By Henry Kyambalesa
In Zambia, it is not uncommon for a political party that is in power to engage in stale and rehearsed political campaigns designed to secure another term of office. Currently, such a political party is the Patriotic Front (PF). Among other things, the party and its leaders have started, or are likely to start, making the following claims:
First, that voters should not experiment with leadership. Unfortunately, some of the current crop of government leaders are deadwood and, therefore, do not hold the key to Zambia’s future. Besides, nobody is born a leader.
In other words, elements of leadership are not born out of the innate or spontaneous attributes of human nature because, as studies of child precocity and personality development have concluded, all human beings are born with a blank slate of mind—a mind that is devoid of the concepts or constructs that reflect the values, attitudes, and behaviours we all tend to ultimately exhibit.
Moreover, of what use is a political party that has failed to address the socioeconomic problems and crises facing our country and its people after having been in power for 10 uninterrupted years—problems and crises which include high levels of poverty and inequality, declining gross domestic product (GDP), unsustainable levels of externally secured debts, and worsening corruption ranking by Transparency International (TI), among numerous other socioeconomic problems and crises?
So, rather than make socioeconomic conditions in the country better than they found them, PF officials have instead made them worse. Unfortunately, some of our fellow citizens will parade themselves on August 12, 2021, to reward such officials and their political party with another term of office without even thinking about the socioeconomic hardships they have endured over the last 10 years—hardships which will continue to haunt them over the next 5 years if the ruling political party is granted another term of office.
Second, that they need more time to complete ongoing development projects and programmes. However, the people expect that any new Republican president would be obliged to adopt and implement projects and programmes initiated by previous administrations which are designed to benefit communities nationwide. And this is the way the government has been administered in Zambia thus far, and it is the only way in which all democratic countries worldwide are administered as a matter of fact!
Besides, there is a need to acknowledge the fact that most of the ongoing development projects and programmes at any given time were started before the ruling political party assumed the instruments of power, and are partly or wholly financed by multilateral institutions, and/or bilateral cooperating partners like Canada (CIDA), China, Denmark (DANIDA), France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan (JICA), The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden (SIDA), the United Kingdom (DFID / FCDO), and the USA (USAID).
Third, that voters should not vote for presidential candidates from political parties which do not have a majority in Parliament because they will not be able to pass new laws. Well, any new Republican president should be able to run the country with existing laws, even enact some essential pieces of legislation which are likely to garner the support of the majority of Members of Parliament.
Fourth, that voters should not vote for presidential candidates from political parties which do not have a majority in Parliament because such candidates will have problems in the appointment of government Ministers, since the Republican Constitution (Amendment) of 2016 requires that such Ministers be appointed from elected Members of Parliament.
Well, a president-elect who wishes to trim the current bloated government to fewer Cabinet-level portfolios would not be encumbered by this; he or she would nominate 8 deserving citizens to Parliament and appoint them as government Ministers, and then figure out how to fill any remaining Cabinet-level portfolios—possibly by “poaching” a few MPs from other political parties.
With respect to Provincial Ministers, we need to provide for the administration of provinces by elected governors rather than by Provincial Ministers.
Fifth, that voters should vote for Parliamentary candidates fielded by the ruling political party because such candidates will have ready access to funding. Well, all MPs have access to Constituency Development Funds regardless of the political parties they belong to, and any additional funds allocated exclusively to ruling party MPs are not likely to be lawful.
Sixth, that voters should not expect development to take place in their areas if they vote for candidates from opposition political parties. Really? We need leaders who recognise citizens’ right to vote for candidates of their choice without being threatened that their communities will be excluded from the development process if they do not vote for candidates fielded by the ruling political party.
After all, elected political leaders are given the mandate by voters to be in government with the expectation that they would serve all citizens irrespective of their political views, political affiliations, ethnic extraction, religious convictions, and/or who or which political party or alliance they decide to vote for.
Seventh, that one can never become president unless he or she is meant to be. No, in a democratic country like Zambia, an individual can become president through genuine and competitive elections. Only in pseudo democracies and totalitarian states would a citizen become president if he or she is meant to be—that is, through coronation! And
Eighth, that Vision 2030 will bring salvation to Zambia. I doubt it. Such a Vision is going to be a mere dream and an empty political campaign tool if we cannot elect new political players who will immediately and seriously start to address such issues as education and training, public health and sanitation, sustained food security, public infrastructure, decent public housing, corruption and other forms of criminal activity, and meaningful development in rural areas, et cetera.
By the way, sound long-term planning—including Vision 2030—is essential to our country’s future, and to the wellbeing of future generations. However, such planning should be balanced with the needs of our generation because in the long run, to paraphrase economist John Maynard Keynes, we are all going to be dead!
In fact, the “long run” can turn out to be an exceptionally long time indeed! For this reason, there is a need to elect political leaders who have devised a practical schedule for implementing some of their short-term and medium-term policies, projects, and programmes to strike a balance between our needs and expectations, and the needs and expectations of future generations.
Apparently, the Patriotic Front—the ruling political party—and the party’s officials have not even stated their short-term and medium-term policies, projects, and programmes. And they have not provided a schedule for implementing any of their contemplated policies, projects, and programmes.
I understand that the UPND Alliance Media Team will soon make available a schedule for implementing some of the Alliance’s contemplated short-term and medium-term policies, projects, and programmes.
I challenge other political parties which are going to field candidates in the forthcoming elections to do the same so that we can examine the viability and practicability of what they intend to do to improve the livelihoods of the common people if they are given the mandate to form government.
In passing, I wish to extend a brotherly piece of advice to President Edgar C. Lungu to publicly denounce statements by some PF wayward stalwart(s) that Muchinga Province is his “bedroom,” and that they “are always ready to take care of the bedroom, to even kill the cockroaches as well as the rats that enter [the] … bedroom.”
Our country is a unitary State; any member of the Zambian family, therefore, is free to visit, live, work, and/or canvass for votes anywhere within its boundaries—including Muchinga Province. The late Mr. Michael C. Sata, former Republican president, did not demarcate Northern Province to create Muchinga Province as a “bedroom” for any individual or political party.