By Rev K.Kaoma
Mr. President, I am exceedingly disappointed that we are now lining up for mealie-meal in our nation. I find it extremely discourteous that Vice President Mr. Guy Scott had the guts to blame the shortages on millers while other PF officials blamed it on opposition leaders.
Your Excellency, I grew up under the Kaunda UNIP regime when shortages of basic needs were a norm. I remember waking up at mid-night in order to line up for mealie-meal at various milling companies in Mansa. I have always dreaded those days and never imagined that I would witness it again in my life-time but was wrong.
I was highly critical of the reigns of your predecessors due to excessive corruption and hard and irresponsible economic policies that characterized their leaderships. But as bad as they turned out, they did everything possible to provide mealie- meal and other basic goods to Zambians who could afford to pay for them. It is shameful that you seem to be taking us back to the UNIP era. Do you want to be remembered as the President who brought back “long lines” in Zambia and then blamed it all on the opposition?
Mr. President, how can you explain your administration’s failure to buy all agriculture produce across the nation, to pay farmers on time, water shortages at University Teaching Hospital, and now the shortage of mealie -meal in the nation? How about the reduction in the transmission radius for UNZA Radio, your love for the Public Order Act, the failure to address the street vendors’ situation in the nation, and of course your chaotic handling of the Barotseland issue? I realize that your Party’s answer is the same – blame it all on the opposition.
[pullquote]when the MMD government came into power in 1991 – to which you were a part, the country was almost bankrupt. Inflation, shortages of basic commodities, and a debt of US$7.2 billion were among the many challenges the MMD government had to address. But your situation is different. Zambia has made great strides in agriculture and other economic activities. All you have to do is to provide visionary leadership and the country will follow[/pullquote]
Sir, PF is not the only party to govern under multi-party politics. MMD under Mwanawasa and Banda governed under similar conditions. Regardless of their shortfalls, these administrations took responsibility for their actions and failed policies. This is not the case with you. It is just arrogance or have you developed presidential amnesia, usually associated with State House? During your 10 year in opposition, you were a fierce critic of MMD policies. You courageously stood with exploited workers in the nation to an extent that President Mwanawasa once demanded your arrest. When the Banda administration shot at innocent citizens in Mongu, you stood in solidarity with the victims of state violence. Your solidarity won you crucial popularity in Barotseland – the vote that helped deliver State House to PF. Such are the politics of opposition. So why are you now whining whenever opposition leaders do the same?
May be you understand the politics of opposition better than governance. The truth is, you are no longer the leader of the opposition party but the President of Zambia. We expect you to direct and negotiate the terrains of multi-party democracy. Least you forget the opposition will not help PF win popularity in the nation. Neither are they expected to agree with you on every matter of governance. Such a possibility is only conceivable in one-party rule and not in multi-party democracy which strives on compromises and negotiations. Here your negotiating and not bullying skills will play an important role. The opposition will only compromise with you if they know that they risk being perceived as obstructionists – which is not the case today. I know you expect them to blindly follow your directions like your cronies in PF. But if they do so, how are they going to make a case for your replacement to the electorate?
[pullquote]the opposition will not help PF win popularity in the nation. Neither are they expected to agree with you on every matter of governance. Such a possibility is only conceivable in one-party rule..The opposition will only compromise with you if they know that they risk being perceived as obstructionists – which is not the case today[/pullquote]
My former headmaster at Kawambwa Boys Technical School, Mr. Kawesha used to convey us to “use commonsense although it was not very common.” Of course, commonsense tells me that you can only arrive at your final destination if you know it. In political terms, you can’t expect to have a good cabinet or administration unless you know where you want to take the nation. It seems to me that you lack a clear vision for the nation. This has made it impossible for you to find capable individuals to help you govern. No doubt you inherited MMD corruption but you have had many months to put your house in order. Your trial and error form of governance is responsible for the current state of affairs.
You don’t need reminding that when the MMD government came into power in 1991 – to which you were a part, the country was almost bankrupt. Inflation, shortages of basic commodities, and a debt of US$7.2 billion were among the many challenges the MMD government had to address. But your situation is somehow different. Zambia has made great strides in agriculture and other economic activities. All you have to do is to provide visionary leadership and the country will follow. We expect the PF administration to deliver farming inputs on time, buy maize and pay farmers on time, supply millers with enough maize and keep street vendors off our streets, and of course address the plight of our retirees among many issues. You have no excuse for current state of affairs in the nation, Mr. President. Please, stop the blame game and start governing. We are counting on you to direct our nation but only if you have a right vision. As the biblical proverb states, “where there is no vision, people perish.”