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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Commodification of politics?

We are already familiar with the politics of poverty (here, here and here), but veteran politician and Anti- Corruption Commissioner Akashambatwa Mbikusita introduce us to another feature of Zambian politics :

“....Some people who are aspiring for high political positions now look at the size of their pockets...People now think leadership is purchasable therefore, they can use their falsely acquired wealth to buy votes....This issue of buying leadership is confusing because people now think all it takes to lead Zambia is to buy votes. This is a great insult one can have against citizens who sacrificed a lot for Zambia’s independence,”.

Except of course, this is not really new. Aka undoubtedly has high profile cases in mind, but in truth at the local level, political parties always engage in buying local leadership. Zambia's grass root democracy has actually been dependent on such vote buying since independence. Its difficult to imagine local people becoming engaged in the political process without some form of immediate return e.g. a good bottle of Kachasu or Chibuku. I suspect without such inducements on voting day, in many of our villages no one would bother to vote because the return from voting is minimal.

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