Monday, June 24, 2024

Thank You, Zambians for Reclaiming our Country from Capture

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JUST over a week ago, on 12th August, Zambians of persuasions, across the breath of country – from Senga Hill to Kalabo, Chililabombwe to Livingstone, Mpulungu to Sioma and Mwinilinga to Chadiza – turned up in numbers to give President-Elect Hakainde Hichilema, and his United Party for National Development (UPND), a resounding victory like no other.

Young and old, able-bodied and disabled, educated and not, urban and rural based, and residents of both UPND and former Patriotic Front (PF) strongholds all braved the cold chills of 12th August morning to cast their vote for change. And they delivered, against all odds it must be said. They were armed with only a national registration card and voter’s card against a Goliath who was armed ‘to the teeth’ with the military, police, cadres, state media, you name it.

No doubt every change of government from 1964 through to 1991 and 2011 has been about substituting what was not working for what the citizens aspired for. In 1964 we craved for and earned ourselves freedom from colonial rule, and in 1991 the change was a return to multi-party democracy and market economy. In 2011, with the benefit of hindsight, we can now assert that the change was more about installing a populist President and his party (the PF) in power than any significant ideological or strategic re-orientation. As some analysts have argued, the charisma and populist messages of PF and its founder Michael Sata is what charmed the Zambian voters. No more no less. Again it can be inferred that the PF was empty on so many fronts. Hence the short ‘shelf life’ – 10 years, out! Zwaa!.

Fast-forward 2021; this year’s election has not just been about change from the PF to the UPND. It has been about returning the country to normalcy. It has been about reclaiming the country from the capture of the entire Zambian society by the PF thugs and, sadly, the entire rank and file of the party. In November 2020, when the Americans booted out Donald Trump, I published an article on this column titled, Americans Have Shown Us How to return country to normalcy.

In the article I wrote that, “Biden’s election is more than just a mere change of hands of the leadership of the ‘free world’ and a return of the Democrats to the White House. Put simply, Biden is the antithesis of Trump. To many across the world, it is a return of America to normalcy and orderliness – both domestically in the USA and globally. We will see why in a while. More significantly, I argue, it is a lesson for us here in Zambia that with people power, it is possible to return our country to normalcy, from the trajectory of ‘panga’ and ‘pamaka’ politics we have been subjected to since 2011. We can live normally again as we did before; no need to be training bouncers to survive our political landscape or living under hooligan and lumpen capture.”

The moral or message of the article was that if the Americans and others managed to reclaim their country from lunacy, we too could do it. As the joke goes, “if the Americans did it, we could also did it.” And so I assert in this article that we have done it at last, we are ‘free at last’, thanks to the people’s movement.

As Edgar Lungu packs his bags in State House, he must be reminded that he leaves behind a terrible legacy of the abominable capture of the Zambian society. Never in the history of this country has a ruling party captured so many institutions of our society, and all for political expediency. In South Africa state capture focused on state institutions, notably the parastatals, executive (which included the Presidency), the ruling African National Congress (ANC) itself and, through the capture of the ANC, part of the National Assembly.

In Lungu’s Zambia, capture went beyond the state institutions to other societal institutions such as the markets, music industry, transport sector, church, parastatals, state universities, private sector who do business with the state, you name it. Lungu and PF went further to capture the constitution itself, which resulted in our rights and civil liberties and freedoms being taken away from us in daylight. Let’s take a quick look at some of the institutions that were captured.

1. Constitution: while it guarantees individual rights and freedoms, these were all taken away insofar as they were perceived to be at odds with the enjoyment of power by the PF regime. Hence, the constitutional rights and freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and free speech and movement, were captured and frozen. Those who defiantly exercised these rights met the wrath of the archaic laws, such as the Public Order Act.
The 2021 Amnesty International report says, “Zambian authorities have escalated their attacks on dissent by thwarting a planned anti-corruption protest leading to organisers streaming their protest from the outskirts of Lusaka. According to a coalition of civil society organizations, Zambian authorities are escalating their attacks and intolerance for the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, by clamping down on peaceful dissent in the country. We urge authorities to stop seeing protesters as enemies of the state, and instead take heed of the criticism and not silence them.”

