Thursday, April 04, 2013

Zambia: Politics of Poverty

When President Michael Sata came into power in September 2011 he promised the people of Zambia that the Patriotic Front government was going to create new jobs and put money in people’s pockets in just 90 days. The ‘Don’t Kubeba’ political taboo still lives in people’s minds—the political and economic injustices committed upon the Zambian people by the MMD. President Sata has no ideology of any kind. I have never heard him define his political and economic programmes as socialism.

It is a foregone conclusion that in Africa politics is haunted by ethnic and tribal loyalties. Every political party that is elected to power starts to defend its position through suppressing and intimidating the political opposition. The so-called fight against corruption is doctored by revenge and tribalism. This was very evident during the reign of Levy Mwanawasa—we saw how Mwanawasa hunted and victimised members of the Chiluba administration. It was only when Rupiali Banda came in power that Fredrick Chiluba was rescued from corruption allegations. The fight against corruption brought into question the relevance of the judiciary in Zambian domestic politics. The Director of Public Prosecutions is the only person who can override the decisions of the High and Supreme Court judges. The schism between parliament and the judiciary exists. The President does interfere in the workings of the judiciary (he has constitutional power to do so). The suspension of two High Court judges and one Supreme Court judge by the President in May 2012 did not raise eyebrows in political circles because Sata was merely invoking chapter 58 of the Zambian Constitution that provides for the Head of State to remove or suspend a judge.

President Sata suspended the three judges because on the grounds that they interfered or behaved inappropriately in a court case between the Bank of Zambia vs Post News paper and Mutembo Nchito. This is a matter in which the Bank of Zambia was restrained from formalising the purchase of Zambia Airways by Post News Paper. But the suspension of the judges was foreshadowed by the appointment of Mutembo Nchito as Director of Public Prosecutions by President Sata in 2012. What is called corruption in Zambia is mostly stage-managed by politicians. Calls for the lifting of former president Rupiali Banda’s political immunity is a case in point,. Banda was recently approached by the Anti-corruption Commission to answer corruption allegations—Banda refused, citing his political immunity. The former MMD president seemingly enjoys political sympathy from overseas ??? community. In 2012 Banda was ceremoniously invited by the Boston University Senate to give a series of political lectures in the USA. Again (20 February), he was invited by the Carter Election Monitoring Team to preside in the monitoring of presidential elections in Kenya. We can easily see how the fight against corruption is being used to decimate the MMD.

The most controversial and outspoken political figure in the PF today is the party secretary General MV Wynter Kabimba. This is the man who, together with Michael Sata helped to fund the Patriotic Front in 2003. When Mr Kabimba was recently summoned by the Anti-corruption Commission to answer for certain corrupt allegations, he openly refused to do so. He was quickly rescued by Sata, who went on toe restrain the Task Force on Corruption from investigating Kabimba. But his compatriotcolleague, the former Foreign Minister Given Lubinda did not survive. He has been suspended from the PF for six months. It was alleged that Lubinda had revealed some Cabinet secure information to the UPND MPs. It is more than a coincidence that Lubinda is a Tonga from Southern Province, whereas Kabimba is a Bemba (like Sata). The PF government is wholly staffed by Bemba-speaking politicians. It is a fact that were Given Lubinda dismissed from the PF—he would have joined the UPND.

The UPND, led by Hakainde Hichilema is a complete political disappointment in the sense that it remains an ethnic party—it is mostly composed of Tonga-speaking political cadres. It has a mass following in Southern Province. The much-lampooned about Mapatizya Formula is a cold-blooded recipe for political violence carried out by the UPND to murder and terrorise members of the Patriotic Front.

It is appalling to see how a well-educated person like UPND president Hichilema succumbed to ethnic and tribal politics. Indeed, the UPND are being quickly decimated from parliament and beyond—the PF keeps on to win every parliamentary constituency that is contested.

The PF does not want to be seen making the same mistakes made by the MMD for twenty years, viz. by creating a huge public service that was not answerable to the needs of ordinary Zambians. The PF government has started to regulate the private sector, and henceforth introduced a minimum wage pegged at K1250 for general workers—both the church and the labour movement has praised the PF for the gesture. The Ministry of Lands [?], together with the Ministry of Works and Supply have been re-organised to curb corruption. Though President Sata may seem too be sincere at heart, yet capitalism as a system will disappoint his political and economic ambitions.


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