BY Kapya Kaoma.
“If you want to hide something from an African,” so the saying goes, “put it in writing.” President Hakainde Hichilema’s budget did exactly that! Many Zambians don’t read, thus they don’t know the deadly Bally agenda–grow the UPND by bursaries and government jobs. Is it not an oxymoron that the New Dark Regime is out to grow the Civil Service without improving the conditions of Civil Servants? Does President HH understand the relationship between motivation and service delivery? As things stand, Civil Servants won’t strike since new ones will always prefer peanuts more than nothing. Great strategy Bally–keep fixing the lazy Civil Servants for your ballyvirus will kill all strikes in the nation.
There are many devils in the Bally 2022 budget, but I was highly disappointed by Dr. Musokotwane’s childish statement “Madam, in education, at a stroke of a pen, we have removed tuition fees at public secondary schools.” If it came from Bally, I would understand. But then I realized–in Zambian politics, the difference between the enlightened and morons is simply a title. Abolishing Parent Teachers Association, examination and Tuition fees is one thing, but defending the policy is another. The PTA fees are set by parents thus there are part of the people’s democratic involvement in the education process and governance. Another reason policy formulation should not be the President’s kantemba, but something to be debated, analyzed and properly implemented. We have two months before January 2022, and the Bally administration has not put in place any structures for implementation of this populist ideological program.
Had he thought it through, Dr. Musokotwane should have told us how much grant money Zambia’s 8000 primary schools will each receive, and the same with 1000+ secondary schools. He would have told us if urban schools will receive the same amounts as rural schools and whether teachers, head teachers, PTA and other stakeholders were consulted before reaching this decision. He would have told the nation who would administer the grants. Moreover, he would have informed the nation how schools would run APU programs. What would mission schools do–are they required to abide by the same standards since teachers in those schools are also on government payroll? HH prides himself as smart and democratic, but his actions suggest otherwise. The talk first, think afterwards HH syndrome of this ideological program will be an avenue for corruption and misappropriation of funds. But since it is the baby President’s rant, it will be overwhelmingly funded.
The politicization of bursaries is jaw dropping. The New Dark Regime has not abolished boarding fees. If your child attends boarding school and you are “deemed” able to pay by your Ward councilor and MP, “Bally won’t pay.” However, if you are deemed “unable” by the same, a bursary will be processed at the Ward level and then paid through the Constituency Development Fund. This policy kicks in this January.
Again HH’s thinking is exposed. How would a PF Ward Councilor process a bursary for the UPND cadre’s kid in Mansa Central Constituency? The same situation will play in UPND strongholds–persons whose political views are in opposition to its MPs will be disadvantaged in accessing bursaries. Moreover, how many bursaries will each Constituency receive? If I am a PF MP, I would easily deem all my Constituency unable to pay–thus Bally will pay.
How are we going to ensure that these bursaries are distributed equally across the nation and how will these funds be accounted for given that Constituency Development Funds have been locked in grand corruption? Is the Dark Regime taking us back to the Kaunda days, when nothing was done without carrying the UNIP membership card? Not so fast. The goal is to consolidate power by allowing cadres to control who gets paid. It is another avenue for increasing UPND political dominance across the nation–when you join the UPND, “Bally will pay.”
Relatedly, politicians are always looking to the next election. The employment of 44,000 Civil servants in 2022 and the promise to do so in 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026 is meant to politicize the Civil Service by recruiting new Bally worshipers (about 220,000 enough to secure his 2026 reelection).
This leads me to the second part of the budget–keeping the promises on job creation. Dr. Musokotwane speaks about unemployment as “a vexing problem especially among our youths” and “Government will create a minimum of 44,000 jobs in 2022.” This, the minister said, “is record breaking.” Is it? The answer is no! 11,200 will be government health personnel jobs while 30,000 will be teachers in government schools, bringing the total to 41,200. The administration will create 2800 other jobs presumably in the army and other government agencies. Is this something to celebrate or to be ashamed of? These jobs are not being created–they are government jobs paid for by the government. We need private sector jobs! We have accountants, engineers, lawyers, etc–all these are looking for jobs. If Lungu did this, HH would be calling him names.
I strongly believe that populist decisions are as dangerous as corruption–they deliberately waste national resources to advance one’s political agenda. Nothing has changed since President HH took office. Is he not the one who told us that the treasury was empty? So where are we going to get the money to finance his grand scheme?
I wait to see capitalist Bally fix what socialist KK failed to fix. As the youth of Zambia say, “Bally will pay.” The bad news is, Zambians will pay to keep Bally in power.