2. Executive: institutions falling under this arm of government, such as the police, parastatals and quasi-government institutions, were arguably among the most captured. For instance, the police were subdued and could be publicly humiliated by cadres. The perception and reality in the end was that the cadre was more powerful than the police and military. The epitome of supremacy of the PF cadres over police was the attack of the police headquarters, of all places, by Jay Jay Banda and his group of armed cadres. Those within the police command who dared to challenge or control the cadres were fired. How Bonny Kapeso and Sesheke-based officers left the command are good examples.

Other than the police and some government ministries and departments, parastatals such as ZESCO, Zambia Public Procurement Agency (ZPPA), ZRA, and guasi-government institutions, such as the public universities, were equally not spared. With regard to ZPPA, the public outcry over inflated prices of services and goods (e,g the fire tenders) epitomized the capture of the institution, real and perceived. Revenue generating parastatals were labelled ‘cash cows’ and job centres for the PF and its cadres. It has been observed repeatedly that the parastatals had an obligation to award contracts to PF cadres and to make donations whenever called upon.

3. The church sector: was not spared too. For the first time in the history of this country we learnt the term “Christians for”..(another human being); specifically “Christians for Lungu.” Imagine! Consequently, the church was divided even over such things as the creation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Guidance, building of the national house of prayer and offer of state funds for Covid 19. Church capture also manifested in biased opinions about the performance of government and over such important national maters as Bill 10.

4. the music industry. Just as we have had “Christians for Lungu”, we also had what we can call “Musicians for PF and Lungu.” Those musicians who were ready to sell their souls to sing for Lungu and PF were handsomely rewarded with state-sponsored empowerment programmes and funds at the expense of the others. Subsequently, like the church sector, the music industry has been divided. The question now is, what next for the “Musicians for PF and Lungu”?.

5. markets, bus stations and other trading places. PF cadres controlled these places at the expense and to the detriment of councils. To trade in these places or to load a bus people had pay to the cadres. The cadres controlled who traded there. Only those who were believed to be loyal to PF or those who paid fees were allowed to trade. The same applied to allocation of plots in numerous places. Cadres captured the Ministry of Land and councils and took over land allocation.

6. Private sector and professional associations: the private sector and even, would you imagine, professional associations such as the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ), were equally captured. We learnt over the years that to be awarded a tender by government, a company had to commit a certain amount of its proceeds to the PF. Equally we saw the president of the EAZ in the PF campaign team, to the chagrin of some members. During the run up to this year’s elections EAZ could not speak and act professionally. This can be said about other associations. Attempts to capture Football House were only thwarted by the strong FIFA statutes against government interference.

Finally, with regards to capture of state universities, in next Friday’s column article I argue that the award of an honorary Doctor of Philosophy (or PhD) degree to Lungu by the University of Zambia has inklings of state capture. I will elaborate in the article.

I will end by congratulating Bally, her Honour Madam Nalumango and their team for the sweet victory and delivering Zambia to the Promised Land. To Bally personally, you are an inspiration to a lot of young Zambians. Yours is the stories of Joshua and David in the bible. They called you names, you fought on; they deserted you but you fought on; they humiliated you but you fought on; until at last more Zambians across the breadth of our country saw what you were seeing and felt what you were feeling and joined your battle.

So, much as you and the UPND put up a splendid fight, in the end it was the movement of Zambian voters that delivered the victory. As you said in your victory speech, it is the people’s victory. And therein lies the heavy burden on your shoulders.

Those of us who know you closely will not be shy to say how lucky Zambians are that finally the inspiring stories of your journeys in your personal life, in business, in farming, in corporate management, etc will finally be told, especially to our young sons and daughters, whose hopes for the future had momentarily been dashed. In you, we have someone who is a natural complement for our efforts in inspiring our children. Safe journey my brother!

The author is a researcher and scholar with the Institute of Economic and Social Research, University of Zambia. He is reachable on [email protected]

18 COMMENTS

  1. ..wonderful article. Congratulations to the people of Zambia for this incredible victory. We also thank God almighty for the deliverance from this group of thugs and criminals that called themselves the patriotic front.

