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Sunday, 28 February 2010

No Sleep for My Motherland! (Guest Blog)

At independence in 1964, Zam bia, as the World Bank once observed, was potentially the richest country in sub-Saharan Africa. Forty-four years later, however, it has become one of the poorest, with nearly 70% of its people wallowing in abject poverty.

But how could a country that is blessed with good weather, fertile soil, several perennial rivers running through it, abundant mineral endowments, and very peaceful and hard-working citizens find itself in such a predicament?

Well, we have an outdated education policy that is designed to cast nearly half of those who enroll in Grades 7 and 9 onto the streets every year. We have a healthcare system that is hardly accessible to the majority of citizens. We have so many of our fellow citizens who have no access to clean water and electricity. We have a critical shortage of decent public housing nationwide. Public infrastructure and services are deficient. Civil servants are not adequately compensated for their services. And a lot of civil service retirees cannot get their hard-earned benefits.

Further, crime, corruption and unemployment are widespread. Taxes and interest rates are extremely high. Single-source government procurements, the appointment of alleged perpetrators of corrupt practices to key government positions, and the sacking of officers who attempt to pursue or expose key government officials allegedly involved in scandals have become a normal practice. And selective prosecution of alleged offenders and the perpetration of violence and threats of violence against innocent citizens have become acceptable political campaign tools.

Besides, the National Constitutional Conference is recommending articles and clauses that are designed to exclude certain individuals from contesting the Republican presidency, and those which are designed to suit the needs and interests of the ruling political party. And rehearsed warnings that we should not experiment with leadership have started getting louder—somewhat suggesting to us that the deadwoods among our current crop of government leaders hold the key to Zambia’s future! Soon, we will be bombarded by rehearsed calls that the Republican president should be given more time to complete his projects and programs beyond 2011—projects and programs which include touring the world, and “drive-through” deliberations with chiefs designed to secure votes.

The seriousness of socio-economic woes facing my Motherland is heart-rending. Unfortunately, the Republican president and the Republican vice president are oblivious to the problems facing the common people. They seem to be more interested in lining up their own pockets, and the pockets of their sympathizers. Winning elections to them seems to be an end in itself. And they will continue to abuse the power they wield to win elections—including the divide-and-rule strategy once used by the colonial government, and the use of intelligence briefings to tell the nation upon landing at airports that they know what is happening in opposition political parties.

Does any individual or political party have the key to lock the door to socio-economic decay and backwardness, and unlock the door to greater opportunities and a higher quality of life for all Zambians in Central Province, Copperbelt Province, Eastern Province, Luapula Province, Lusaka Province, Northern Province, North-Western Province, Southern Province, and Western Province?

No sleep for my Motherland!

Henry Kyambalesa (Guest Blogger)

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