Polluting our institutions

Clearly, principles cannot be part of any feeding menu, but they are so essential in maintaining the relevance of our institutions. I make this statement against a background of acrimony, senseless politicking and jostling for power at the expense of fundamentals of existence, such as common sense.

Let’s talk about the long road in the constitutional making process: Ninety (90) days may have been too ambitious a promise by the Patriotic Front (PF), then in opposition and now facing the realities of governance, wherein law reform, is just one among the many that a government must attend to.

I am able to understand and appreciate the stance taken by the United Party for National Development (UPND) as demonstrated in the worrisome voting pattern in the House.

It is in line with what has happened now and in the past. In the same breath, I would have been extremely shocked if the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) had taken a hard or indeed an unreasonable stance in voting for the Constitution.

The MMD President has confirmed that indeed, the party rendered its support to a process currently being managed by the Patriotic Front, as a way of finishing the business it began when it was in government, under President Rupiah Banda. It is Zambia, which wins under the leadership of the Patriotic Front.

It is a fact, notwithstanding views and perceptions (facts are stubborn), that the Constitution making process made significant progress when, then Minister of Justice, now Republican President, His Excellence Edgar Chagwa Lungu, committed.

The draft as he promised was circulated widely, in my view marking the start of a process that would radically change the political history of Zambia.

The performance of Minister Lungu then, was markedly in sharp contrast to his Predecessor the former Secretary General of the Patriotic Front and now Secretary General of an opposition Party.

The dismissed SG’s hostile views on the process are well documented. In my view, the pattern and difference in style of leadership is evident. One, associated with the current Presidency, is covered in humility and realism, while the other flashes terror and is alleged to be a symbol of a dictatorship in the making.

Let the country not be worried about the many detractors and those who stand to “benefit” from a failed process.

Fact is, all participated and whether such participation is positive or negative cannot take away from the fact of participation. In a democracy, the majority wins and there can be no real contest when the margins scored respectively are miles apart.

Over a hundred votes in favor of progress when compared with less than forty votes against progress. Posterity, will soon pass its judgment in favor of progress.

In basic civics or social studies for secondary pupils, what happened in Parliament last week was democracy at work.

Choices were made and having won the parliamentary round, it is now up to all Zambians to impress on President Edgar C. Lungu to do his part so that we may have another constitution as we await results of a referendum in 2016. ( I really wish I could have an opportunity to engage experts at the Central Statistics Office to have an idea of how questions in the referendum will be crafted!)

What about the acrimony that has characterized the process? Very sad! As far as I know, the constitution being the fundamental Law of the land can neither be owned by any group nor be turned into a hymn book of acrimony. It just does not work that way. I may be perfectly in order for a  Member of Parliament to represent his views on the expectations of people, say Southern Province  (as reported) waiting to “usher in a new government”. There is a defense for such an individual MP but serious challenges to the Nation and Leadership of his party. Members of Parliament are not called honorable for nothing. They are National Leaders.

How can a National Leader, with a potential to hold serious office, take such a narrow view of a National matter?

I say this because I am aware of so many people who trace their origins to Southern Province but do not in any way and howsoever, neither support nor agree with irresponsible statements attributed to political leader(s) in the opposition.

I agree with the Daily Nation opinion that “a government ushered in by Southern Province will be regional and therefore tribally based”.

For avoidance of any doubt, this position, which I doubt is the position of Southern Province, would hold for any other province or indeed person.

As many would attest, there is life outside politics and we should not allow any politician of any description, to hold anybody hostage by fanning misplaced emotionally charged sentiments that offend Zambian unity.

That said, I am painfully aware of the vulture culture, where a statement made by a leader is taken out of context because it suits a particular agenda.

What this means is that it is the duty of every leader to be guarded in their statements, while accepting the basic fact that actions speak louder than words.

It is this postulation and claims of ownership and entitlement that has given rise to many challenges wherein renegade politicians take to the podium and campaign on tribal lines.

This offends the Zambian peace. It offends local and international law. Any campaigns, thoughts, actions, programs, projects and plans with a tribal inclination, have no space whatsoever in our One Zambia, One Nation. If in doubt, ask Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.I have said before and repeat again that extremism or fundamentalists, who mirror the likes of Biafra rebellion, can never help Zambia keep its peace.

Anywhere in the world, fundamentalists thrive on misinformation, disinformation and emotional blackmail.

Unfortunately, Zambia is no exception although I hold a strong view that all our institutions, must ensure that we maintain our brand of peace.

Look at how fundamentalists almost convinced Zambians that the economic woes the country is going through are a creation of the last ten (10) months of the Lungu Presidency!

To narrow the global argument to statements such as but South Africa or Chile or whatever country is not Zambia! Please, accept that we have to deal with imperatives of the global village and the community of nations.

The term “International Trade” is not an accident and the fact that global bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approached the Zambian case with deep understanding and concern, is worth noting with humility. What is more is that the IMF mission is coming back to Zambia next year for all Zambians!

It is just so worrisome that officials of the IMF should care more about Zambia when some Zambian politicians in the opposition, wish and pray for more challenges! The IMF is responding to global dynamics  of business and their concerns reflect the measures that President Edgar Lungu, has unveiled.

I have talked about how a known mining giant abandoned Zambia shortly after President Mwanawasa came to power. Given the fact that this known mining giant is shading off thousands of jobs globally, I am sure if they were still in Zambia, our people could have been affected.

After all, the fortunes of some of these conglomerates can be traced to Zambian raw materials, Zambian sweat and Zambian hospitality. It is reasonable to argue therefore that some mining outfits, as late President Mwanawasa noted are not willing to be all weather friends and can only come to Zambia and be in Zambia either through proxies or by themselves if we allow it. Usually, the formula for a comeback, is by “installing a puppet regime” that is friendly to such a monstrous conglomerate and in effect, the One Zambia, One Nation stance, would be reduced to a mere statement, without meaning.

Going forward, we need to deal decisively with those peddling falsehoods by putting across well reasoned arguments.

We also need to accept the fact that Zambia, is for Zambians to develop. Others will only help and in as far as some conglomerates are concerned, the bottom line is profit. But since these guys work through agents, it is important that we remain vigilant. In reality, it means that our institutions, such as the Zambia Police, the Drug Enforcement Commission, the Anti Corruption Commission and other governance institutions must work for a Smart Zambia. They must be strong enough not to allow ‘pollution’ to facilitate the contamination of systems.  See you next week


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