By Field Ruwe
No one in the ruling Patriotic Front must get intoxicated with power, not even its president, and attempt to take us back to a one-party state. If they do, we as a nation must rise and strip them of power. Yes we can.
If President Michael Sata deviously tampers with the Constitution of Zambia to accommodate a one-party state, all members of parliament, religious leaders, and all progressive and peace-loving Zambians must condemn him in the strongest terms.
This is what is wrong with Zambia, it is full of turncoats, some mad, greedy and dangerous, others just fatuous and foolish. They selfishly shift ideals when it suits them and betray their original cause. When they are not in power they are busy inciting kaponyas to stake their lives and get killed. When they are in power they subject the same kaponyas to eternal hunger, disease, and trauma. And kaponyas, like sheep keep following them. Why do you treat us this way you heartless people! Haven’t Zambians suffered enough?
Wynter Kabimba is as reckless as they come. Controversy follows him everywhere. He has been a controversial figure for as long as I can remember and he does not shy away from it. Whenever he has an opinion on an issue, he has no problem expressing his views in public, no matter how offensive, fatal, or ridiculous, and he does so in an unapologetic erudite manner. He is not a “herd” type. He is reclusive, introverted, disdainful, and often comes off misanthropic. `
It is no surprise, therefore, that Kabimba has become the first PF executive to inject the term “one-party state” into our national discourse at this point in time. At a recent gathering to celebrate the defection of former Mpongwe MP, Gabriel Namulambe, from MMD to the PF, Kabimba, in his capacity as Secretary General of the Patriotic Front, confirmed the fears of many Zambians when he said and I quote, “It is not the PF who wants the one-party state. It is the people of Zambia,” end of quote.
This is how imprudent Kabimba can get. He speaks like a militia leader, oblivious of ramifications. He is a man who believes he can say whatever he wants, and he has said some damn things, and this one tops them. Thank god, he has provided us with a glimpse of the deception and horror that lies beneath Sata’s façade.
Kabimba and others like him in the PF, including the president think we are damn. They think we are brainless. They think because they are in power they came insult our intelligence. This rotten attitude is the failure of Zambian politics. When one becomes a political leader, cabinet minister, or Member of Parliament they truly believe they are angelic; that we don’t belong to their class. Suddenly they forget where they came from and begin to utter rubbish.
What Kabimba has ignited is an inferno. He and others with same intentions must understand that the term “one-party state” has become indistinguishable with a coup d’état. It is an illegal or unscrupulous deposition of a country by a small group of the existing state establishment. A one-party state like a coup d’état becomes successful when the usurpers establish their dominance. And often in a one-party state as in a coup d’état, chaos, even a civil war, are a likely consequence.
The PF executives must be reminded that many Zambians have lost their lives in their quest for democracy. Others have been maimed for life. In the riots of December 1986, which focused on the price of meal-mealie, 15 people were killed. In 1990, 27 people were killed in the three-day riots. They were among thousands of rioters demanding for the removal of KK and the end of one-party system.
Sata was among the agitators, inciters, and instigators. On November 2, 1990, KK fired him. He immediately joined the MMD together with the likes of Humphrey Mulemba, Ludwig Sondashi, Joshua Lumina, and Bennie Mwiinga.
A ruthless machinist and chronic politician, Sata continued to be vocal in the demand for multi-party politics and began to send young street vendors known as Kaponyas, to loot, destroy shops, and clash with armed police. Between December 1986 and October 31, 1991 when KK was finally removed, enough blood had spilled from the bodies of young boys, some who, armed only with sticks and stones, were sent to their deaths.
We can’t learn from this because greedy Zambian politicians treat Kaponyas as collateral damage. They are the sacrificial lambs. No one cares what happens to them. Up this day none of the presidents has built a monument in their honor. And yet they are the ones who made it possible for us to triumph over one-party system. Today they have made it possible for Sata to become president and for Kabimba to be appointed Justice Minister.
Kabimba is a strong ally and apologist of the president. They met in the 1980s when Sata was Governor of Lusaka and Kabimba worked as Town Clerk. They both have a singleness of purpose: to be in control. That’s how they protect their desire for grandeur. They both love power. They truly believe they are chosen by Fate to be in power.
They are both masters at fanning scorn at their opponents, real and imagined. They both constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is wrong with Zambian politics. When you meet one of them, he wants to be in control. He has to speak and you have to listen because he views his utterances more laudable than yours. Often they do not speak to the educated and the politically alert.
When Kabimba boldly uses the term “the people of Zambia” he knows who he is talking about. He is talking about millions of people with low esteem; they ones with a feeling of hopelessness. They are the ones he preys on to better himself.
