Friday, June 14, 2024

One Zambia, One Nation, Two Realities?

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By Dingindaba Jonah Buyoya

“How dare he speak ill of the President? Stay in your lane! Aba nabo!” That’s the tone I expect as feedback from this article; largely because the country is incredibly polarised and quite heavily politicised. This is actually quite fair, seeing as most of the country’s leadership is either by politicians or people close to politicians. As a consequence, supporters of said people tend to defend their own, and passionately so.

This will certainly not stop my article. I was fortunate to be one of the people that attended President Hakainde Hichilema’s presser at State House on the 18th of May, 2023. But no, I must add that I have actually attended all of President HH’s (as I like to call him) briefings. I have had the further privilege of being given the chance to ask him some questions, alongside other journalists.

At all his briefings, President HH seems to spend a decent amount of time registering his successes – which like anything else are quite arguable, but he can have that. Dare not ask him about his predecessor! Unfortunately, this incredibly reduces the chance for the press to ask their critical questions as there’s little time, but even if they did, it’s not like the President will give definite answers. With decades of experience, President HH has very solid experience as a politician and this tends to work well for him in evading questions with rather very general responses that for some reason seem to impress his supporters.
While this is the case, it might appear that President HH is living a different reality. It is important to mention that unlike what the President may believe, Zambia is certainly not a utopia, after he assumed office. Quite the contrary if we’re keeping it a hundred (pardon my slang, I’m trying to keep my young friends in the loop – like the President often does).

In examining President HH’s tenure, it is important to acknowledge his achievements while recognizing that they alone are not the solution to Zambia’s challenges. One notable accomplishment is the commendable Napsa 20% partial withdrawal initiative. However, it is crucial to question whether this measure aligns with the President’s perception. Despite this withdrawal option, the majority of Zambians still struggle to afford housing even with their entire NAPSA pension, let alone with a mere 20%.

Meanwhile, as the President and his health minister focus on allegations of drug theft and engage in political battles, the non-functional state of the Cancer Diseases Hospital continues to claim lives. Since mid-last year, the hospital has been without a functioning Linear Accelerator. While the minister of health is occupied defending herself against criticism, people are losing their lives.

An overarching issue lies in the President’s inconsistency. His words often outweigh his actions. Last year, his administration promised to procure new linear accelerators by the year’s end, yet no progress has been made. Similarly, he assured the nation that the issues surrounding KCM would be resolved by the first quarter of 2023, yet the situation remains stagnant.

Mining plays a vital role in Zambia’s economy, and any disruptions in this sector have far-reaching consequences. Despite the President’s promises of a swift resolution to the challenges faced by the mining industry, several months have passed with no tangible progress made.

Furthermore, senior government officials are disregarding media freedoms by giving uninvited interviews, a matter the President has chosen to ignore completely.
While the President believes that the lives of Zambians have significantly improved, it is vital to question this narrative. As a journalist interacting with numerous individuals, their experiences don’t always align with the President’s assertions. It raises the question: Is the President residing in a different reality altogether?

At the first briefing, I raised a crucial question to the President regarding a leaked audio involving two high-ranking officers within his administration. The conversation revealed a plot to undermine the independence of an opposition political party, which has effectively been reduced to insignificance. The President assured that an investigation was underway, but to this day, no progress has been made. It appears that the matter has been conveniently forgotten, perhaps reflecting our collective tendency to have a short memory.

In the beginning of 2022, the President and his government pledged a seamless farming season with timely and sufficient delivery of agricultural inputs. Regrettably, this turned out to be a catastrophic failure. How can the President’s assurances of timely input delivery be trusted now, considering his past bold statement during a BBC interview, where he claimed his choice for the Bank of Zambia governor would astonish citizens, only to ultimately appoint Edgar Lungu’s former candidate?

Speaking of Edgar Lungu, it begs the question: When will President HH move beyond his feud with his predecessor? This ongoing rivalry serves no purpose for the nation and is rather tiresome. It is time for the President to focus on substantive issues and prioritize the needs and aspirations of the Zambian people over personal animosity.

In conclusion, while recognizing the President’s commendable achievements, it is essential to critically evaluate his actions and the realities experienced by the Zambian people.

Unaddressed concerns regarding the leaked audio, mining challenges, failed promises in the agricultural sector, and an incessant feud with his predecessor highlight the need for a more consistent and proactive approach from President HH. Only by confronting these issues head-on and aligning rhetoric with concrete actions can Zambia truly progress and achieve a brighter future for all its citizens.

The Author is is a multi-award-winning Zambian journalist, winner of the BBC Komla Dumor Award 2022 and television presenter at Diamond Television, a leading private TV station in Lusaka Zambia

9 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t believe the Napsa partial is anything else other than an enticement for votes. One cannot claim to have full filled a promise.
    On the other issues, you cannot turn fiction into reality. Welcome aboard Mr HH.

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    • Tell us what Lungu promised and fulfilled in 12 months. People like you are always negative. I think you are bitter because as a cadre you haven’t benefited from the NAPSA partially.

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  2. “Speaking of Edgar Lungu, it begs the question: When will President HH move beyond his feud with his predecessor? ”
    if you are a journalist worth your salt, arrange for an interview with Edgar Lungu and ask him just one question…Have you retired from active politics?
    The whole media fraternity seems afraid to ask ECL that question. I wonder why?

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  3. Well balance piece of opinion. But suffice to say that, the president has always continued on the path of opposition despite being the head of state.The spirit of opposition needs to be exorcised,from him, as quickly as possible.The lies he exuded, while in opposition, have continued even in his leadership. For nations sake, tell him to be sincere for one. The levels of insincerity, in him, are very worrisome. The nation is expecting the best from him, not lies.

  4. These are the type of questions you should ask at press conference not in a write up on lusaka times after the press conference is over. What’s the point then?

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  5. There has never been one Zambia one nation
    Just thoughts in KK’s head
    In his one party participated democrocy, which was anything but

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