VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga says despite the country attaining 56 years of independence, Zambia’s political and governance system has worsened and deteriorated.

In an interview, Mwaanga lamented that Zambia’s political landscape was now characterised by greed and lust for personal wealth rather than public service.

“We are just about to mark 56 years since Zambia attained independence from Britain on 24th October, 1964. Independence came at a high price. The brave men, women and youth, sacrificed their lives, their blood, toil and sweat, to achieve independence. This would not have been possible without the support of ordinary people, who gave freedom fighters, the encouragement to continue fighting under very oppressive conditions. The struggle knew no tribe and we all fought together and committed ourselves to uplift the living standards of our people, and I mean all the people, not just a few,” Mwaanga said.

“We came up with the national motto of ‘one Zambia, one Nation,’ because it was a unifying theme. This was put in practice in terms of cabinet appointments, civil service, diplomatic and parastatal appointments. The freedom struggle was about service to the country and our people as a whole. It was not about self-enrichment. When I look at what is happening at the political level today, I shed one or two tears because of the excessive greed and lust for personal wealth, which is nearly always extended to other family members and friends.”

He complained that endless insults, threats and political intimidation had become a norm on the current political landscape.

“The absence of any meaningful dialogue between our political leaders has introduced tension, hostility and even enmity, which is undesirable in what is supposed to be a democratic State. Insults, threats, intimidation, violence etc, have become the norm. There is an erosion of democracy, freedom of assembly, speech, freedom of press and human rights as we know them. This is an abomination! This is not who we are as Zambia. We represent something more noble and far better than this,” Mwaanga said.

“There is something seriously wrong with this current crop of political leaders, who are blind to the benefits of genuine political dialogue, which guaranteed us relative peace in the last 56 years. They should look at what Kenya has achieved as a result of dialogue and mutual respect among political leaders. Our recent history of national elections has been embarrassing in that we have had to deal with disputed disputed elections and aggrieved parties are not being heard in courts of law, as the Constitution of Zambia demands. The Public Order Act, as amended, is not being applied fairly to all the parties and is being subjected to very pedestrian interpretations. This has created a very uneven and unfair playing field.”

Mwaanga lamented that there was nothing to celebrate about independence as high levels of poverty, unemployment and debt had become unsustainable.

“We should mark 24th October as an important day. We have achieved a lot as a country in the past. There is very little for us to celebrate today, not only because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged our country and the world, because many of our people are struggling to put food on their tables. Unemployment is high, our medical facilities are failing to give our people the healthcare they deserve,” said Mwaanga.

“The high level of national debt has become unsustainable and future generations have been condemned to a debt trap, which has the potential to compromise the sovereignty of our country. Let us during the beginning of the 57th year of our independence manage our public affairs differently and better. Let us develop a spirit of love and togetherness for the sake of our country and people. Not to do so will be a dis-service and betrayal to our country, but to all those who sacrificed so much for our country to be free.”