A Typical Case of Immorality and Sacrilege
By Peter Mubanga Cheuka
My blood boils to see the level of extravagance among our political leaders holding public office. I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that our politicians enjoy lavish and extravagant life-styles with poverty in our midst. Ironically, such lavish life-styles are paid for by the poor taxpayer. Do these political leaders have conscience? I am forced to wonder if they have any sense of right or wrong left in them. Do they feel at peace with themselves living extravagantly with taxpayer-funded free housing, electricity, expensive cars, fuel, airtime, and other entitlements which are far beyond the reach of the poor majority?
Even more worrying and scary is the fact that the ordinary citizens, the taxpayers themselves, have come to accept such a state of affairs. It appears to me that, overtime, political leaders have convinced the masses it is normal for the former to live like kings and queens while the later are left to wallow in untold misery and poverty. To start with, I have always struggled to understand why, in a poverty-stricken nation like ours, with homeless people, a single individual has to live in a residential complex called state house with an army of workers at his/her disposal. Fellow countrymen and women, where is social justice here? It is in the public domain that the republican president, the ministers, and other political leaders are handsomely remunerated. These individuals can afford to live decent lives financed from their salaries and hefty allowances they unreasonably pocket.
They can manage to buy their own houses, cars, and other necessities required for a decent life. What I do not understand is that, besides the handsome salaries and hefty allowances they draw, the system further entitles them to many other free social amenities. If someone thinks giving free housing, electricity, transport, et cetera to a financially-sound individual is okay, then such a one needs a rigorous brain scan. It is wrong, immoral, and sacrilegious for the system to avail such free services to an elite group of people who can afford on their own. It is the poor Zambians who desperately need such free services. It is strange that homeless people have to die on the streets in cold weather while politicians are comfortable in mansions with some rooms unoccupied. Bizarrely, our people seemingly see nothing wrong with this status quo, perhaps due to the social programming they have undergone over time.
Our priorities are indeed upside down. We see nothing wrong with our republican president walking on red carpet, while a poor man, woman, or child in Shangombo cannot afford to buy even a pair of tropical sandals or maliposa. Countrymen and women, do we really need red-carpet treatment in our poverty-stricken nation? How many pairs of shoes can be bought for the impoverished children of Shangombo if we were to forego red-carpet? Can’t our political leaders walk on the ground like any other ordinary Zambian does? After all, we all know they have very comfortable shoes. What, really, is the purpose of red carpet? I am still scratching my head!! Additionally, we see nothing wrong with our political leaders moving in expensive cars purchased using taxpayer’s money while a child in Shangombo has to move kilometres to school every single day. We see nothing wrong with our political leaders flying private jets while a poor Zambian in Misisi, Chibolya, Kanyama, Mandevu struggles to find a few coins for a bus fare. Surely, with such a status quo, most of us need a rigorous brain scan to ascertain our sanity.
Fellow countrymen and women, we need to start questioning most of our deep-rooted social norms which should, in actual fact, be considered abnormal and be treated with the highest contempt. We need to vigorously campaign for an end to extravagancy expenditure on our political public office bearers. There should be nothing extremely special to be accorded to our political leaders at the expense of the mainstream civil service including Zambians living in abject poverty. We are all serving the nation in one way or another. Financial discipline needs to be inculcated in our political office bearers so that they can pay for some social amenities just like most other civil servants do. Logic dictates that the one who is capable has to pay and a free service should only be accorded to the poor and dying. It is unfortunate that political office, in our country, is perceived to be an express route to enriching oneself. This perception must be overturned and we need to see politicians ascending to public office to serve the interests of the common man on the streets, the poor man, woman, or child in Shangombo including other impoverished communities in our country. Enough of political slogans, we need action.