The requirement to keep one’s promises is ubiquitous; all societies, in one way or the other, demand this virtue of their members.
The Bible in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says:
“Pay what you promise. It is better that you should not promise than that you should promise and not pay.”
The Tonga in a proverb say: “Mucheenge ng’ombe muchete ataoni”
It is clear that all societies demand an amount of honesty and commitment to fulfil one’s promises. Failure to keep ones’ promises creates disharmony in a society; it is a vice which everyone frowns upon.
In view of this virtuous demand, it thus follows that man must never fall for the temptation of promising that which he fully knows he cannot deliver. One should never promise a cow when he knows that all he can deliver is a sorry goat. Even the defence of honest intention is never enough an excuse to exaggerate one’s capabilities.
This noble requirement to fulfil promises is even greater on those who wield power over others; those who time and chance has given the honourable opportunity to superintend over national affairs as either members of parliament, ministers, presidents or councillors.
Where this honesty to keep promises lacks, a society among other things, faces the threat of debilitating strike actions by its workforce. This is what is happening in Zambia today.
On Tuesday, it was Livingstone City Council workers downing tools over unfulfilled salary hike promises. Yesterday the inferno spread to Western Province where nurses also downed tools over salaries.
These protesting public workers are the people the party in government today, like the Raven in George Orwell’s literary masterpiece Animal Farm, promised sugar-candy mountain; bliss beyond measure. Despite these great promises, the party has so far only delivered a desert of squalor.
Nurses were promised 200 per cent salary increments but all they have got is less than 15 per cent; council workers were told they would be paid by central government but they are now being told to raise their own revenue. Dare we mention that the prices of everyday commodities have increased fourfold?
So, who shall we blame if tomorrow our mothers go the hospital and have to deliver in the corridors because our nurses have not reported for duty; if tomorrow our roads are littered with road kill because our council workers are on strike?
The Patriotic Front government must give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.
If they promised a 200 per cent salary increment, a promise which we have never heard even governments of the biggest economies globally make, may they give the poor worker that. Hiding through mathematical gymnastics will not fool workers. Which worker is so gullible that he will accept that a K200 on his K2,300 salary represents a 200 per cent increase?
Let us create an honourable society, a society in which we keep our promises.