By Lee Elias Tembo (Czech Republic)
The day was Saturday, month, October and the year 1964. The sky was so clear and the summer shining sun was as brighter as a new penny. It´s rays spiced up the jubilation, anxiety and expectations that had consumed the minds, bodies and souls of many people as news spread that the political, economic and social independence from the British government was around the corner. Indeed freedom was in the air! The taste of it was manifested by songs and dances from all the corners of the former Northen Rhodesia at the independence stadium.
A tall, handsome, charismatic and elegantly dressed young David Kenneth Kaunda stepped to the podium amidst cheers and standing ovation from the joyous crowd that had gathered to witness the event. Kaunda himself could not withhold tears of joy and tough responsibilities that lay ahead. He took oath and instruments of authority and independence from the queen´s representative, the princess royal. As soon as he articulately started to read his inaugural speech, thousands of attendees shouted “Kwacha” meaning the dawn – as they tearfully watched the magnificent red, black, green and orange Zambian Republic’s flag rising higher to replace the British Union Jack and mark the official birth of a new country called Zambia. It was one such unforgettable and joyous event that will go down in the history of our country.
However, 47 years anon, are our political leaders on the right track to fulfill the promises they have made to us when taking oath vis a vis providing basic social needs to all Zambians, respecting the rule of law, providing a conducive environment for a multi – partism, fighting corruption and other social ills and to rule our beloved country according to the ten commandments of God? To the contrary, we have been ruled according to their political selfish ideologies such as retribution of political opponents, appointments on the basis of ethnicity and other socially un-acceptable democratic tenets. Where is our current political direction taking us?
In 1964, Zambia was founded on the principle of unity whose slogan is “One Zambia, One Nation”. This meant that all the ethnic ethnic groups within the borders of an independent Zambia would enjoy the full participation, representation and implementation of core economic, social and political values for a better Zambia. Is that the case today? Politics of ethnicity such as the systematic exclusion of other ethnic groups from taking part in governmental responsibilities seem to have now enveloped our consciousness thereby undermining the very fundamental tenets of our independence strugle. All the four successive governments with the Patriotic Front (PF) making fifth, have had a share of blame with regards to their style of administration. The manifestation was and is for everyone to see.
The focus rather, is more on the current government as it is now the one entrusted with power and authority to command over all it´s citizens and lead the country out of abject poverty which for a long period of time has been our companion. Since the September 2011 victory by the PF, the current government is faced with very critical and delicate issues to immediately address. And if not given enough attention, handled intelligently and skilfully, the political future of our country hangs on a balance. The Barotse issue, alleged nepotism, retribution of political opponents, corruption allegations for the former ruling party members(MMD), interference in judicial matters have taken centre stage in our political dispensation.
Several commissions of inquiry have been instituted by the government of the day to investigate alleged corruption practices and bring the culprits to book. That´s a welcome idea in any democratic state, but concerns start to ring in people´s minds in cases were the findings are publicly castigated in strongest terms by people entrusted with power especially if it goes against their wish. Where are we heading as a nation? Retribution can never be a panacea to solving our current political, social and economic problems but rather could be a tool to divide, destabilise and undermine the very fundamental founding tenets of our independence struggle vis a vis respect of the rule of law, tribal mutual understanding, tolerance of other people´s political and social values and views.
The Author is an International development practitioner. He currently teaches English Language at ZŠ Porubská 832 (Porubská Basic School) in the Czech Republic. His first book “Africa in the eyes of Europe” is yet to be published.