My dearest young voter in Kabushi and Kwacha constituencies on the Copperbelt, I hope my letter will find you in reasonable good health and good mood. I am fine, and quite ashamedly, I must admit I am in very good health too. How I wish I could swap my good health with many a young person currently struggling especially with mental health as they struggle to cope with the challenges of life in Zambia!

I say “reasonable good health” because for many young Zambians, it is hard if not impossible to be in good health because of poverty. Many young people suffer unemployment – they cannot find jobs, try as they may. This means they do not have money regularly to get the things any young person needs to live a normal life and to be happy. Which all means that many young people in Zambia are always stressed and very worried about money and where to find it. Constant stress is bad health.

Usually falling sick, government clinics and hospitals hand out prescriptions for medicines to be bought in private chemists, because the government is not supplying our health facilities regularly with medicines. Young people die from perfectly treatable and curable diseases because our government clinics and hospitals have no medicines.Young pregnant mothers dread the day they will be in labour: they do not know whether the clinic and hospital they will be taken to will have nurses, doctors and all the medicines and bed space they may need, to deliver safely.

Your father or uncle, aunt or mother may have been waiting for their pension money for some time now, they have no idea when they will start receiving it. It takes longer than it should to travel to any town because the roads are badly damaged or they have “disappeared” altogether because government has no money to repair them.

Schooling would be so enjoyable if all government schools also run school feeding schemes, had all the text books and other school requirements for all school children in all grades, all the sports codes would be well supplied with the sports equipment and personal sports kits every child needed, constant repairs of broken desks, windows and doors done on time and very well by competent artisans, and above all of course, enough well paid and highly motivated teachers in all schools.

Alas, it is not like this. Many schools were last touched with paint a long time ago. Broken desks, windows, doors and many other unrepaired things are common in many of our schools. Our sports fields, sports equipment and personal sports kits all need attending to. What passes for books in a school library would not be welcome in a landfill for throwing away rubbish. It is the hunger all the time very visible on the faces of most school children that confirms how little lively learning takes place in our government schools.

These and many other bad things are the daily grind of a young person in Zambia today, especially if such a young person is from a working class or poor family. It is worse in the rural areas of course. There, they long gave up on life improving. It is as if many live in a live museum of pre independence Zambian human exhibits! Thin, in regular poor health, generally hungry and many more such horrible things are the daily experiences of young people.
Soon, dear young fellow, after all the noises and court processes and media circuses, the Kabushi and Kwacha by-elections will take place. A huge number of voters, hopefully, will turn up to cast their votes for their preferred candidates. Fortunately, the vote is secret, and so, every voter makes their mark freely on the candidate of their choice. It is the matter of the relationship between the poverty that affects many of our people, especially young people, and lying, thieving and corruption and our politics, I write to you all about.

It is about the power of your vote to punish liars, thieves and the corrupt politicians, and to improve the quality of services you receive from the government, that I write to you. It is simple really: every time you vote for a liar, you give power and a government job to an individual and political party that will never fulfil its promises to you. You hurt yourself by your vote! When you vote for someone who is known as a thief, you give power and the opportunity to a thief to steal from you!

You see, young voter, YOU are government! It is YOU who needs medicines in hospitals and who suffers when politicians and government officials and others steal money from government: because government will not buy medicines to put in our clinics and hospitals. When you vote for someone who is well known to be corrupt, you give power to someone who is going to take money away from government, put it in their pocket, and use it for themselves. This is the same money which government needs to mend roads, repair school doors, windows and desks, buy books, pay teachers and make sure the police have petrol for their vehicles to come and attend to you when you are attacked by a criminal at home!

It is so simple it is actually stupid: every time you vote for someone well known as a thief, or corrupt, YOU actually invite a thief to steal from YOU! Government does not fall sick and need medicines, it never goes to school, it does not die and get buried in a badly maintained cemetery! You do. It is YOU who risks your life travelling on roads littered with potholes and too dangerous to drive on. It is YOU who needs the police when thieves attack you. It is YOU who needs the courts to swiftly deal with your case. When you vote for liars, thieves and the corrupt, YOU enable these liars to get away lying to you, to steal from you, and to corruptly make themselves rich by diverting money meant for you into their pockets.

It is not true that all our suffering is caused by others, Some of it is caused and encouraged by ourselves such as when we give our vote to liars, thieves and the corrupt. It is not important which political party a liar, thief and corrupt politician belongs to, it is important that together with other young people we deny such politicians the power to go into government so that they can steal from us.

If we young voters, in all parties, simply stopped voting for liars, thieves and the corrupt, there suddenly would be fewer liars, thieves and the corrupt. The government would need less police, less, Anti-Corruption Commission investigators,less anti-Drug Enforcement officers and less courts, judges and all that. Can you imagine how much money government would save? Of course with less liars, thieves and the corrupt there would be more money in government going into medicines for clinics and hospitals, nurses, doctors and all health workers would be better paid, schools would be better look after and our teachers better paid and happier. Of course our roads would be better maintained and therefore there would be less accidents and deaths on our roads.

Do you see how important your vote is, young voter, for yourself, and not for the politician?
Look, now, these days, every day, we are hearing about politicians we voted for who somehow acquired more property and money than anyone would reasonably expect them to have, without involving in crime. Who gave these people the power to go into government and steal from us? It is us, especially you, the young voter; because you are the majority of voters in Zambia, and yet you are the hungriest, most unemployed and the poorest!

And so, from now onwards, will you stop giving your vote, your political power, to liars, thieves and the corrupt? If you don’t, you are hurting only yourself, and making liars, thieves and the corrupt rich, at your own expense! Don’t say I did not warn you! Look after your vote.

Your Uncle Azele.

(Talk to me at: [email protected])