The Head of State remarked during the commissioning of the MISSOIL Processing Plant in Mambwe District, Eastern Province, that Zambians were failing to develop their inner potential to improve their living conditions but were fast to say “boma ilanganepo”.
“I am very impressed with what I have seen, I say I am impressed because I have heard people say ‘we are suffering’. But then I ask them ‘what are you doing to get out of that box of suffering which you are trapped in?’ because we all have it within ourselves to improve ourselves but most people want Boma ilanganepo (the government should look out for us), boma ilanganepo bwanji? Me I tell them that we are simply here to create an enabling atmosphere or environment that is convenient for you to be able to identify your potential,” said President Lungu.
“What I am seeing is that Zambians have a talent of complaining and complaining and complaining, the truth is that we can break out of any suffering just like this lady (founder of MISSOIL Processing Plant) has risen from nothing to where she is now where she has employed a lot of people. Let’s identify our different talents and capabilities so that we partner with those that have further knowledge so that we develop our potential.”
President Lungu has a valid point. It is not right for people to just sit and wait for the government to do everything for them. But again, there is a very valid reason why people have the right to demand for help from their government, as they strive to survive.
When God created human beings, He gave each one of them a special talent which they could use to survive whatever harsh environment they may be faced with. God did not create governments. He created leaders by giving certain human beings the talent of solving problems, the ability to tolerate weaknesses in others and the heart of sacrificing for others. But he definitely did not create a single government.
For many thousands of years when people were hunter-gatherers and small-scale farmers, humans lived in small, non-hierarchical and self-sufficient communities. In some cases, a chief of a tribe would be selected by various rituals to test the strength or talent of individuals to lead others.
With the increase of populations, the desire to control water, land and other agriculture resources became a catalyst for the development of social, economical and political structures; which later developed to be what we call governments today.
Governments are the institutions which people with the desire to lead others, like President Lungu, conjured up with the intention of maintaining what they referred to as collective interests. Under this civilized system of governance, it is the people who finance government operations. Not just the working class, but every citizens who buys or sales products at a market place. These people pay all forms of taxes to enable the government protect the so-called common interests.
That is what gives the people of Mambwe District the right to make various types of demands to President Lungu, the man who is in charge of their national and natural resources. It is not out of laziness that they say “Boma ilanganepo”.
We don’t believe that there is a single citizen of this country who just sits at home waiting for a government messenger to knock on the door with a plate of free nshima. Zambians are not as lazy as our President is trying to portray them. We work hard to survive, but it is the responsibility of government to provide basic human needs to the population.
But because of selfishness and greed, our government has violated the principal of rewarding the taxpayer by providing basic human needs and necessities like clean drinking water, health facilities, education etc. That is why you see a Head of State getting irritated when citizens say “Boma ilanganepo”.
When a leader of a country is irritated by demands from the population to provide basic human needs, it means he lacks the talent to lead others. It means he does not have good leadership qualities and does not recognize the fact that “Boma” is the people themselves. When citizens say Boma ilanganepo, they are simply making a request that part of their money should be used to fix a particular problem in their locality.
So we do not agree with President Lungu when he says his role ends at “simply creating an enabling atmosphere or environment that is convenient for citizens to be able to identify their potential”. God already created a perfect atmosphere and environment for all of us to identify our potential.
President Lungu owes the citizens of this country a responsibility to distribute the country’s resources equitably, with a priority towards the most needy and vulnerable. He needs to ensure that government provides services to people including those that don’t like him.
But to be able to do that, President Lungu first needs to identify his own inner potential. This brings us to a very cardinal question that we must seek to answer as we strive to survive under this regime. What is our Head of State Good at? What is his talent? What special gift does our President have that distinguishes him from the rest of us and makes him a suitable person to lead us?