Leaders taking advantage of citizens’ silence on misrule – Maiko

Human Right Activist Maiko Zulu on UNZA radio during Lusaka Star program-picture by Tenson Mkhala

Human rights activist and reggae star Maiko Zulu says Zambia is currently experiencing a system breakdown, adding that citizens should speak out against the mismanagement of State affairs.

And Zulu says regime change can only benefit people if leaders who are committed to improving peoples’ living standards are ushered into public office.

In an interview, Zulu observed that majority Zambians were keeping quiet on issues affecting them, hence those in national leadership were taking advantage of them.

“I think there is need to rethink how people are governing the country because we can’t run away from the fact that things are not getting any better, things are getting very tough for all Zambians, starting with taxation; the cost of doing business; the cost of healthcare, things are really getting from bad to worse! It’s a wakeup call to us all as voters and just as citizens, now is the time that citizens need to speak out more than ever before. But, unfortunately, we do not have more citizens speaking out obviously for fear of intimidation, for fear of their small businesses being closed,” Zulu said.

“It’s a very sad situation in the sense that it’s also now affecting the freedoms of the people, such as the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly. We need to look at ourselves and see how citizens can become relevant again. Collectively, as citizens, we need to start demanding for answers on a lot of issues, such as where the money we pay as taxes goes because that money has to contribute to national development.”

He said it was difficult for government to be accountable if citizens did not pressure leaders.

“Citizens can push, but when you are living in a (developing) country like Zambia where the regime is stronger than institutions, then it’s always a problem. Because in developed countries, there are no such things as ruling party cadres doing this or that because systems are in place. If citizens do not demand that systems, which are in place are strengthened, then things will remain as they are and the greed will take advantage of the people and exploit them, scare them so that they don’t speak! Right now, we are talking of the law that has come in place about the national dialogue. Dialogue cannot just be a pen and paper thing; that’s why dialogue has failed because our leaders have failed to speak. You have one side, which is desperate to hold onto power at whatever cost; on the other hand, you have the other people who will do anything to get that power,” Zulu said.

He said regime change could only benefit citizens if people who were committed to improving peoples’ living standards were ushered into office.

“So, at the end of the day, we are blind to the realities of the people; our graduates are going with their papers without opportunities, they are suffering! So, we are producing citizens who are mostly frustrated; and that’s why you are seeing more cadres for political parties and hence we are seeing the violence. It’s a system breakdown. We need to find solutions as a country; if those in government can’t find solutions, we have to help them as citizens,” said Zulu.

“It depends on what kind of regime would come in. We are looking at capitalistic politics here and it’s very difficult for any capitalist to lead people in a way that the social structures will work for them. Sometimes, you find that you change the bottle, but it’ still the same wine. So, regime change can only come if people are ready to support the regime that they feel is the right regime. If people are going to sell their votes for disposable T-shirts in the name of regime change or holding on to one regime, then we will be missing the point.”

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