It is becoming an all too familiar refrain for those in authority to abuse their power and expect that the society will remain indifferent and the victims too traumatized to speak out or seek recompense.
It is one thing to use authority to victimize innocent individuals and another to then humiliate them into rectifying the wrong doing.
We are referring to the issue of deported father Viateur Banyangandora who was unceremoniously bundled into police vehicles by unknown people who later turned out to be state agents. They literally abducted him from Lundazi to Lusaka and then he was deported. The only ostensible reason for the deportation was that he spoke for the people. At the time however, the government gave all manner of excuses bordering on n suggesting that the priest was a contagious spy and foreign plant with a mission to destabilize the country.
As it turns out those reasons were far from being true. They were a total fabrication because Fr. Banyangandora has been in Zambia for more than 20 years. He was well known in the community and therefore empathized with the plight of the suffering of the ordinary peasant farmer. He was in fact deported after a sermon that was critical of the government. for this he paid the ultimate price.
And now to add insult to injury Fr. Banyangandora who has been allowed to return cannot do so because his passport was endorsed as prohibited immigrant.
He must therefore secure another passport without that appellation. This is the absolute limit of logic. That stamp found its way into his passport through insensitive and over zealous government action. It is certainly wrong and an insult to ask him to pay and suffer additional inconvenience for a passport whose validity has been compromised by government action. Instead of apologizing and erasing the endorsement he must now seek a new passport.
Two things emerge from this government indiscretion.
Firstly the fear of criticism is becoming worse by the day. Instead of dealing with the content and substance of the criticism the government targets the individuals and seeks to silence them while failing to take remedial measures to rectify the omission.
The priest was correct in his criticism. It was wrong to leave cotton farmers to their devices when the market had failed them. The government has a duty to find a means of supporting the farmers and hopefully as promised by minister of agriculture a price stabilization mechanism will be implemented sooner rather than later.
Secondly the deportation shows that there was very little thought about the outcome and fall out as a result of deporting an innocent clergyman undertaking his duty and ministry.
The insensitivity of government is becoming more and more apparent as it appears totally incapable of responding to critical national issues that demand for urgent action.
When we started talking about the maize situation in the country, we were blamed as being alarmist and ignorant. What has since transpired vindicates us but we have no wish to gloat because the issues concerned are too serious to be trivialized into a sentimental issue.
Suffice to state that we are not yet out of the woods with maize marketing supply and storage. We are yet to see the full extent of mismanagement at the current stocks dwindle.
Our advice to government is to become a listening institution that will put integrity at the fore and work towards instituting mechanisms that service the best wishes and interest of the people. After all the voice of god is the voice of the people. We ignore the people’s voice at our own peril.