Mbabala UPND member of parliament Ephraim Belemu says politicians are not the right people to educate citizens on morality and national values because they are not loyal.
Debating President Edgar Lungu’s speech to Parliament on morals, principles and national values, Belemu said the President’s speech and the actions of his government were not matching.
“Since this motion came on the floor of the House, I have been wondering as to really the essence of a politician as provided for in the constitution to be the one that espouses morals and ethics in this country. Because in today’s Zambia, it’s very unlikely that citizens out there can trust a politician who’s in leadership to espouse morals, ethics and patriotism. If today we went to UNZA and asked those students that not too long ago had an incidence where some of them lost their lives and others injured permanently as to whether politicians are the correct people to espouse morals and ethics in this country, chances are that the answer will be negative. In another incident, not so many months from that UNZA incident, an incident happened in Sesheke where only politicians are involved and within a record time, action is taken, whether wrong or right. But in the case of those officers that caused death at the University of Zambia, as we speak today, they still roam our streets like she-elephants. Then as politicians and leaders, we want to think that we can espouse morals and cultivate a moral valued society,” Belemu said.
“I think we need to question ourselves, we need to seek our consciences and really, what do they tell us? The President is in his speech made reference to loyalty, patriotism… I want to believe when he talked about loyalty and patriotism, he was making reference to our loyalty to the country and not to an individual or loyalty to a party that is in government or to any other thing other than our country and collectively as a people. If it’s loyalty to the country, if it is patriotism to the country, I think the big question that we have as politicians to ask ourselves is what happens when it’s those in power who betray the trust of citizens by becoming unpatriotic and disloyal to the nation?”
Belemu charged that the PF government was not fit to preach about morality and patriotism because its officers were disloyal, unpatriotic and had betrayed the country’s values and principles.
“I don’t think there is patriotism to send armed police officers into a university and students are teargassed to death. I don’t think there is patriotism in one ministry over 30 people being suspended on suspicions of embezzling public funds. I don’t think there is patriotism in running a government where every year, the Auditor General’s report reveals issues of misapplication of funds, and the people who commit such crimes are still roaming the streets like she-elephants with no attempt to take them to the court. I don’t think that’s patriotism on the part of the government,” Belemu arged.
“So that’s the missing link in the President’s address. What should we do? We are citizens, we have watched individuals go against the law. As we stand here today there are people that are living with bullets in their buttocks at the ends of State Police, then you go to that person and say ‘as a politician I have come to preach to you about morals’, they will turn their back and show you the wound. So in my view, citizens must rise against anyone who becomes unpatriotic, me included, government included. We cannot come here every year to talk about patriotism, deceive our people that as politicians we can espouse patriotism and loyalty to the country when we are not loyal ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Belemu challenged the PF government to do the right things instead of banning people from telling the world about the bad things they were doing.
“I have spent much of life trying to promote the image of this nation but more specifically for tourism and I am committed to the call. But again, does that mean that when a government that is in power at that particular time begins to abuse its citizens, I must not speak out because I am fearing that I will damage the image of this nation? In the current era of information and technology, do I even need to go to South Africa to tell them what is happening in this country? This is something that you must be cautious of you colleagues that are in ruling party. If you don’t want anyone to speak ill of this country then behave correctly, no one will anything against you. In any case, its quite heavy to speak against someone who is elderly but now we should have our own consciousness to know that this is wrong and this is right. I will tell you what we shall not be, at least for me, I will not be a praise singer for a government that has chosen to abuse it’s citizens variously. I will not be a praise singer for a government that has gone against the will and wishes of people. We put government so that they serve us and serve people, not that they can abuse us,” said Belemu.