Political leadership in Zambia today

kaundaZambia today is confronted by immense challenges. About 60% of our people are living below the poverty line, which means they lack basic human needs. This is a shame and an aberration on the leadership of this country of great wealth potential. Why are we in this position of despondency after a bright start in 1964?

The answer is LEADERSHIP. Our country has suffered from negative leadership. Eugene Habecker, a Christian writer, in his book “Rediscovering the Soul of Leadership” made a great observation about leadership, he said: ‘it can be positive or negative; it can be slanted toward God’s divine purpose or in another direction. It is leadership just the same.’ He goes on to identify four characteristics of a NEGATTIVE leader based on Chapter 34 of the Book of Ezekiel in the Holy Bible.

These characteristics of a negative leader are:

1. Selfish Ambition: The leaders’ priority of taking care of themselves and their own needs rather than expressing care to and taking care of their people.

2. Lack of Caring: The verses quoted in Ezekiel point to the need for a leader to be caring for the ‘flock’ (people), such as, strengthening the weak, healing the sick, and binding up the injured and bringing back the stray flock. In Zambia this would translate to the fact that pensions are not paid on time, hospitals do not have enough drugs or beds and if they do have drugs these are expired drugs; and no proper emergency disaster facilities. More significantly, we have allowed our best brains to ‘stray’ out of the country for greener pasture.

3. Brutality: According to the Bible, leaders are instructed to lead with a quality of gentleness and not cruelty. This means ensuring the rule of law and not imprisoning or denying bail to people who are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law.

4. Inability to Unify: Negative leadership has consequences for the nation. Because of negative leadership the flock wanders and becomes separated as we have increasingly become in Zambia . Political leaders are appealing to the masses based on tribal allegiance rather than on a programme of development. Major LEADERSHIP POSITIONS TODAY ARE ALLOCATED Based on BLOOD RELATIONSHIPS OR LONG TIME FRIENDSHIP.

From the above characteristics outlined, it can be concluded that Zambia has suffered negative leadership from the top at varying stages of our country’s history. During the beginning of the first republic, we had a selfless young leadership with an average age of 36 dedicated to the independence struggle and development of Zambia as an African nation. As the years went by and power corrupted their minds that same idyllic leadership became ever more brutal towards its own people who dared to show any dissent or criticism.

Hence the first unlawful detentions of many Zambians from Northern Province (i.e. all alleged members or sympathizers of the UPP) took place in 1971 ordered by the then President of Zambia, H.E. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. These detentions included Kaunda’s closest friend and confidant Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. This heralded the end for Zambia ’s nascent multi-party democracy and ushered in a one-party state in 1972.

With no more opposition against him, Kaunda allowed the creation of a personality cult. He developed a left nationalist-socialist ideology, called Zambian Humanism. This was based on a combination of mid-twentieth-century ideas of central planning/state control and what he considered basic African values: mutual aid, trust and loyalty to the community. Kaunda declared a so-called ‘one party participatory democracy’ that saw him rule unopposed for 27 years. Those were the days we began to be told that Kaunda was ‘Wamuyaya’, symbolizing the vanity of power.

Veteran politicians who had fought the British colonialism with Kaunda, like Nalumino Mundia, fell out of Kaunda’s favour and many were thrown in detention for long spells without trial. The perpetual state of emergency was a leverage Kaunda used to detain his political opponents. Today Zambia continues to suffer the legacy of this negative one party state economic and political policy that saw our country move from a middle-income economy to a less developed country and today into a Highly Indebted Poor Country.

It should be noted that the current crop of leading politicians are all sawn from the same UNIP cloth and so even with the 1991 multi-party revolution Zambia is still dominated by leaders that are selfish and without a real vision for the country. Even with the coming of the ‘Great Orator’, Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (simply FTJ) in 1991, exactly 20 years after UNIP declared the one party state nothing much changed in terms of leadership. Here was a man who professed biblical principles and managed to unify the country under the slogan “The Hour Has Come”. The hour for many Zambians came and went away like a flash as all their hopes and dreams were shattered by a leadership consumed with selfish ambition, lack of care for the people and brutal treatment of all those it perceived as enemies of Democracy! This negative leadership of 1991 took the country further back than where Kaunda had left us as they dismantled even the good things that KK had done including imprisoning him.

