By Lucky Mulusa
Nevers Mumba’s press address regarding the recently held Lukashya bye-election left me with a feeling of profound sense of worry for our nation. Our politics have degenerated into a tool of national destruction rather than one for national building. He covered a wide range of issues from electoral malpractices, general maladministration, to insults and personal attacks. But interesting to note in his address was how he dedicated almost half of it, to the damaged relationship between himself and one Raphael Nakachinda.
When people who are in particular positions of favour because of a foundation that was favourably created for them, make insulting the sponsors, their stock-in-trade, you can really feel the way Dr. Mumba feels. Its difficult to think that Raphael would manage relationships any differently and so advice to him is an exercise in futility. What he has done to Dr. Mumba, he has done it to Hon. Mutati and will do it to others as and when it suits him.
I cant imagine myself insulting President Lungu under any circumstance. This is simply because of my history with him. I do not agree with a lot of things happening under his watch, but still I can’t insult him. For example:
• While Lusaka is undergoing decongestion through the current road works, the government should not have embarked on an ambitious programme to recongest Lusaka by squeezing a 25,000 sitting capacity conference complex between Parliament building and Mulungushi Conference Centre. Imagine the traffic into the Arcades area from all over the city delivering delegates!
• The fact that over four years after the enactment of the 2016 constitution, the Ministry of Justice has not operationalized the office of the Public Protector, through the creation of a Parliamentary Committee, into which the Public Protector is supposed to report issues of maladministration;
• The numerous retirements of innocent citizens through the so-called “national interest” quoting the President who, more often than note is not even aware; and
• There are a lot of things happening, but then, I can’t insult anybody.
While nothing in life is permanent including political offices, one day, with God on everybody’s side, every single individual in the current Cabinet will be retired to the terraces, from where they will watch others govern this country using the same treacherous laws and policies being promulgated today. This means that unless there is intervention, the culture of insults, violence insolence, arrogance of incumbency, just to mention a few, might linger on long enough for them to experience the impact of them from outside government. So when given an opportunity to govern, do it as if you are the governed so that you may create favourable legal, economic, and social environment for yourself beyond your tenure.
Regarding Dr. Mumba’s lamentations over the PF’s alleged misconduct over electoral practices in Lukashya constituency, I have this to say: Katz (1997, p 3) writes, ‘elections are the defining institution of modern democracy. During the brief period of an election campaign, voters are the masters and seen to be so.’ To examine the electoral process as Dr. Mumba did is therefore to analyze the central device which has made representative democracy a feasible proposition for emerging democracies.
Leaders in their tour of duty, must always ensure that the major accomplishment of liberal politics, that is rule of law that affords protection for individual rights and a means of resolving disputes between citizens and the state is never subverted. Consistently, the “rule of men” must never be allowed to replace the “rule of law” through enactment of laws that reverse achievement in liberal democracy that has ensured leaders are constantly ensnared in the threads of legal restraint. For our case, operationalization of the Office of the Public Protector would go a long way towards that objective.
I have always wondered, whether thoughts of a future outside power ever cross the minds of leaders in positions of authority. Will they be happy and proud of the environment they would have created for the nation? Will they be happy with the culture of violence and insults they are cultivating and sustaining now and to which they will most likely fall victim? When President Chiluba, MHSCRIEP, left office, he found Zambia to be a prison without walls due to the toxic environment he had helped create and sustain. He was heckled, insulted and could not even drive around in a car with windows open nor step out to greet people. It’s the same cadres he had used to call Mwanawasa all sorts of names, who needed another target and the target was himself (Chiluba).
Sanity, decency, and good governance practices in politics are some cardinal possessions no politician must lose.