Sometimes it feels like we are watching one of those Apartheid movies where black citizens are beaten into doing unpaid hard labour, while the minority white rulers are plundering national resources and living lavishly out of the sweat of the poor. But this is real and it is happening “black on black” right here in Zambia, in front of our eyes.
Some people don’t feel the pain of the Patriotic Front’s rule because they forget too easily. So we will put things into perspective for a few of our readers who may think we just condemn the PF without any basis for our criticism.
Here is the tale of the tape: President Edgar Lungu has increased his annual salary from K447,599 to K487,839, backdated to January 2018. This is right in the face of austerity measures announced by his own government. His ministers too have awarded themselves salary hikes.
Before this development, government refused to give in to the demands of better conditions of service from civil servants. So, no pay rise for the government worker. As if that is not enough, they banned these poor civil servants from commuting their own leave days to earn some extra income. Government doesn’t want a bloated wage-bill, unless that wage-bill is for Cabinet.
Next, the Patriotic Front government announces sudden cash deducted from civil servants’ salaries who were educated from government loans. While the government leaders are failing to meet the State’s obligation on loan repayments due to dwindling revenues, they start forcibly extorting debt repayment from civil servants.
In the face of this injustice, government goes further to increases the minimum wage of civil servants’ domestic workers to as high as K1,000 per month. So, the little that remains after all the deductions must be paid to the maid; and they say ‘if you can’t pay, don’t employ’ – forgetting that the government itself is failing to pay those that it has employed.
How can our government leaders persuade us to tighten our belts and face the harsh austerity conditions when the President with his ministers are paying themselves more, getting fatter and loosening their belts? This is evil of the worst kind.
This regime reminds us of the 1917 Russian Revolution tragedy that is well depicted in George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm”. The Patriotic Front’s rule is not any different from the rule of Napoleon at the Manor Farm.
Old Major dies just three days after proposing a rebellion. Three young pigs (Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer) lead the resistance. When the farm owner Mr. Jones gets drunk one night, the animals drive him and his men off the farm.
Together, the pigs write the Seven Commandments of Animalism, a new political philosophy that declares all animals equal. Under the pigs’ leadership, the farm animals work hard to bring in the harvest and build an idyllic society.
Snowball and Napoleon fight for power and control of Animal Farm. Napoleon uses specially trained dogs to run Snowball off the farm into exile.
Napoleon then makes false promises of comfort and prosperity to the other animals. But life gets worse on the farm, as the pigs assume the supreme role of Mr. Jones the farm owner, and a dictatorship is born.
In this tale, we see former President Rupiah Banda who was ousted from power, late president Michael who died shortly after the rebellion, President Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who fight for power and control of this country – leading to one being sent into prison. We hear President Lungu making false promises of comfort and prosperity to the hardworking people of Zambia and the poor civil servants whose sweat is being exploited by a full-fledged dictatorship that has changed all the rules.
When begging for votes, they told us that under the Patriotic Front, all ‘animals’ would be equal. They said no animal would kill another animal. But like the pigs on Animal Farm, they have altered the Commandments. Today, they are demonstrating to us that, although we were created equal, they are more equal than the rest of us. They get annual salary increments, but no pay rise for the civil servants, only more taxes from them and the voters. They promised that no ‘animal’ would kill another ‘animal’, but today they are saying they will not kill us without a good reason.
Listening to the cruelty and looking at the greed of the leaders whom they elected into power, the people of Zambia are left confused. They can’t tell the humans and the pigs apart, they were fooled and now they have no choice but to survive through a tyrannical regime of Napoleon, the Great Leader of This Great Country.