What is the status today after 45 years of independence? Today Zambia is left with the remnants and discards of the last 45 years of leadership in Zambia . In Zambia today we have a leadership that has selfish ambition (both ruling and the opposition), lack of care for the people, brutal and with total inability to unify our people towards a single vision and purpose. Leadership in Zambia today is devoid of any reality. We have had a President (Mwanawasa) that talked good intentions but failed to deal decisively and fairly with the corruption and malpractice of his own administration. More importantly, we have a President clearly elected on a transition basis now surrounded by mediocrity that is busy undermining and positioning itself for the 2011 elections. He is also facing serious external pressure from the opposition, civil society and private media that has taken on a very nasty and negative campaign to ensure he does not last until 2011 or beyond. However, so far he has handled these pressures quite well and needs to consolidate the good aspects in 2010 otherwise he will fall under the weight of the Tsunami that is coming in 2010 as they Pact gears up for 2011.

In Sata we have an Opposition Leader that claims to be the messiah of the people.  The man who championed Chiluba’s third term campaign has now become the front-runner to lead Zambia as President after 2011. He is now receiving support even though he has a chequered political history which many of those backing him have conveniently forgotten. The most important change has been the change in perception by Zambia ’s leading private daily, the Post in the last one year. Only just over ten years ago Sata sued the newspaper and won damages of K1 million in 1995 awarded by Justice Ngulube in the High Court of Zambia (this can be downloaded from the website: http://www.saflii.org/zm/cases/ZMHC/1995/1.html) as recorded in the action 1993/HP/821 which was tried together with the consolidated actions. The edition of the paper referred to by the plaintiff was dated 8 to 14 January 1993, and there were two articles complained of together with a cartoon.

“The front page article was headed ‘ACC hands over King Cobra docket to DPP over financial irregularities-Sata faces arrest’. The article concerned a sum of K1.6bn government grant to local authorities which was meant for, inter alia, salary increases and arrears as a result of negotiations between the unions and the representatives of the councils.  The evidence which was established that it was entirely true and the ACC had investigated and handed over a docket to the DPP with a view to secure his consent to the prosecution of the plaintiff under the Corrupt Practices Act for failing to disclose interest in a contract and abuse of office in connection with the plaintiff’s orders to his officials that they must place the bulk of the grant money (K1.2 billion) in a deposit account with Standard Chartered Bank, a bank in which he had shares. It was also true that the plaintiff did not take the advice of Mr Mapala, his Permanent Secretary, about the choice of bank since another bank was offering a better rate of interest.”

The point is that the article was so factually true that the witness from the ACC, Mr Russell, suspected there had been a leak and the first defendant had had access to the docket.  A summary of the report of the ACC was subsequently distributed by the President through his aides at a State House press conference.  Although there may be nothing commendable about the way the information was obtained, the report was substantially the truth and none of the imputations pleaded by the plaintiff were entertained by the court.

The next article in the paper was an editorial headed ‘Remove Sata.’ In unmannerly and extravagant choice of diction (WORDS OF THE JUDGE), the first defendant urged the President to remove the plaintiff from his ministerial office. The first paragraph read:

”We have said it before and we will say it again that Michael Chilufya Sata is not fit to be a minister or hold any public office.  Sata is not only a public nuisance but he is also a liar as well as a selfish, unfeeling and cantankerous character.”

What has changed with Sata’s character to warrant him becoming President of Zambia in 2011? Surely our nation can do better than this and find a new generation of Zambians to take our country forward. Everyone in Zambia wants to be President at all costs even if for some it may mean ending up in hospital again. Worse still is that all those surrounding the “Great Leader” are reliant on handouts and jobs for the boys and thus dare not tell the truth or advise objectively. Fellow Zambians are we going to sit still and allow our beautiful country to go through another 40 years of suffering from this level of mediocre and negative leadership? Every God fearing Zambian from all religions should take note and remember that:

“Leadership that honours GOD and which comes from the SOUL is leadership which will be effective”

How many of these so-called leaders can aspire to the above. Let us be very careful in our choice of leader otherwise we shall put our children’s future and the future of our nation in doom. It is time for all of us to take a stand and do what is right for Zambia . NO MORE INDIVIDUAL LEADERSHIP CULTS. ZAMBIA IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY INDIVIDUAL IS.

The Author prefers anonymity

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