By Chimwemwe Mwanza
There is only so much that one can do to stretch the truth in order to duck responsibility. But that lies are fast becoming a body-politic of this government is a frightening reality. For now, they can take heart in the consolation that the electorate still has the enthusiasm and endurance to listen to the non-stop repetition of the current number one hit on the political chat, ‘PF and its looting spree’. Ever wondered then what will happen when this melody begins to lose its lustre?
As Elisha Matambo and Cornelius Mweetwa would like us to believe, the UPND will rule until Jesus comes. The inference here being that mere mortals have therefore no right to question the shortcomings of the governing party. The sheer arrogance, awe leza twavwe (Lord help us). Bushe, is power this sweet to prompt such hallucinations mwebantu? Maybe they are entitled to gloat, after all, is it not the great UPND that liberated us from political bondage?
In their universe, there shouldn’t be independent mindedness and Mweetwa is very explicit on this one. In Mweetwa’s own words, nobody but the politically pliant Nevers Mumba among opposition politicians has the moral right to criticise this government. Really, has the bar sunk this low? What has Nevers ever achieved politically to become one’s role model – other than presiding over the death of MMD? Lest we forget, is it not civil society including some daring Journalists that helped to keep the PF bigotry and brutality in constant check while the UPND labored to wrestle power from the former governing party?
As we are learning and can be attested by the ruling party, the goodwill of voters is in essence a free pass to obliterating critical organs of the state. Even those we once respected for masquerading as independent referees presiding over political contestations including elections have opted to give the constitution a middle finger. Listening to the counsel proffered to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in the wake of the ECZ’s rejection of Bowman Lusambo and Joseph Malanji’s respective bids to re-contest their seats was cringeworthy.
This feeble attempt at comedy is like watching an on-field referee battling to rescind a goal decision endorsed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). Imagine one telling a lie which they themselves can’t digest – this disease has a name. It is called chewing the truth. And truth be told, we shouldn’t be having a bye-election in Kwacha constituency for that matter. The Constitutional Court’s nullification of the Kwacha parliamentary seat was bogus. Regardless of views on Malanji, this decision is a travesty of justice.
Even more damning, the unfortunate absence of critical voices in this matter is a sad reality. In determining the outcome of the complaint lodged by the petitioner, the onus fell on Malanji to prove if he has a valid G12 certificate. As the last recourse to justice, the Court denied him the opportunity to prove his case. Even the interpretation of Article 72 section 4 of the Constitution cited by ECZ as basis for rejecting the duo’s submissions to recontest the seats is equally bogus.
A Zombie remix to Zambians (Please use this as a second heading and colour it blue)
Flashback to 1976 – with its constitution suspended, politicians and other dissidents arrested, the new Nigerian Junta led by erstwhile dictator and newly rehabilitated democrat General Olusegun Obasanjo, plunged the West African nation into turmoil. The military inflicted political and economic instability upon the land that birthed scholarly luminaries such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri and late Ogoni activist Ken Saro Wiwa, among others. One of Obasanjo’s legacies is the astuteness with which he crushed dissent.
With no opposition left to keep the military’s excesses in check, it was Fela Anikulapo Kuti – that great saxophonist and son of Abeokuta city that took on the mantle to defend his country’s descent to totalitarianism. Through song, poetry and dance, he took on the mighty Nigerian army with aplomb winning some battles, soul and minds of the Nigerian populace. It is his depiction in song of Obasanjo’s army as Zombies that earned this talented pan-Africanist notoriety.
In a rebuke to a passive Nigerian society, Fela chastised the military for their inability to question orders from their superiors. In the song Zombie, he belts these lyrics ‘Turn right, turn left, salute and attention’ tacitly admonishing the military for succumbing to hypnosis. Fela later paid a heavy price for his activism – was detained on numerous occasions by the junta, subsequently losing his mother in the aftermath of a military raid at his residence.
While equating this Nigerian scenario to home might be a tad too far, there are parallels to draw, with the Zombification of our civil society. What good is the existence of the Zambian constitution if those that swear to protect it seem readily prepared to desecrate it at their whim – the extent of which includes using hired guns to hypnotise society with lies. As we leant from the previous dispensation, decent to totalitarianism is not an event but a slow and painful journey. As such, both the Kabushi and Kwacha bye elections have already been rigged in favour of the ruling party.
And by the way rigging elections is not only the act of stuffing ballot papers but the creation of an uneven political playing field. Which is why the citizenry can’t afford to leave critical institutions like the ECZ in the care of Zombies.
This metaphor or write-up is a befitting tribute to you Mr Edem Djokotoe. Go well my idol and father figure. Hopefully, the heavens are not singing Zombie but chanting Hallelujah for they have an editor in their midst.
About the Author: Mwanza enjoys reading History and Philosophy. He supports nothing but Liverpool and Kabwe Warriors. For feedback, email [email protected].