‘To enact and execute just laws, is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.’ (Prov 21:2)
Very often when people in politics are asked about why they joined politics, they reply, ‘To help people.’ In the west, I have often heard a very different answer, ‘To make a difference.’
HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
These two answers are superficially similar but they are not. When you look at politicians in Africa and in Zambia in particular, the way they help people is by using their money and resources. A member of parliament in a town I lived in many years ago used to offer his van to transport the infame to hospital every evening. He was there for the funerals. He would donate food and transport for the mourners. To the people in that constituency, he was ‘a good man’ who deserved another term in office and so he was re-elected. For years that constituency remained very poor and backward.
I once went to a house of a mayor of a city in Zambia. I found dozens of political party women cadres camped at the back garden doing nothing but chatting and gossiping while being fed by the wife of the mayor. I asked what this was all about and the answer I got was, ‘This is politics.’ This is what the Zambian people have come to expect from politicians. He is a good one if he donates a truck load of millie meal to the constituents, if he dishes out money in public places or at State House in brown envelopes, if he distributes chitenge wraps, pays school fees for a desperate single mother’s child, settles a hospital bill here and there.
If this is what we want from our politicians, we should not be surprised that they will steal from the national coffers in order to maintain their reputation. They believe themselves to be benevolent Robin Hoods, only that they do not steal from the rich but from the same people whom they pretend to be helping. These politicians do not do these things in order TO HELP PEOPLE, no, no. They do it for THEMSELVES. The eye is on the next election.
ONE REALLY DOES NOT NEED TO BE A POLITICIAN IN ORDER TO BE GENEROUS.
In the United Kingdom, I have met dozens of families that sponsor children in Africa every year. They pay for these children’s education and wellbeing. They are unsung heroes who do not have much. Charities too, like World Vision, Oxfam, Water Aid etc are helping people world wide. They are not politicians. The point is this. You do not need to join politics to help people.
How come EVERY politician in Zambia is financially better off when in office than they were before they entered politics? Are they really helping the people or helping themselves?
The 44th President of the US, Barack Obama, was a social activist in Chicago, helping people. I take Obama’s example because it gives the best human motive one can ever have to join politics. Obama could have been a lawyer, and a good one for that. He could have made a lot of money from law practice and then used his money and resources to help individual families in Chicago South side. No. Obama saw that the problem his people were facing was political. It had to do with the LAWS OF THE COUNTRY. This is what motivated him to become a politician.
POLITICS IS ABOUT LAWS
I would ask the 150 members of parliament in Zambia today. ‘HONOURABLE SIR/MADAM. What law have you enacted or changed or sponsored/proposed that has helped the Zambian people?’ Zambians are still paying through their noses for EDUCATION, for HEALTHCARE. Pensioners are dying before they receive their money. Thousands of Zambians have jobs without a written contract and can be fired at any time by their employers. Millions of Zambians are homeless and a majority of those who rent have no rights at all and rentals can be hiked without notice at all if there is another tenant willing to pay more. Millions of Zambians are still without clean water. Those in the city townships like Ng’ombe, Chawama, George are still defecating in containers at night because pit-toilets are outside the house. The Zambia police have killed and maimed people and no one has ever been blamed for it. The existing laws are weak against peaceful demonstrations and protests. People are victimised even for satire as long as the President is aggrieved. The media is only free as long as it sings the ruling party’s songs. We cannot have a country where good and evil acts depend on the mood and morality of the one man in State House. The country must be above that.
Well might Isaiah lament. ‘You cannot be trusted, even in court. You lie about each other and depend on false arguments to win your cases. YOU CREATE PAIN and produce wickedness’ (Is 59:4)
What has the MP, the Mayor, the Minister, the Vice President or even the President of Zambia done to CHANGE this for the 17 million individual Zambians? How have you used the law to level the playing field so that every Zambian has a chance to succeed in life regardless of tribe, race or station in life? In August 1979, President Kaunda opened Zambia’s largest hospital, the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Kaunda celebrated one very important piece of legislation that his UNIP government had enacted- Free healthcare at the point of need. He pointed out that without this, far fewer than 2 million Zambians would be able to see a doctor or afford a hospital visit. UNIP did that. It made a difference for every child in Zambia to get an education, every person to go to a hospital and be treated free of charge. The unions had immense power to negotiate labour conditions.
It looks like laws are only made to make life better and more comfortable for those who are already well off and in the favour of the rulers.
Why did you join politics?
Imagine you were stripped of all your power and wealth right now, would you be in a better Zambia than when you entered politics? Do you think that your children would have a good chance of making it in life without your money? If you were sick, do you think that you could afford healthcare? If you were arrested and sent to prison, do you think that you would find prison conditions better than before you took up politics? What difference have you made for Jack Chipulu, a street kid in Lusaka?
By Charles N