An opinion By Henry Kyambalesa-The forthcoming Chitambo Parliamentary by-election set for August 13, 2009 should provide an opportunity for the people in Central Province to vote for a candidate from an opposition political party to join Parliament. Voting for an MMD candidate will be a sheer waste of votes.
Zambians need to realize that the MMD will not bring about any meaningful socio-economic development in the country. Its leaders are all intoxicated by an unquenchable desire to maintain power at any cost by using chiefs, public resources and intimidation by the party’s leaders and hooligans.
This is one reason why the party has failed to address the people’s demands for a smaller and more efficient government, free formal education without Grades 7 and 9 elimination examinations, no examination fees, merit-based scholarships for vocational training and university education, low-interest educational loans, free life-saving healthcare for all Zambians, greater and sustained food security, greater employment opportunities, lower PAYE and value-added taxes, lower interest rates, safer local communities, improved infrastructure, privatization of the public mass media, lower water charges and electricity tariffs, and a genuine effort to address the scourge of corruption.
We should, however, thank them (the MMD) for spearheading our beloved country’s transition to multi-party democracy and economic liberalization, just as we should also acknowledge the role played by UNIP in Zambia’s struggle for independence. But if we are to reap the benefits of our country’s independence, democracy and economic liberalization, we need new political players; we cannot afford to depend on some of the current crop of politicians – many of whom are clueless figureheads!
We desperately need leaders who are going to have a clear social contract with the citizenry – a contract with specific projects and programs, and a timetable when such projects and programs should be expected to take off and/or completed. Otherwise we will continue to be fed on stories of Vision 2030 and the like.
There should, of course, be no doubting the importance of sound long-term planning to our country’s future, and to the well-being of future generations. But such planning should be balanced with the needs of our generation because in the long run, to paraphrase the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, we are all going to be dead! For this reason, we need politicians who are keen on devising schedules for implementing some of our short-term and medium-term projects and programs in order to strike a balance between our needs and expectations, and the needs and expectations of future generations.
As I have always maintained, heightened and sustained socio-economic development will not come to Zambia like manna from heaven; it will need to be adequately planned for and diligently pursued. Basically, this will require a passion for radical change, and leadership with both vision and compass.
Change, as experience and observation have taught us, is a fact of life; all living things must adapt to the demands of their environments and their own stages of growth. History is full of examples of plants and animals which have become extinct because of their inability to change when it became necessary. This fact of life applies to countries as well; if they cannot change in order to align their goals, aspirations and development strategies to the dictates of local, national, regional, and global socio-economic conditions, therefore, they are not likely succeed in improving their people’s standards of living. And our country is no exception!
But in spite of this obvious fact of life, we are all generally and naturally resistant to change. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we have tended to lend a receptive ear to the rehearsed warning by the MMD that we should not experiment with leadership – a warning we will soon start hearing as we get closer to the 2011 general elections.