By Nkonkomalimba Kafunda
The stage managed highly publicized defections from the United Party for National Development to the ruling Patriotic Front are not only misleading but have the potential to create more rifts in an already divided nation.
The defections are misleading because they give simpletons the impression that the PF is doing such a remarkably tremendous job that senior members of the only credible opposition party have been suitably impressed to an extent that they are ditching their own party to join the ‘progressive, forward looking, visionary’, and all other manner of superlatives now used to describe the ruling party. The level of deceit knows no bounds.
The truth is that some defections for example those of Parliamentarians Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa and Teddy Kasonso are because the two were in bad standing having gone against the UPND by voting with the PF in supporting the contentious Bill 10, the failed piece of legislation that was intended to further entrench the PF’s hold on power.
For others the defections are purely economic as the PF are in the market shopping for spineless, unprincipled opposition leaders. On Sunday April 25 UPND spokesperson and outgoing Choma central MP Cornelius Mweetwa revealed on Hot FM Radio that PF leaders Richard Musukwa (Mines Minister) , Bowman Lusambo (Lusaka Province Minister) and Edify Hamukale (Southern Province Minister) offered him K6 million to join the PF, a claim rebuffed by Musukwa, who is also PF Mobilization Committee Chairman, the following day.
The defectors, instead of working towards removing PF and stopping the country’s economic malaise and democratic credentials from worsening by canvassing votes from the electorate to usher in a responsible, competent government whose hallmark will be competence, integrity, accountability and honesty, among other virtues, they took the proverbial thirty pieces of silver and went to bed with the devil, figuratively.
Alarmingly, society or parts of it have accepted kleptocracy as a form of government and choose to join in enjoying the fruits of thievery, pilferage and pillage choosing materialism over integrity and morality.
My faith in humanity gives me hope that the great majority of voters will not be swayed by cash and other ‘gifts’ to vote in a manner detrimental to their immediate and future well being.
It should sadden all right thinking members of our social order that historically elections have not been based on issues but rather on personalities, their venom against each other and the campaign regalia, food and alcohol individual candidates dish out.
We must strive to attain a higher standard of humanity for ourselves, our children and their children after them, meaning we must emulate the best practices from the best societies on earth. It follows therefore that it is folly for our society to be content that we are better off than others in sub Saharan Africa that have had civil wars, military dictatorships, rebel insurgences, economic mismanagement, avoidable mass starvation, and other man made calamities. Our goal should be a prosperous, just, equitable liberal democracy with respect for the rights of citizens, with government with full consent of the majority who voted of there own free will without coercion inducement or intimidation. Most importantly no individual or group of individuals should be allowed to ascend to power fraudulently through rigged elections.
In a nutshell, instead of thanking the heavens that we are not like failed state Somalia or phantom state Central Africa republic, we should be asking for guidance to reach standards achieved by Northern European states like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
But then our people lack exposure so may be excused as they know nothing better and think that our current miserable state of affairs is the norm rather than the exception; A Baby born in a prison cell does not realise that the bed and the toilet should not be in the same room.
Finally, how do we as concerned patriots (not to be confused with members of the Patriotic Front) ensure that the August 12 outcome reflects the will of the people? Do the institutions charged with the responsibility of holding free fair elections are up to the task? Will the state controlled media cover all political players equitably? Are the police able and willing to create and maintain a level playing field? Does our judicial system have the inbuilt capacity to settle the inevitable electoral disputes impartially?