Who exactly are these people? They are people from all classes, the hungry, homeless, and unemployed in villages and towns throughout Zambia. They are the rewarded and gullible PF die-hards at cabinet, parliamentary, permanent secretary, envoy, and party levels enjoying regale and high-paying jobs. They are the illiterate and semi-literate fundamentalists (kaponyas) given trinkets (small rewards) at times of need. And of course, they are the desperate back-stabbers in opposition parties like Namulambe and Edith Nawakwi who abandon their ideals at the president’s hoodwink.
The hungry, homeless, and unemployed kaponyas are the most naïve and therefore the most susceptible. Knowing their feeling of desperation, Kabimba and his cohorts, including the president are sure they will receive support at any slightest false promise of wellbeing.
Poverty levels are so high the poor young men and women, in their millions, will do anything, even forget any previous abuse or deception. This is what gives Kabimba and the president confidence to think they can take us back to a single-party system.
I am including the president because mangoes do no fall far from the tree. We know where Kabimba draws his inspiration. His utterances are not accidental. They are proclaimed with the president’s blessings. It is a covert way of testing the waters. It is not Kabimba, but the president putting his toe in the water to see how cold it is.
Some people inundated by naiveté might be quick to defend the president, that he has already repudiated Kabimba’s claims in the press release of Monday, December 17, 2012, and that the president is a strong advocate of multi-party politics. It is this gullibility that makes people like Sata and Kabimba to abuse our intelligence.
Read the press release again. Note how it is crafted in the usual Pinocchio style. For those who have never read “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio is a character prone to telling lies and fabricating stories for various reasons. For each lie he tells, his nose becomes longer. We are talking about a very long nose within a period of one year.
In the release, “crafted” by George Chellah and meant for the shackled journalists in the state media, Sata does not admonish the culprit, Wynter Kabimba. Instead, he attempts to shift the blame to the opposition.
Let’s examine the following quote: “Therefore, as custodians of the Zambian people’s interests, we find this attempt to debate democracy and the already existing multi-party system of governance, time-wasting and a mischievous excuse by some politicians to taint the reputation of the PF as well as divert Government’s attention from more important issues.”
The above quote is written with a crooked pen whose ink flows with deception. This is what is wrong with the current president of Zambia; his failure at communication. Sadly, the president’s unconscious is the conscious. Like a narcissist, he does not take full responsibility of a wrongdoing. He is not known to apologize on behalf of his party or on his own behalf. Instead he uses words to control, manipulate and stimulate. He uses language that appeals to the country’s emotional state—a mind control tactic, which to him comes naturally.
The press release should have been all about Kabimba. The president should have rebuked him in the strongest terms and send a warning to other loose-tongued, power-drunk PF supporters to desist from using the term “one-party system” in vain.
He should have showed us that he is a genuine champion who is playing an essential role in fulfilling his pledge to lead our nation to higher democratic heights. But sadly and clearly he didn’t and he won’t. Under his presidency democracy faces the greatest challenge. His irrational attitude towards Nevers Mumba (MMD) and Hakainde Hichilema (UPND) and other opposition leaders points to a democracy in peril.
President Sata must bear in mind that we know him very well. We have been around him long enough to know his weaknesses and strengths. We know he is unpredictable, arbitrary, volatile, and tenacious. He may not have much education, but he is excessively preoccupied with power, prestige and vanity.
Throughout his life Sata has wanted power. He has come to believe that power is not attained through education, because knowledge is not power. When, in 2001, he supported FTJ’s bid for a third term, his motive was clear to many of us. Today, he has excelled.
What kills him though is his sadistic behavior—his callous, vicious, manipulative, and degrading behavior expressed towards us the people he rules. He has no regard for us. He takes us for granted and treats us like 14 million ignoramuses.
During Sata’s rule, there is a growing trend of undermining constitutional authority and the democratic process. It is the reason people like Kabimba can get up and say anything that comes to their mind. Kabimba must get it in his head that the people of Zambia do not want a one-party state. They do not want it discussed in any form. They do not want dictatorship. They want Sata to rule for one or two terms and exit honorably, and not be forced out like KK.
No substantial development has been made in a one-party state anywhere around the world. In Zambia, KK, who had started off very well, took us through a period of untold despotism and brutally clamped down on our freedoms. When the public could not take it anymore, it vented its outrage on him. Such was the case with Kamuzu in Malawi, Mobutu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Idi Amin in Uganda.
Today the despotic rule of Robert Mugabe has left Zimbabweans and their lovely country in a pathetic state. In other one-party states like Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, the ending has been ugly.
Don’t forget that in all these one-party states the victims have been the innocent people who are seeking a better life. We shall not continue to lose our young men and women due to the actions of a few selfish people like Kabimba. We shall not allow a one-party in Zambia. Never! So, don’t you dare!
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner, historian, and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and serves as an adjunct professor (lecturer) in Boston. ©Ruwe2012