The Illusion of Zambia’ s Independence

By Prof. Michelo Hansungule

The worst mistake some Zambians made since independence in October 1964 is to vote Edgar Lungu into power as republican president. Now, fifty-six years later, Zambia is on the brink of genocide of ethnic groups said to vote for the opposition.

Today at State House, they will be toasting to Zambia’s independence certainly. What will be in those glasses, white or red wine? No, they will be toasting the blood of all those young Zambians this regime has killed all for political expedience.
A number of Zambians are walking with bullets in their bodies, shot at by ruling party members and partisan police and security officials. Like those they killed in execution style shootings, all were unarmed.

Just this past week, a known party official donned in white clothes in the middle of senior police officers in Mpika in the north of the country was videoed throwing a big brick at the vehicle of UPND opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema who was in the area to support his incarcerated party officials. As I write, nothing has happened to this official. Police has video evidence with them and actually saw this party official throwing bricks at Mr. Hichilema’s convoy. This is just a small taste of levels of impunity in Zambia.
In the same week, wife of another opposition leader Chishimba Kambwili together with her daughter and other female opposition officials had their dignity blatantly violated as they bundled into police vans to prison in the most uncivilised manner.

What crime did these women commit? They wanted to attend court to listen to the application for bail by Chishimba Kambwili, their husband, father and party leader. It is a crime in Zambia under president Edgar Lungu for spouses, close family members and friends as well as the public, to attend court and witness the proceedings.

Mrs. Kambwili, her daughter and female opposition party officials were assaulted by hordes of old police men and women as they manhandled them into the police van like they were extremely dangerous armed criminals. It is amazing how police in Zambia operates.
Why should a young girl like Chishimba Kambwili’s daughter attract a large contingent of old police men and women to apprehend, arrest and throw into the van? Why should it be like this? Even I alone can apprehend and arrest that girl. Do Zambia police have any shame? Those Zambian police men who were indecently assaulting Mrs. Kambwili, her daughter and female opposition officials, how would they feel if we indecently assaulted their spouses, children and mothers?

As I write, a member of parliament from opposition UPND, Mr. Kangombe, is languishing in prison in the north of the country on trumped up charges of abduction of police officers. How one unarmed individual can abduct two police officers is beyond imagination.

So, what is there to celebrate Zambia’s independence-day celebration? Absolutely nothing. Just look at government’s own Financial Intelligence Centre Report which details massive levels of corruption at the highest levers of government as proof that unless you are mad, there is nothing to celebrate about. Don’t look at opposition statement, look at government’s own report to see how instead of serving people, those trusted with power in government are busy sharing state resources.

Someone said to me what about this infrastructure especially roads, isn’t it something to acknowledge and praise this government for? Of course the Chinese-led road infrastructure development is bound to confuse easy minds as ruling party ‘PF development’. It is not. If you read Chinese oversees development policy especially in Africa, it should be apparent even to the most stupid mind that the Chinese development in Africa is not based on African development policy but on Chinese development policy. Even if you put a frog as president in government, the Chinese will still grant that country development support. This is why Chinese development is not limited to Zambia alone but to all Africa and development countries as a whole.

In any case, the Chinese don’t give money freely neither do they have free money anyway. These are loans and will have to be repaid with our minerals, land, and other resources. They will have to be repaid with foreign policies by trading sovereignty at international forums so that the poor borrower state loses its freedom to vote on international issues as sovereign but to vote for China especially on such issues as one China policy.

Beyond China, Zambia is on the brink of defaulting on Euro bond notes and this week of our ‘independence’ the people that learnt us money in Europe are deciding on our fate on their loans because they are due for repayment and we have no money to repay them. So if you are celebrating at State House, we should negotiate ‘to pay you’ to our creditors because it means you alone know what happened to this money we have failed to repay?

Independence Day should be an occasion to pose this question: what happened to this money Europeans and now Chinese learnt us? Who took it and what should we do to them? The FIC report is first point of call in this investigation.

To return to the earlier point, Zambia is what it is now because some Zambians voted for Edgar Lungu as president, a man without any idea let alone experience even basic on how to run a country. Even Edgar Lungu did not vote for himself because he knew quite well and understands that he was far from presidential material. But despite this, those who believe in wasting their vote even if it means voting fir Kaunda’s proverbial frog voted for Edgar Lungu and now we are where we are.

Yet for half a century that she has been independent, Zambia has been missing from international stage because she has led a largely peaceful existence. Despite that we are now at cross roads on virtually everything, it is important on this Independence Day to remember that there was a time when things were right.

During Kaunda’s time, we had unity as spelt out in our founding document, the 1964 constitution. We were poor but not the way it is now and in any case everyone felt a sense of being Zambian. This is important natural step in building the country. Even presidents who followed like Frederick Chiluba, we had this sense of national belonging. Remember, for instance, how Chiluba went all the way to Namwala to pluck Robinson Nabulyato from retirement to make him Speaker of Parliament, just to implement this sense of unity? President Levy Mwanawasa, the economy started to run towards a new direction. He was able to instil a sense of hope.

But now, everything has collapsed. Ruling party cadres who will be the only ones celebrating the country’s independence are the only ones helping themselves to national resources. Institutions of government like police and judiciary have been rendered otiose that they can’t raise a finger against injustice even if perpetrated before their own eyes. If you look back to 1964 when we set out to construct the post independence state to now, now looks like we have not yet gained independence.
The central question is how did we come to this? The answer is precisely due to our foolishness. What do you expect to get if you vote for a frog into power? Kaunda was able to foresee long time ago that we are so stupid we will vote for a frog to power one day and it has come to pass. What an illusion of ‘Independence Day’!

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