Life is like a pen we use to write down notes in the chronicles of our daily activities. Like a pen, we write our legacies by the way we live our lives.
The legacies we write are left behind to those who follow us. For this reason, we are remembered for what is woven into people’s hearts not for the fine handwritten engraving in our tombstones.
Since independence 1964, we have had five heads of State; Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and the current Michael Sata, each with a unique legacy.
Kaunda is woven into people’s hearts for his contribution towards conflict resolution and liberation struggle.He made it a policy to support other countries in the area of conflict resolution, an indelible vestige of his legacy.
He also enforced integrity in his regime by demanding for accountability and transparency among his cronies. Unfortunately, calling for integrity and resolving conflicts on their own cannot create a noble legacy.
Kaunda had austere flaws that dented his legacy. He was an autocrat, and tumbled-down the economy. His grisly political and economic legacy is much more important than his liberation account. Through his left nationalist-socialist ideology he sparked off the economic quagmire we are still struggling to deal with today.
He inherited a flourishing and balanced economy, with strong economic growth and high quality employment. Through his bad policies he drove the economy in a direction that ultimately landed it to the bottommost of the ladder of world economies. There is nothing that will rub this off from his legacy.
In the 1970s Kaunda developed clearly tyrannical characteristics. He became exceedingly intolerant of the opposition and bulldozed his new constitution that barred other political parties from operating, locked up, and allegedly tortured many people with divergent ideas from his left nationalist-socialist philosophy.
Many people felt betrayed by Kaunda as many would feel deceived today if Sata was to ban other political parties. He designed his legacy using totalitarian tools.
Chiluba is remembered for leading the country back to multiparty democracy. He made Zambians win back the freedom to express their different political views without fear of persecution. This helped people to have a voice and difference in opinions that ultimately led to more freedom.
Under Chiluba’s leadership power was shared and there was no person with too much influence to run the country as he pleased as we are experiencing it today. Chiluba’s leadership made Zambia a beacon of democracy in Africa.
He also opened up Zambia to the rest of the world by removing barriers to international investing andrestrictions in the flow of resources. The liberalization of the economy reduced the political risks to investors thus attracting diverse and more foreign investments.
Hated or loved, Chiluba laid the foundation for the effects of liberalization that were starting to provide new opportunities for diversification and profit during Mwanawasa and Banda’s leadership.
On the other hand, Chiluba will be remembered for being spendthrift and careless in handling the process of privatisation. The transfer of ownership of some companies, agencies, public service and public property to the private sector was done in an ungainly and reckless manner making it difficult to offer basic services to the poor masses.
He will also be remembered for leading a corrupt regime. He had no political will to tackle corruption. Like the current regime, he had no acuity on how to develop anti-corruption reforms to provide for a credible accession process.
Mwanawasa will be committed in people’s memories for rebuilding the economy. For instance, he breathed life in the mining industry.Local communities were increasingly seeking economic benefit from mining activities through equity stakes. His good policies were starting to influence infrastructure development, job creation, and improving communities’ ability to supply services and goods.
Mwanawasa also promoted the rule of law in its most basic form. There was no one above the law as we are seeing it today. He also focused on fighting corruption though not in a convincing manner.He lacked pragmatic approaches that would addresses the many causes, facets and structural issues of corruption.
Banda will be remembered for growing the economy. It was during his tenure that employment and corporate profits started growing strongly. He increased the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stabilised the economy that it experienced constant growth and single digit inflation.
It was Banda who improved efficiencies and enabled democracy to flourish and delivered on its promises including political participation. He delivered on human rights, access to justice, an improved quality of life, a healthy environment, and personal security.
His leadership style was all-encompassing and responsive, and fostered a chi of oneness across regions. His vision went beyond tribal and regional precincts and headed an all-embracing cabinet, a ‘president for all Zambians’.
Banda will also be remembered for his excellent international relations and for bringing grandeur, stateliness and decorum to the presidency.
Unfortunately, his regime became complacent and stopped listening to the poor masses. His government stopped educating itself in new ways of doing things and adjusting its style to deal with the needs of the electorate.
Banda’s regime also failed to look at itself from all angles and kept afloat a corrupt system. His government had a sterile public service anti-corruption strategy to give effect to his expressed commitment of his regime to fight corruption in the public service.
Sata’s legacy is a ‘black book’. It is even difficult to concoct or fabricate a positive vestige to link to the legacy he is creating.
He will be remembered for being a dictator, tribalist, violator of fundamental rights and constitution, illiterate and leader of the most corrupt regime in Zambia.
Sata will be remembered for lack of vision thus characterising the presidency withobstreperous comedy when there are serious national issues that require serious policy direction. He will be remembered for being the most self-serving and greedy president who increased his salary and allowances by more than hundred per cent, built his retirement house even before he retired, allocated the first lady an unconstitutional K1.5 billion tax payers money to spend without government supervision.
He will also be remembered for deceiving the electorate. He trekked around the country making irrational promises just to u-turn on them. He now spends most his time concealed in State House instead of being with the people he is called serve.
Sata will be remembered for the current and worsening common signs of economic instability; high commodity prices, shortage of goods, rising inflation and volatility in currency exchange rates.
He will be remembered for a decline in consumer confidence, stunted economic growth, and reduced international confidence.
One wonders if Sata knows that the heirs of his legacy are not just his children and family but the Zambian society as a whole, the people whose lives he is called to serve.
Sata should look at how he is carrying himself and the kind of legacy he is creating. What legacy will he leave behind if he continues on this hideous course?
One of his flaws is lack of good prioritisation, which misdirects his energies in senseless activities such as inducing by-elections and incarcerating opposition leaders. Unfortunately, this is the legacy he is designing for himself and what he will be remembered for, ideally, in a way that many Zambians do not desire.
What will Sata gain to conclude his presidency with a negative legacy?
A positive legacy can never be achieved simply by getting into State House. It takes candour and understanding of what legacy one wants to create and how to achieve it.
Sata has numerous opportunities to inspire people. Unfortunately, most of his encounters result in negative experiences due to his unexamined leadership.
A question that implores for an answer is whether the negative legacy he is creating is intended? If not, it then shows that his legacy is moored on bad principles and decisions.
Regrettably, Sata has no aptitude to stop and think how he wants to be remembered. As a result, he is squandering opportunities to create a positive legacy.
All things considered, a self-audit is necessary because what Sata is currently achieving is not a valuable legacy.
What is more worrying is that he seems not able to think or care or appreciate a positive legacy. Socrates once said, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’.
As long as he does not take concrete and rational steps to create a positive legacy, Sata’s legacy will be at odds with people’s aspirations and expectations of their leader in a democratic society.
Eventually, his anarchic and high-handed leadership today possibly will, in future, be regarded as important eno