By Dr Lubinda Haabazoka
The problem I have noticed in Zambia is that we seem to easily forget and are very short-sighted. We don’t pay attention to detail and never learn from history.
What happened in parliament has happened in Zambia before. Unfortunately, because a speaker is normally chosen by the ruling party, their actions are perceived by citizens as being instructions coming from their political party.
I can choose to keep quiet over the issue but I would be doing a disservice to my country and the many friends I have in the ruling party including the current President himself.
In 2017, then opposition leader HH was arrested on treason charges. At the same time, UPND members of parliament were suspended from parliament. Then a “state of emergency” was declared in Zambia. Everyone in Zambia was mute! No one could speak. I took a risk and spoke against what was occurring. I spoke because I really wanted to protect not only the UPND at that particular time but also to tell the PF that such actions were slowly giving sympathy to UPND and am sure everyone saw that in the outcome of the elections in August 12.
Today the UPND is behaving the same way. We have Malanji in custody, Yamba also arrested, a lot of people appearing before DEC, people’s privacy being abrogated every day by unnecessary searches, over 9 MP sits nullified, speaker ruling using a constitution no one has ever seen because the Zambian constitution is very clear that it’s not over until the final court rules otherwise. Even if some of these things might be justified, in the eyes of Zambians, all this is perceived as political victimization. My instinct tells me that with the task force that has been created, more arrests will follow, and knowing how the wheels of justice move, this will drag up to 2026.
With an IMF package coming in and hardships beginning to hit as soon as power and fuel go up, the agency problem will kick in between the Zambian people and the government in power. Whilst the government will be persecuting political opponents, citizens will be wondering when their needs will be taken care of.
Government should not listen to those calling for the blood of former government officials. Those are the same people who will ditch the reds the first when it becomes evident that tables have changed. Some of the people who insulted me over my articles in defence of HH and were busy calling for his blood are today even serving under HH. Such is the nature of man.
The best way for UPND to completely win over the hearts of the people is just to deliver. Let power not get to the head. But at the moment, PF has gained some members whilst UPND has lost some. PF is being constantly made relevant and is even becoming more united by the same arrests and speeches whose sentences begin with PF from government officials. PF is now in the opposition. We can’t continue doing checks and balances on them.
You can hate what I write now but five years when one is in power is not a long time. The Zambian electorate has become highly mobile and well informed because of social media so it’s very important that those in government don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
Today we enjoy a lot of support from our European and American partners. But those people are only with us as long as their citizens support that. But once their citizens hear that their country is giving x amount of money to a country whose government has gained an outright majority in parliament by chasing away opposition members of parliament, I don’t think they would allow those monies to flow into Zambia. These diplomats serve politicians back in their own countries and those politicians also face re-election every now and then. Their loyalty is to their people.
The best way to win over the hearts of the people is just to work. There are many projects and ideas that we can implement in this county but at the moment all we are talking about is politics.
Also to remind leaders that power easily gets to the head. Who knew that barely 100 days in office the youths can be told that “they don’t drive”. “Fuel prices won’t affect you”. Let’s remain humble. Mine is to just help.
And to all those that are busy clapping for the speaker’s ruling. Be informed that certain decisions have national implications. What the speaker has just said is that once a court rules that you are guilty, even if you appeal to a higher court, you remain guilty and you can start serving the punishment. For example, if your employer says that once you are convicted in court you shall be fired. Then a neighbor accuses you of assault and you are convicted by a lower court. Even if you appeal to a higher court, and the court grants you bail, your employer can still fire you and you will remain jobless even for as long as 5 years until the court overturns your verdict. If the speaker’s ruling is upheld by the courts (but it won’t), this will be the implication. So even if you hate Bowman Lusambo, this is not about him but also has implications on your lives. It’s not politicians who actually kill democracy. It’s their blind supporters who support everything!!!