It is wrong and a denial of objective reality not to appreciate some of the good things happening under the government of the UPND, led by Hakainde Hichilema. Doing so is both demoralising and a negation of our own capacity to deal with bad things: we Zambians who voted in August 2021 overwhelmingly rejected all the bad things the Patriotic Front (PF) and Edgar Chagwa Lungu were doing and replaced them with the UPND.
We must appreciate the UPND government’s resistance, so far, to violating our human rights and abuse our freedoms as the PF did, and the perpetuation of crude savage violence especially in our politics. The overall political climate in Zambia today is certainly not free of state oppression and domination, but it is far, far, far much better than it was under the PF and Edgar Lungu. We had been reduced to a people whose opposition parties could not meet in a house without fearing being arrested, under the PF.
It is also true that Zambia had fallen under the dictatorship of sections of our most desperate, uncouth and violent youths; the so called “party cadres”. We must, therefore not underestimate the goodwill of the UPND government in temporarily suppressing this Zambian subclass, especially in our major cities. On behalf especially of the middle classes and the well-to-do in Zambia, the UPND and Hichilema are doing a great job to wrestle control of markets, bus stations and internal governing political party authority, from this dangerous subclassor “party cadres”. To ignore this good will from the UPND government is to underestimate the political costs the UPND are incurring, by alienating the party cadres from their usual sources of livelihoods and enjoyment of their violently acquired political status and power, in Zambia.
It is also true that there has been an explosion of enjoyment of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, especially on social media. Typical of any explosion after years of suppression and being bottled up, it is impossible to escape some of the violence in the free speech, especially on social media. Some of this free speech is extremely shocking and totally unpalatable, especially to a middle class and well to do palate. Some of it is extremely good and has revealed a deep strong Zambian current of brilliant intellectual resources which the PF and previous regimes have forced underground.
We must appreciate the UPND, in spite of the pathetic and primitive ploy of targeting individuals for “punishment” by getting them reported in faraway places, arrested and transported to these “remote” places, to face defamation or similar charges. Trust me, should Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his evil PF not have been removed from power in August last year, our police cells and prisons would be bursting with Zambians jailed without trial on false charges. Some Zambians would be dead by now, following the political fallout, had Lungu and the PF refused to concede the most obvious defeat they suffered in the August 2021 elections.
It is also true that while it is impossible to escape the fact that, for obvious historical reasons, the majority of the individuals currently making headlines for being invited to appear before crime investigating and prosecuting organisations such as the Joint Investigating Team (JIT), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC ), the misnamed Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the Zambia Police are largely prominent PF people, it cannot be denied that these “good fellows” are being treated with kind kid gloves. I shudder to imagine how they would have been treated if the opposite was true and Lungu and the PF were in charge of government, and these were PF opposition people.
Some of these “good fellows” for whom the public court of justice long passed its verdicts that they are filthy rich, political idiots, corrupt and morally bankrupt, would probably be dead now, after languishing in detention, removed from their stollen comforts. Probably buoyed by the presence of “their boys and girls” in the crime investigating organisations, and the extreme weakness of the fight against corruption by the Hakainde UPND government, these fellows actually walk out of their interviews to explain their wealth as if they have actually won the lottery! Rather than shut their mouths and await the due process, they actually go on to enjoy the freedom of expression which they denied Zambians until August last year: they freely pronounce their innocence and challenge Hichilema, to a willing media that gives them audience.
It is also true that a drowning nation under the massive oppressive weight of mass youth unemployment should celebrate every job, even if it is merely a promise. The 42,000 jobs in the government for teachers and health workers must be welcomed by all Zambians, no matter how few and insignificant these jobs are to our struggle against the indignity of mass unemployment in Zambia today. Hakainde must be pushed to get the 42,000 Zambians into their work places quickly. I am not aware, and I am happy to be educated, of PF plans to employ at once such numbers of workers, into the government.
There are obviously several other possible things which have certainly changed for the better, and improved, with the coming into government of Hakainde Hichilema and his UPND very loud supper support choir. For resisting, thus far, to exploit the evil precedencies set especially by the PF and Edgar Lungu in brutalising and exploiting us as individual citizens of Zambia and as a national collective, it is extremely uncharitable, irrational and a complete disregard of the experience of our immediate past. We all have a duty to encourage Hichilema and the UPND not to succumb to the massive temptations the PF examples offer them, in abusing, suppressing, and oppressing us. To this extent, we all, I plead, must be grateful to the UPND and Hichilema for resisting torturing us, almost a year after they assumed office. Thank you, Hichilema, and UPND!
Could it just be possible that a potent toxic combination of pre-colonial African patterns of political authority, colonialism, deformed and backward Judeo-Christian theology and practices, the horrors of the one party state, undiluted poverty under multipartyism spiced by the PF and Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s ultimate rote and decay have produced an average Zambian always fearful of authority, extremely low on life expectations, devoid of mega ambitions and thoroughly dehumanised, so dehumanised that we actually celebrate what is perfectly normal and mundane human political behaviour?
Politicians and governments do not give us our humanity, dignity, human rights, and our freedoms. Our human rights and freedoms are not gifts or favours we receive from politicians and benign governments. We have them by virtue of being human beings. We are human because we have our dignity, human rights, and our freedoms intact.
Politicians and governments are sworn to uphold, defend and expand our humanity, dignity, human rights and freedoms. Go on, read the Constitution of Zambia from the Preamble to the last full stop and you will know this simple fact. Politicians promise us they will do all these things, before we elect them. Knowing our true character – a people with low expectations and fearful of authority, they go ahead and lord it over us, once we elect them into government. Our politicians have turned the tables around: instead of being custodians and defenders of our humanity, dignity, human rights and freedoms, and defenders of our democracy, they, when elected, immediately become the bearers of these basic human qualities as gifts to us.
If we must stop thanking politicians for the mundane, the ordinary and under performance on protecting our lives and freedoms, we must start by stopping to allow the situation to persist where, upon being elected into office, we somehow mystically think that the relationship with the elected politicians has changed; it has not: they are political beggars for the vote who have promised us they will be the best custodians of our humanity, for the period when they will be in office. Once this fact sinks into our collective psyche, perhaps we shall start genuinely advancing our humanity, rather than merely preventing government abuse, of our collective selves, by the politicians we entrust to govern on our behalf, as a people and country.
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