Petty vindictiveness

The outrage expressed by Solwezi Central Member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa against petty vindictiveness exhibited by Government is a growing and very potent universal perception Zambians are gaining of the leadership.

The gulf and subsequent breakdown in the levels of confidence between Government and citizenry is growing by the day. Instead of acknowledging this worrying development the Government appears at best insular and indifferent.

Such is the government’s attitude to the constitution making process. The Minister of Justice who also happens to be the PF Secretary General has seemingly scoffed at civil society efforts to create benchmarks for the proposed constitution.

It is very important for Government to take account of public sentiment in whatever manner it is expressed, because it represents a cogent viewpoint of both perception and reality of any given situation.

It is a reality that perception is just as strong if not stronger than reality. Often times therefore even the best of Government policy can very easily be misunderstood if they are perceived to be inimical to public interest.

There is a perception growing that Government is more inclined to engage in barren petty debate over inconsequential matters than deal with matters of national concern and interest.

Such is the case in the current debate on subsidies which the Government is determined to drive by a very concerted effort of propaganda involving all the Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

The truth of the matter is that it is very difficult to explain the concept of subsidy to villagers and rural dwellers in general who are at the very tail end of the economic structure, and do not therefore benefit directly, compared to the urban dwellers to whom subsidies translate into the price of mealie meal.

The removal of the mealie meal subsidy has a direct effect on the urban dweller that must now pay more compared to the rural dweller that has no such benefit.

Equally it is difficult to explain the non existent fuel subsidy to the rural dweller who does not drive but who will experience an increase in the price of transport.

Equally the debate on the removal of subsidy from the farming community has hit a discordant note with the contradictory statements over most of the major issues.

Are farmers going to be subsidized or not? If they are at what level are they to be subsidized is it at last years rate or will they be excepted to pay Kr100 or will the farmers be expected to barter their maize as proposed by the Minister of Agriculture.

The Farmers Union has made it self patently clear by suggesting that the proposal for bartering maize is unrealistic and unworkable. They ought to know better because they are in the field unlike the mandarins who work of the basis of abstract and often outdated data.

The Government has to get closer to the people, establish a rapport and create confidence if it is to be a partner in real development that goes beyond rhetoric.

Our efforts to obtain information on why Government paid US$500million for fuel that should have cost US$200million has been met with stone walling.

The matter will not die away. We shall continue to search for the truth.