Reflections on the forthcoming, filthy elections

Reflections on the forthcoming, filthy elections

By Hilary Mulenga

The long overdue announcement of the date of elections by President Rupiah Banda gives Zambians time and opportunity to reflect on the destiny of the nation. Away from politicking, there is one factor that unites all Zambians regardless of our political allegiances or interests. Before us is a beautiful country that needs to move on.

Today, Zambia lags behind economically and socially probably because national interests have not overridden those of individuals.

Politically, there is so much filth we have experienced in the past months. Zambians have been made to believe that there are no politics without insults, character assassinations and worst of all, violence. We are a ship that sails on troubled waters and where those who steer it have made us believe this is normal. If someone will predict that these elections will be a rougher road for Zambia in terms of peace and stability (God forbid), we would hardly argue with that sentiment.

Again, the political propaganda that has turned both our public and private media into unprofessional tools is saddening to say the least. Where the media often times acts as a pacifier of diverse views, Zambians have been handed a raw deal from them. Today, it is easy to predict the news content of the different media houses in Zambia.

Dwelling on inconsequentialities during campaigns is nothing new in Zambia. Apart from political manifestos which are hardly dealt with, most of the political campaign messages are bombarded with irrelevant information. It is so sad when you compare our campaigns with those of other countries like the US where three quarters of what is talked about is policy. Hate speech and character assassinations have become a new way of doing politics in Zambia.

Twenty years into our multi-party democracy, Zambia has had few brilliant moments of leadership. Looking at the behavior of the presidents, ministers and MPs this country has had in the past two decades, there is too much politicking in those offices.

One should believe that once leaders have been sworn in, they become administrators of the nation not political party flag bearers. Unfortunately, one gets a feeling that there is more inclination to politics than governance. Of course there have been exceptional moments and individuals but one cannot fail to reason why the 46year old has even failed to produce a constitution that embraces national interests.

Things looker bleaker even when one ponders about the future of the nation. Zambia has failed to put to good use the youth resource. Watch the role that the youth will play during this year’s elections. Apart from being used as instruments of havoc, there is little being done to help the youth become responsible citizens and leaders of tomorrow. The only time the youth become important to most politicians is when they have to throw stones or interrupt other people’s gatherings.

Above all, there is need to liberate the country economically. It is illogical that despite peace, plenty of arable land, many natural resources such as minerals and a population which is largely young, Zambia is still poor. Despite few economic statistics which make no sense to most of people, a large chunk of the population is still living under a dollar per day. If this is not enough a disgrace for the nation, someone should take the blame.

Of course, no matter how much we need to put politicians into power, Zambians can only leave the affairs of the nation for the politicians at their own peril. We need a paradigm shift and for once act as the landlords of the nation. That means Zambians must begin taking proactive steps towards national dispensation. Elections are an opportunity for Zambians to take bolder steps and begin to see the national picture. We need to usher in leadership that has interests of the nation. We need leaders and not politicians.

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