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Monday, 5 April 2010

Zambia needs a progress agenda for change (Guest Blog)

Zambia today is at an important economic and political crossroads. Many patriotic citizens are asking what has happened to our great nation? In 2010 we face a dangerous uncommon breed of Zambian advocating anarchy and violence to remove a properly elected Government with a ‘red card campaign’. Politicians are daily hurling insults and threats against each other forgetting the suffering masses? Where is our country going? Where are the patriotic national leaders to speak up on behalf of the people? Many are cowering hiding away while others behave as minions daily praising their leaders. The country is in a shameful state where we do not respect the rule of law and, parts of the media and civil society have become toothless mouthpieces’ of local and foreign interests. It is important that we acknowledge the truth and not bury our heads in the sand.

At independence in 1964, Zambia had one of the most vibrant economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, which was supported by a strong mining industry. Today, Zambia has more than two thirds of its people living below $1 per day and GDP per capita is now one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are now classified as a
Least Developed Country and a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The Government has in the past been bold enough to undertake severe fiscal and monetary policies to achieve the HIPC Completion Point and generate more foreign aid. However, this success has been on the basis of a foreign imposed austerity programme that bears no relation to the reality on the ground for the ordinary Zambian.

Zambia is not poor and we can reverse all these negative statistics within 10 years if we unite and use our natural resources in a prudent manner. What is required is a locally owned and developed National Plan of Action (not foreign prepared and donor dependent Vision 2030) and the Political Will to implement the right policies over a sustained period of time to create the conditions that will allow the country create wealth and through that defeat poverty.

I urge all peace loving progressive Zambians to rally around this plan and let us focus on securing the future of our children rather than fighting over power. Our plan should be to restructure the economy to: create jobs, provide adequate incomes and to meet the basic needs of our people. The current political discourse in Zambia calls for progressive citizens to articulate and embody their values, embracing the metaphorical, cultural, and emotional quality of political thought rather than to focus on gaining power no matter the cost to the nation. The question one would pose is, what exactly has Rupiah Banda done that is so wrong that he must be removed from power using unlawful means? Why will the so called civil society and Pact not wait for 2011 and use the ballot to gain power?

Someone once said that “let us follow the Prince of Peace, not the dogs of war” because “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” – Voltaire. We are being daily bombarded by negative misleading headlines promoting tribalism and making Zambians think in tribal lines rather than as national citizens. The big question is why are the men and women who are tasked with security in Zambia sleeping on the job and allowing known people to continue to subvert and circumvent our nation’s freedom and unity? There is need for the President to act decisively and ensure Zambia remains ‘One Nation, One Zambia’.

It is true that they are a number of Government officials that need to be removed as they are not adding any value to the Government but this requires sensible objective criticism and not advocating violence. We should not be afraid of speaking out where we see wrong in Government but at the same time when we see wrong in the Opposition and in Government we must speak out as well.

Let us reflect on a Kenyan prayer that says: “From the cowardice that dare not face new truth, from the laziness that is contented with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver us”. May the good Lord deliver us and our country from evil forces. It is time for the Churches, business associations and all progressive Zambians rise up and speak against this deadly red card campaign and denounce this Priest speaking hatred and evil. Father Bwalya must be unmasked for what he really is and he if there was any principle in him, he would stop hiding behind a Priestly garment and state very clearly what he aims to achieve from this evil campaign. It would be best for Father Bwalya if he truly wants to play a positive role in the nation to go out there and encourage as many youths to register to vote and use their vote wisely in the next elections, instead he is inciting them to flash red cards against a democratically elected Government. That is wrong in any language of democracy.

Every Zambian knows that God teaches us to respect authority and to love one another just as Jesus loved us. Where we disagree with the Government we can do this without rancour and insults. If we truly believe we have a better deal to offer to the Zambian people lets go out there and campaign on issues not on how many trips a President takes. What petty politics we are allowing in the country. It is time for all political leaders in Zambia to tell us why they would like our votes in 2011. Tell us how you will improve health care, education and ensure that every Zambian has at least a decent basic standard of living. Our people have been patient enough, its time for true leaders in Zambia to emerge. Twachula pafula!! God bless Zambia.

Trevor Simumba (Guest Blogger)
United Kindgom

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