By Edwin Sakala
Since independence, Zambia has dived from being a united nation to a society of a few filthy rich and a large population of hungry and desperately poor. The gap between the rich and poor has widened to a level the poor are suffering and dying as if the country is at war. This situation is unacceptable and unjustifiable. We say so because Zambia has abundant wealth but what is causing this gap is the unfair distribution of the nation’s cake.
A few people get every thing while the rest get nothing. A typical example of this is a situation is Zambia where members of the newly constituted Commission looking at the constitution are drawing K2.6million per 8 hours sitting which is far above the monthly wage of a hard working civil servant. We believe that Zambia can develop faster and the welfare of citizens uplifted if the current governance system is changed from one where the majority population remain spectators as a few work to a new system where a large population get involved in national building.
It is against this background that we have been consulting various stakeholders regarding our earlier stated intention of campaigning for the transformation of the provinces of Zambia into federal States that Lusaka remains as home for the central government where provincial leaders can govern the country as a whole. We must say the response has been overwhelming. Many of our traditional leaders, leaders of the Civil Society Movement and the church were of the view that the movement should be with immediate effect. According to them, this is the best solution to the current problem the nation is going through at the moment.
It is against this background that we are in the process of conducting an opinion poll directed mainly at former Resident Development Committees RDC leaders, NGOs and traditional chiefs who we hold in very high esteem and as a backbone of our society. We will hold a press briefing later to announce the names of provincial team coordinators for all the provinces that are charged with the responsibility of taking our vision for a new Zambia to every district and down to the smallest unit of society across the country.
The provincial team leaders will be expected to develop structures across the country by organizing and sensitize people on how to go about the federal states. We wish to state that our advocating for the federal system kind of government is because it is the best way to go for Zambia at the moment because the truth which must be acknowledged is that our country has lost direction. Zambia has departed from its 1964 independence which was well spelt out in the national anthem. The One Zambia One Nation we grew up with is long gone , even the food security which we enjoyed has vanished as hunger is the order of the day ,family bonds are broken , people’s morals and cultural values have simply disappeared while the basic foundation of love and unity are gone.
Zambians have adopted a hate driven culture of fault finding each other and witch hunting while politics have taken regional and tribal tone .This is evident in phone in programmes, the tribal insults on some popular websites and indeed a situation where one is able to tell the tribe of an individual by the party dress.
We have a situation where we hear people publicly and blatantly and dangerously insult and humiliate each other on tribal lines than ever before. There are several very serious concerns which we can raise such as what corruption fight and justice the PF government is talking about when the legal machinery is in the hands of people with questionable histories. Just as we could have questioned the coincidences of Members of Parliament being absent in numbers when important bills are up for voting. We would have asked if there are secret khaki envelops being used to remind our MP of urgent business they have to attend to outside parliament on critical moments.
Our focus is not to dwell on the many clear failures of the PF government but rather to view them as a blessing in listing down situations which should never ever be repeated in the future of the nation and indeed help the nation find permanent solutions to situations such as how former leaders must be treated because the current witch hunting must not be a national culture or political tradition.
Time to leave the politics of name calling should be thing of the past. We want to focus on developing our country. The only way forward is through Federal system of government which has many advantages such as more people focusing and participating in decision making and developmental activities. In federal kind of development, we will have people from all walks of life taking part in developmental activities. Such activities will ensure that people in respective regions will have jobs where money would be realized. Across the country will use all their powers to extract wealth to develop the regions.
Surely an environment must now be created to enable Zambians join the world in various specialized scientific work research instead of our primitive culture of ever looking goats in the mouth as if we are dentists or indeed politicians hijacking the role of the police by playing the super cops. Unlike in the current system where a few people can divert attention away from development and real issues dehumanizing and killing citizens to a demonizing agenda of those in the opposition, in federal states, there will be no room for such unproductive agendas as everybody will focusing on how they will facilitate development. The utmost agenda for these players will be development. This will speed up the process of development in Zambia.
We are not interested in the rhetoric and witch hunting politics taking place at the moment. What we are interested in, is the developmental aspect of the country. We have observed with regret that it is this tendency of politicians dedicating and conditioning our energies to discussing people that have led this country to be where it is today. For once, we want our people to think development and begin to implement their thinking into action. We will not yield anything in the primitive politics of empty talks, insults and demonizing each other that the PF is promoting.
We for example find it difficult to understand how anybody can seriously talk of fighting corruption when they have no policy to safeguard the future of workers after retirement and indeed give workers a mere fraction of their two hours boardroom sitting allowance to survive on for a whole month. Leaders must strive at addressing root causes of situations instead of merely trying to deal with outcomes. It is corruption itself and deceit to waste time, resources and energy -Slashing cane in a field without digging out the roots or indeed using a condom.
Unlike the current condom culture when it comes to fighting corruption we expect Federal States to learn from developed countries on how they look after workers in service and in retirement which does not drive workers to gathering the hay while the sun shines.
We fail to understand how a government can pretend to be fighting against corruption when leaders get hefty salaries and allowances while the workers doing the donkey work get slave wages which can’t even sustain them for a week and worse still have no guarantee for payment of retirement benefits. They see their retired friend languishing and dying while fighting to get their benefits .What can stop them from finding dubious method of safeguarding their future and who is to blame for corruption? It is against this background that we believe that the Federal system is better as it will be possible to address developmental and real issues without too much political interest.
The Author Edwin Sakala is the coordinator for the People’s Party