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  2. A very well written article full of humility and certainly very sincere.. Well done and looking forward to a peaceful and prosperous five years.

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  3. Mbozi, there is nothing you are saying here which has not been said and published on Lusaka times by many meaningful and sensible Zambians in the last 11 days. You are recycling articles for reasons known to yourself. Maybe wanting a job, looking for fame or just self-praise.

    HH won the elections 11 days ago and every sensible Zambian has wished him well and the best to come out of him. Because if does well, the country moves forward, and he will not solve all problems in Zambia. And we must be patience with HH, because change will not come overnight.

    Therefore, its time for guys like you who are given the platform on Lusaka times to use it to inspire and become creative. In other words, live in the presence and not the past.

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  4. I have been saying this for years ……..

    many vuvuzellas thought I was just sour grapes and hated lungu…….

    No, I hated what he stood for , and how he corrupted every system of governance in zambia…….

    Soon , lungu will be seen as the worst president to have ever ruled zambia……

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  5. Ka Mbozi, use your grey cell.Politics is a competitive enterprise in a democracy. The prize is the wellbeing of the state. UPND has assumed the button. Just wish Zambia luck through their impending contribution. There are no enemies in this game. Do not leave common sense outside when you enter the research arena.

  6. Lungu thought he could bribe Zambians into silence……….

    However, he did not have enough money to bribe everyone , and those not bribed began to talk……….

    As a way of protecting their bribes, those getting bribed began to attack those without bribes who began to talk, who were the majority……

    And so the clock for lungus rejection by the majority was set…….

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  7. Mr. Independent Observer@.

    I have been critical towards you in the past, probably on two occasions I crossed the line. Sorry !!
    I think guys like you in Diaspora need to get back and join the nation to take it forward,
    because you have vast experience in Investment Banking, Venture Capitalist and Hedge Funds.
    Zambia needs people who can inspire the youth to be creative and have access to
    getting funds to start small scale business, not forgetting coaching the youth on
    skills needed to start business. In that sense I get your points of view.

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  8. Bushe kwena te bootlicking fye iyi ba Mbozi? Such sweet things should be told to someone when he isn’t in power

  9. I met one Police officer in Lusaka today who said he was the happiest bemba in the country, I asked why, he said the change of government was so sweet, I said but they built you houses, and he told me if they want they can go with their houses, That’s when I realize how bad things were

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  10. It’s always dangerous to equate politicians to biblical figures because you will always make excuses for them when they are doing wrong, you will literally worship them. If the whole country voted the way voters in Luapula/Northern/Eastern/Lusaka/C-Belt voted democratically, the gap wouldn’t have been wider. Infact, the parliamentary picture doesn’t point to a landslide. Let us be careful with this hero worshipping and let hh prove to Zambians why they voted for him.

  11. Good article! And such a breath of fresh air, that the stup!d troll and imposter KZ is not around to puke on it! Would he be in jail already? Then I’ll pay him a visit! To ensure that he has the worst cell ever, and that the cell next to him has been reserved for Edgar China Lungu, so he can go there straight after HH’s inauguration tomorrow!

  12. It is reasonable and responsible to render total support to new inclusive development policies on a case by case basis. These include robust infrastructure development, access to electric power, affordable fuel, social cash transfer, job creation, industrial harmony, competent, integrity, economic diversification, climate resilience, youth participation, national minority rights and respect of the rights of women.

  13. Well written article. We thank God Almighty for the election victory of the Zambian people. Why should all the bad leadership be associated with Africa? PF government and its leadership were a disaster.

  14. ,,,that the change was more about installing a populist President and his party (the PF) in power than any significant ideological or strategic re-orientation.

    Try and look at the strides PF has made. The party was people centred, it side tracked and failed Alu ng the way. This can still happen to UPND. HH is populist today at 60% votes.

  15. There is nothing wrong with putting everything together like he has done. His work is excellent. Be supportive and not destructive. That is how you build one another and the country.

  16. Council you have been given back the markets and bus stops.Wake up whats this we are hearing that cadres are back? You have already failed to manage? Lets be serious.

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