Hunt for Successor 17
PF in a Venetian Mask
The PF is another impostor of democracy. It is using egalitarianism as a Venetian mask to hide its agenda of an autocratic nation in which the head of state has control over all decisions and little input from us the citizenry.
We can tell democracy is eroding when only a single voice can be heard making decisions that are subject to neither legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control. It is clear that our cabinet ministers are not operating in a free and open environment. Afraid to be dressed down, they have become mere cheerleaders of a bureaucracy that is operating independently.
The president has little tolerance for meaningful opposition, an indication of an indefinite political tenure. It has become clear with only a six-seat PF majority in parliament the president wants the MMD blasted by TNT so he can claim the 51 seats in the rubble.
Freedom of the press is threatened. It’s becoming dangerous to be a journalist. The president wants online newspapers gagged and the owners incarcerated. The democratic qualification that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers” has become a no-no.
We are not a dull people. We can tell autocracy when we see it. It is a type of governing that involves absolute authoritarian control over a people. While it has its own advantages, especially in a crisis, it is susceptible to abuse. Our very own FTJ practiced authoritarianism in the face of democracy, and misappropriated over $40 million of our hard-earned money.
In a move reminiscent of autocrats, FTJ unilaterally created a Zamtrop account that operated outside government business and turned it into his personal ATM. Some of FTJ’s lieutenants broke their fiduciary duties and created their own mini ATMs in similar fashion. Suddenly, friends I had bought a beer at Polo Grill were clad in swaths of gold.
Between 1991 and 2001, we saw the mushrooming of castles, chateaus, manors, and haciendas by fortunate paupers in a rags-to-riches rush. They drove luxurious cars, owned boats, wore expensive suits, and lodged at Intercontinental. Today, the story of the MMD is told in the tale of the popular pantomime Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
How did we allow FTJ, the darling of democracy to slither into the authoritarian dungeon? Here is how: the move from a one party system to multiparty politics happened in a flash. We did not fully grasp the true meaning of democracy. For many of us “democracy” simply meant KK out and oratorical FTJ in. When he pronounced the word “democracy” with a phony Yankee accent we marveled indeed.
The Young Turks knew the meaning of democracy that’s why they created the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD). “Democracy” to them meant multi-party politics, freedom of political expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
They were hoping to create a Zambia in which we as a nation together charted our political discourse, and determined public policy. They wanted us to freely express our opinions and have equal access to legislative processes. But as the story has been so often told, the Young Turks fell for the Yankee accent and the rest is history.
Barely two weeks into his presidency, FTJ watched Aka, Derek, Dean, Peter, Katele, Edith, Ronald get down to their knees in fawner and sycophant posture and he loved it and proclaimed “power is sweet.”
Sweet Power’s nemesis is democracy. FTJ knew it. He quickly damped it and became an authoritarian. He craftily frustrated and completely blinded the Young Turks to the extent that when he singly sold more than 250 state companies to private firms the braille on the wall was too complicated to read.
It can boldly be stated here that it was during his authoritarian rule that we witnessed the sad and unfortunate departure of young politicians some in suspicious circumstances, namely; Baldwin Nkumbula, Dean Mung’omba, Paul Tembo, Ronald Penza, Richard Ngenda, Cuthbert Nguni, and Wezi Kaunda.
Have we as Zambians learned anything from such arbitrary and repressive power? I doubt it. As I write, we are watching suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda, a man of the gavel, subjected to trauma. If the reports are anything to go by, he is ready to dash through the gates of the American Embassy for refuge. His life is in such danger he has written a note to his family that should he die, they should know who is responsible.
Whatever crime Justices Musonda, Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna have committed, we Zambians are yet again caught up in our maladroitness, enjoying the drama. Because the state has said so, we are seeing the judges as obnoxious and are glad they are being humiliated. The Chief Justice and his team are so ineffectual nowadays the president has to borrow a judge from our neighbors.
Judge Musonda’s fear that security agents might go after him must be taken seriously, after all it is George Chella who on January 22, 2012 announced that State House “will let the State security wings chart the way forward.” This was in reference to the staged assassination hoax that up to this day lies in the doldrums.
It is four months since the Zambian security agents with their American and British counterparts launched an investigation into the prank and began to comb the world with a toothbrush for the culprit. We do not know if they have caught the fish. I doubt it very much because it they had the Minister of Homes Affairs would have beamingly “briefed the nation.”
I can categorically state that there was never an investigation into the matter. It was a failed internal ploy to frame innocent people and lump them with the most heinous crime of treason. The devil was in the details. The catch was in the pluralized phraseology of George Chella’s press release.
Press Secretary George Chella, a tyro at matters of security, set off a false alarm with the full knowledge of the president, sending the entire nation into a panic. PF cadres were demanding for the culprit’s head; church, civil, and labor leaders condemned the “terrorist;” and we all demanded he be arrested and treated like the assassin he was.
It was the first time in the history of Zambian politics that a head of state overtly ordered “the state security wings to straight away bring the perpetrators of such evil acts to book.” He thus set his security men and women on the populace in the manner of a rogue, police and dictatorial regime.
In my article of January 29, 2012 titled “Did Fred M’membe stage the Assassination Hoax?” I offer my own version of how I still believe the hoax was planned and provide “evidence” in form of mail from The Post Managing Editor Bivan Saluseki to me. I candidly suspect the prank to have been the work of Fred Mmembe and Bivan Saluseki with the knowledge of George Chella. I am yet to be proved wrong.
I urged investigators to include The Post and Chella’s computer if they were to find the culprit before innocent people were framed and lumped with contrived malicious evidence. I doubt they heed my advice.
Aren’t we Zambians who on January 23, 2012 woke up to the alarming news, and were outraged and flabbergasted, not entitled to the truth? Are we so damn as to be treated to such toxic tactics? Why are we not demanding that the Minister of Home Affairs or Defence brief us on the outcome of the investigation?
With such semantics I don’t blame Judge Musonda for fearing he could be framed. He has been on the bench long enough to know how the system works. Framing is an old-fashion undemocratic tactic of accusing a group or individuals by offering interpretations of their actions to knowingly and falsely make them seem responsible for odious or treasonable acts.
Framing is now best done with the help of computers. A framer will use spear-phishing techniques to gain access to one’s confidential information and the IP (Internet Protocol Address), and post false incriminating stories.
Lately, online Zambian newspapers have been experiencing hackings. Some of us in the media are receiving Trojan traps, baits, threats and insults. It has become clear that some bloggers have been engaged to simply spew insults, write irrelevancies and spread viruses.
Are we afraid? Hell no! There is no need for us to be fearful, not after all the sacrifices we have made to create a democratic Zambia. In 1991, when we triumphed, messages of goodwill poured in from all corners of the world. We were hailed as a model for other nations to emulate. Last year we scored another first when RB gracefully conceded.
We may have stumbled along the way, but are surely optimistic about our future and the incumbent should not kill our optimism by perpetuating autocracy in Iron Mike style. The PF should remove its Venetian mask and allow democracy to flourish. It is a tool with which to start preparing our next leader to succeed the incumbent in 2021. It is indeed a tool with which to establish new attitudes, arrangements and structures for our children.
Caution: Ignoramuses, tin heads, door mats, and hired stooges apply scathing personal attacks as psychological warfare. They lead a dangerous life and camouflage in sewer. Ignore their comments and make a strong intelligent point for yourself. The country needs your input.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate at George Fox University and an adjunct professor (lecturer). ©Ruwe2012