I must say that Dr. Sishuwa is a prolific writer and researcher with potential of being A rated. I have followed his exploits from the time he was a student at UNZA to-date. His last article I read was his eulogy for Andrew Sardines (may his soul rest in internal peace). I have been compelled to respond to Dr. Sishuwa’s latest article entitled “This is why Zambia may burn after the August elections”. Let me out rightly say that at the risk of being misunderstood, Im responding to Dr Sishuwa in my capacity as a concerned citizen and also as a parent.
I have a different opinion from what the Dr. says concerning Zambia likely to go into flames after the results of the forthcoming elections particularly because 1) stakes are high and 2) silence of the international community including the United Kingdom. Those two are my departure points from what he says.
Firstly, I don’t find his article to be an opinion or prediction but advocacy in the sense that prediction is a science informed by well established systems, approaches or models. An opinion is also informed by documented history or events that can be traced to help form an opinion. The article in question lacks any of those two to qualify to be an opinion or prediction, that’s why I think it can be classified as advocacy.
When he says that this year’s election has high stakes that’s why he sees Zambia likely to burn, let me remind Dr. Sishuwa that this is not the first time Zambia is having high stake democratic elections.
We had the 1991 elections in which the party and its government (PIG/UNIP) lost power to an opposition party MMD and no high scale political unrest was experienced. Zambia as a country and her lovely people prevailed above all interests.
In the 2001 democratic elections, a well known opposition party took a clear early lead only for things to change at the 11th hour. Emotions and tempers were high among political players, it was a high stake election but reason and peace prevailed above everything else. Zambia and her people triumphed.
When the late President His Excellency President Micheal Sata lost a high stake election, some of his supporters took to the street to cause anarchy, but he prevailed over them and called for peace. Zambia once again prevailed above any other interests.
Not long ago, 2011, the country experienced one of the closely and hotly contested elections in which a party in government lost to an opposition party. Jubilant scenes in the streets of our mother land and at the same time, emotional and heart touching pictures of an out going President shading tears in front of local and international media. That was one of the high stake elections in the history of this country, but Zambia did not experience any unrest but peaceful transfer of power. Again, peace and reason prevailed above all interests.
In all these elections, the institutions that Dr. Sishuwa is mentioning and possibly discrediting managed and delivered results that were internationally accepted. The August elections will mark 30 years of democratic dispensation since 1991, as such, it’s my belief that as a country we have 30 years experience of managing elections. This makes the country to deliver an election without any difficulties as systems may have improved in terms of human resource and technology than they were previously.
History shows us that we are a people of reason, democratic and peaceful. No matter our differences, difficulties and challenging situations, we have a country and generations to protect. Zambia has always risen above her problems and has set good example to the world of what democracy should be in a third world country.
Even this time, Zambia will not allow losers of the forthcoming election to turn the country upside down. Zambia is our heritage and we also owe it to future generations.
Second point of the international community staying aloof, or being quiet on internal matter. In any case, there’s no good reason for them to meddle in our internal affairs.
Quite right, we need them their support, we need their money but not to the extent of losing our sovereignty or losing our rights.
Zambia needs to wane itself from the dependency syndrome. We need home grown solutions to our problems not solutions to come from abroad. Probably that’s why we are what we are today financially or economically because we have depended on foreign donors for a long time.
Dr Sishuwa should also bear in mind that those countries he is mentioning to have pulled out or reduced their budgetary support also have internal economic problems exacerbated by Corona virus.
Additionally, international politics are dynamic and foreign policies change from time to time. Case in point, COVID vaccines have been nationalized and be few poor countries have been given the vaccines or America first. Anyway, that’s for another day.
So, the pulling out or reduction of donor aid presents us as a country an opportunity to find home grown solutions. It should not be seen as a bad thing to happen to the country but as a window of opportunity. As the Bemba adage says “ubuchushi upela amano”. The late Tanzanian President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli showed Africa and other third world countries was still alive on the importance of self reliance. We can research on his works and the works of several other intellectuals who have extensively written on donor aid and its implications.
Having said all that, we need to emphasize that we have one Zambia and one nation. We have been a democratic country for a long time, we have experienced high stake election before and reason and peace has always prevailed above any other interests.
Zambia will not go into flames because of people losing an election, ivo veve sivizachitika.
The author has studied Journalism, International Relations and also holds a Masters Degree in Environment Society and Sustainability from the University of Cape Town.