the PF Presidential Candidate now President of Zambia.
The levels of intolerance are unprecedented and have appeared rather too early in the PF journey; usually this may happen after a few years in office. Intolerance led to the creation of the One Party State in 1972: intolerance means nobody coughs; it means sub-standard decisions that are never challenged; it results in preventing and suppressing ideas, then using them later after people have forgotten about who initiated them and later execute them as their own innovations (the Heritage Party’s manifestos since 2001 to 2011 reveal a progressive and ambitious plan of OPENING UP ZAMBIA THROUGH DEVELOPMENT CORRIDORS THAT HAS NOW COME AS THE PF’S “LINK ZAMBIA IN 2012″, abruptly launched with fanfare but without a budget!)
In less than 90 days we witnessed dictatorial and totalitarian conduct. The judiciary were not spared; the deportation of a priest for carrying out his pastoral duty crowns the twelve month hell in Zambia. It is as though the PF think that they carried out a revolution and hence must uproot all and sundry. This approach is creating instability in institutions as well as in individual citizens except those close to the powers that be but this is NOT the way to go in a declared democracy.
There have been contentious and questionable appointments for a government that has declared corruption as Number One Enemy. Wholesale dismissals of civil servants and recalls of diplomats are the order of the day, without due regard to the impact on families so affected, and actually contributing to increased joblessness. This has set the stage for retribution by a future regime.
There has been an abuse of the system of Commissions, a method of work that must surely be the exception rather than the rule.
The President has established the bad practice of rebuking Defence and Security Service Chiefs in public. One such incident occurred at a Passing out or Commissioning Parade of young officer cadets at Kohima Barracks within hearing of the newly Commissioned Officers. One of the most sacrosanct of traditions of the Services is high regard for the hierarchy, right up to the Commander-In- Chief himself; it is this that keeps oiling the Defence and Security disciplinary machinery. The President may have succeeded only in making the young officers look down on their superiors. Later the President was to repeat the same thing, by shouting orders at the new Inspector General (IG) Libongani at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus. Someone reported something to him; he went to the podium and shouted “Stella, go and sort out Nevers Mumba’s MMD cadres wearing Don’t Kutina T-shirts!” But there were also PF cadres in PF T-shirts. The IG, as a disciplined officer, obeyed the President, but that was a wrong directive because the IG is the one who should have decided how to handle the matter which was several ranks below her office!
To crown it all, under the PF regime we have noticed that a Permanent Secretary issued contrary operational instructions on police activities! Recently Commissioner of Police Dr Solomon Jere, a learned Police Officer, gave instructions to stop political party cadres wearing party uniforms at funerals. The day before the burial of Mama Betty Kaunda, the message was re-broadcast on the ZNBC as a continuing reminder. But immediately after that item was read, there came a late news item loudly stating that the Permanent Secretary (PS) of Home Affairs had ordered that cadres must wear their party uniforms! No PS has authority neither to issue operational directives nor to countermand them; this is unheard of (may be it was actually the President directing from theUSA). Under this PF style there is nothing to stop other PS’s to cancel operational orders by Service Chiefs or field commanders. This is dangerous and a recipe for chaos in the discipline and security system.
There is inconsistency in policy pronouncements. There was an election pledge to expel the Chinese fromZambia, which many suffering Zambians believed and voted for the PF (not that I support such hate statements). After winning the election President Sata quickly took over the Chinese from the MMD in unexplained circumstances. We are entitled to speculate that the very honey that President Sata alleged was being enjoyed by the MMD as their reason for aligning themselves to the Chinese was now being gulped by the PF!
The timing of the introduction of the registration of sim-cards is highly suspect and must be reversed forthwith or suspended. Before implementation the proposal must be subjected to public debate in order for the real promoters of this policy to justify their intentions. The plan has a tendency to compromise privacy and hence makes the relevant constitutional safeguard on privacy moribund. Additionally, with the selectiveness and vindictiveness that has manifested under the PF regime, business opportunities will be in jeopardy because of the selective manner in which the first 90 days were carried out. Company secrets will not be safe; even court matters will not be spared, with the confirmation of Government acquisition of listening devices (as given in evidence in court) having a range of about 400 kilometres from the centre. This beats even George Orwell’s prophetic book titled “1984” but written sometime in 1949!
It is disconcerting that at this same time the President has declared that there is nothing wrong with the Public Order Act – when combined with the sim-card scheme this is an ominous declaration! Has the President really read the Public Order Act and the ratio in the Mulundika judgment by the then Chief Justice Ngulube? If the PF does not rescind or suspend the sim-card exercise I would personally advocate for a class action in court so that many citizens join as litigants to stop this unjustified erosion of our constitutional rights. This scheme must not be implemented; but if it has to be, then certainly not under the presidency of President Sata!
And then the constitution-making process: this is not even worth writing about as it is clearly partisan, is manipulated, is compromised, lacks credibility and above all has no legal backing – in short it is a waste of time and public funds.
Intimidation and threats are the hallmark of President Sata’s 90 days in office. Threats against judges; against political opponents; even against chiefs with promises to create new paramount chiefs. All these are election gimmicks in the first twelve months that the PF must stir clear from. The days of Shaka Zulu, Hitler, Idi Amin are gone. The sooner PF wakes up the easier or smoother will their remaining days on duty be.
The address to Parliament was a dismal flop and has set a bad precedent that must not be emulated by future Presidents. Hon Kaingu was right to tear the paper because the President did NOT read the speech in Parliament. We saw him speaking off the cuff and incoherently passing over papers as though he had read them. He was directly engaging the MPs in debate, thus encouraging them to interject, contrary to the practice and custom of the House that emphasises proper decorum. He has been a Parliamentarian and hence ought to know better. The so-called humour or joke about Hon Fackson Shamenda’s first name was completely out of Order and should have been so ruled, except perhaps for the Speaker’s respect for the Office of President. MPs should have boycotted debating a speech that was not delivered in Parliament; if anything all of them should have emulated Hon Kaingu who should never have apologised for tearing it up. It is reported that when angry, Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoes on the table at the UN during an address; here at home Mama Julia Chikamoneka undressed in public, a criminal offence, yet the British Government were so mesmerised by this type of display that they later succumbed to the pressure from Zambians. PF should have admitted that the President squandered an opportunity to set a proper direction for the nation but used the occasion to make “X certificate jokes”! Thus the first “90 days/12 months” have been a joke as there was a failure of the PF leadership to steer their boat properly and help to preserve our unity and sovereignty.
Last but not least, as a result of the foregoing I call upon President Sata to urgently address the Nation, live on television and radio. This address must involve serious public participation. The President’s opening or keynote statement should be about an hour or so, followed by questions from the public for at least two hours; no tricks or sabotage of phone lines not working or pre-determined favoured callers and sms’s. He travelled to and addressed the United Nations forum; he must now face WE THE PEOPLE!
[15th October 2012]