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The road ahead of us

By Ngande Mwanajiti

IF you have followed political events in Africa intimately, you should look at what has been happening in Zambia, to conclude that negative ego, is a serious national predicament. It affects Freedoms of Expression, Association, Opinion, Assembly and sadly, the political playing field of governance.

You can think, act howsoever but what you do and communicate, must be reasonable and responsible. This is part of the reason for the existence of Laws in general.

But, whatever the case, we need a Smart Zambia to ride on a smooth road, ahead of us. It is in this regard that we must shore up the Presidency of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, as he manages and navigates the sometimes very slippery and treacherous terrain of state craft.

 You must by now realise and agree that in order to achieve what we desire; strong and stable institutions are critical. In this respect and regard, I wish to place on record my condolences to the families of the Police Officers who lost the most precious commodity of life, while serving Zambia.  Please, accept my deep condolences!

I commend Inspector General Kanganja for the pro-active response to the crisis.

Back to our political challenges, it appears to me that most of Africa is facing a uniform problem of weak or weakened institutions.  This is because more often than not, we take into account irrelevant considerations by either refusing or failing to keep the eyes on the ball. We must embrace value over patchiness.

Merit at the moment is not a factor in most of Africa but dreaded.

During the fame days of The University of Zambia (UNZA) all engagements/interactions were based on merit and no other consideration, which I hope is still the case.

It was because of the focus and emphasis on merit, integrity, academic excellence/freedom and strong government support that UNZA became a serious academic force on the African continent.

I would recommend that we deal with governance issues by projecting integrity in our governance processes and institutions.

Why? Because it is now clear that if there is any process that is likely to wreak havoc just like drought, famine or disease does, it will be electoral processes.

Elections in Africa have become a destructive candidate of doom, accompanied by vices, such as graft and lack of honest/commitment to duty. Just look at the current political tsunami of grand deception!

We saw what the first elections of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe produced. A crippled society, punctured government and an experiment in a Government of National Unity (GNU), which in reality brought more challenges than good. Again, ego played its dirty role.  If Zimbabwe had a weak leadership and poor institutions, it would by now have succumbed to both rumour and foreign inspired proposals for policy changes.

Look at the outcome of elections in Rwanda which was not difficult to foresee. Yet, we still have ill informed political commentators, accusing President Kagame of suppressing dissent. Really? Is someone spoiling for blood again or taking a chance to exploit the dominant trait of “Ubuntu”?

We also have had running commentaries on the just ended balloting in Kenya. The campaign was hard with most pundits suggesting a very close outcome and some news networks clearly showing camouflaged bias.

The tragedy of Kenya, which we have seen elsewhere, including here in Zambia, is that one of the participants, called his portion of participation, a sham. I wonder why he participated.

Mr Odinga, the coalition opposition leader just like the United States President Mr Donald Trump was of the view that President Kenyatta, can only win if he rigged the election. The “fake news club”!

His reported allegations that the Electoral Commission’s server was hacked, was dismissed for lack of merit. He was reported to be crying blue murder, long before the official results. This in my view reflects a deep seated problem of failure to comprehend nuisances of democracy.

In a democratic environment the best a candidate can do is to be either a good winner or loser, ready for alternatives.

You see, the opposition coalition is not only denting Kenya’s key electoral institution for political gain, but also sowing the seeds of a bloody repeat of violence, as in the last elections. Again; all because of the need to “grab” power, at all costs.

Loss does translate into disappointment!

I have confidence in the government of Kenya to deliver and Kenyans have a duty to contribute towards a strong pathway towards prosperity.

President Kenyatta’s most recent friendship gesture towards Mr Odinga, is therefore, very welcome.

Back here, in Zambia (or indeed any part of Africa) no other person but Zambians will commit concretely to have faith in our governance institutions.

It is partly lack of honest commitment to duty, which led to entertaining the “ghost of privatization.” Privatisation in reality was about transferring property from public ownership to a few who were privileged to be in a position to benefit from the liberalisation of the economy.

Still on institutions and our processes some will recall what happened to Zambia, when foreign election observers boycotted the 1996 polls.

Zambian institutions, (I was privileged to chair the all powerful Committee for a Clean Campaign (CCC) stepped in and demonstrated local capacity. The CCC filled the gap effectively, including delivering the first ever Code of Conduct for political parties.

One of the things I remember pushing was for participants in the 1996 election to accept the results and observe political expediency, convinced the CCC that there was need to fund political parties.

I am happy therefore that soon, a bill will be introduced in Parliament to facilitate funding of political parties.

The point in all this is that Zambians, wherever they may be, have a duty towards Zambia and Zambians have a choice between a bumpy road ahead or a smooth road that brings out a Smart Zambia.

As far as I know, President Lungu and his Cabinet have been pushing for a Smart Zambia and the world is responding well. Zamrock, was rocking in New York and in the air on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Focus on Africa programme!

In order to demonstrate international solidarity and responsibility, no other than the respectable Right Honourable Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland (QC and former Attorney General), has made an excellent point that Zambians must move on and consolidate their democratic gains.  Everybody agrees.

As I have said in this column before, the 2016 election is water under the bridge and stakeholders, should take heed and begin working towards the 2021 elections and beyond.

Let me emphasise, that there is life after elections and governance is not all about elections. The worst that can happen is to dread elections for fear of violence. No, let’s put an end to individual and collective irresponsibility.

As a way of moving on, the dynamics between multilateral and bilateral donors need harmonisation. Here is free advice: Focus on societal fundamentals and not be bogged down by what happens when one takes into account irrelevant considerations.

While no one is immune to rumour, we have a responsibility to prime fact finding and evidence-based decision-making, before passing the “death sentence” based on suspect information!

An example of suspect information are turncoats like those who attempted to overthrow President Zuma, using the residual democratic process of Courts and Parliament.

I can only stress that the stakes are very high. But as high as the stakes are, the rule of law must not be contaminated because; there is evidence that the democratic process has sometimes birthed terrible results. Hitler and architects of apartheid are good examples and so is what happened in Egypt a few years ago.

I wish the people who have been championing change in South Africa, and elsewhere were as loud and as brave in working towards dismantling the monster of apartheid.

They caused so much havoc on the African continent. Remember Executive Outcomes and how they killed and maimed? What about the apartheid sponsored civil wars in Mozambique, Angola and Southern Rhodesia?

The DRC’s awaits political resolution!

Well, see you next week!


Comments: ngandem12@gmail.com Mobiles/SMS 0955776191 and 0977776191

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