Every now and then, we find ourselves faced with the responsibility of looking around to identify at least something that the Patriotic Front government is doing well; something that deserves recognition and praise. This is not an easy job because almost every positive development coming out of our government is a by-product of corruption.
But be that as it may, we would like to develop a habit of spotting a sector where we can see growth and treasure it. One such area where we have seen tremendous development is the road infrastructure. We want to emphasize that we are fully aware of the fact that this is the sector where corruption is manufactured, and so we are here to only talk about the resulting by-product.
Roads have been built by this regime more than under Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and even Rupiah Banda’s governments combined. Granted, the last governing president of the MMD can be credited for conceiving some of the projects in his final year in power, as he was also hoping to gain public endorsement for his continued stay in office. But we recall how passionately late president Michael Sata passionately spoke about building a truly interconnected road network across the country.
It was Michael Sata’s dream that when you want to visit Muchinga from Chama, there must not be a reason to navigate through the Luangwa Valley all the way to find Cairo Road in Lusaka before switching to Great North Road. In the same vein, those wishing to travel from Mongu needed a way of going to Livingstone via Senanga, Sioma, Katima Mulio and proceed to the East without passing through Lusaka. That is what Sata promised to do for the people if they voted out the MMD.
Indeed today, one can attest that although a majority of our citizens who live in these far flung areas do not own vehicles, the roads are there yawning for traffic as they link key towns. Of course there are roads which have been deliberately neglected for political reasons, but over and above, we believe that the PF has delivered on this promise.
In Lusaka, the urban roads development programme has actually brought about a new wave of traffic congestion problems. We are seeing Chinese closing off roads which they are expanding from single lane to dual carriageway. Burma Road, Chilimbulu Road, Mumbwa Road, Great North Road, Ring Road, to mention but a few, look totally transformed. It feels like you are in a different city, especially at night when the streetlights are shining the way.
This development may never hear any single praise from government critics, especially among opposition political parties. The well lit road that goes to Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s house in New Kasama is part of the PF’s urban roads development programme, but we won’t hear him appreciate, on grounds that all this is just by-product of PF corruption. The truth is that when we use these roads, we know it in our hearts all of us who are disgusted by the Patriotic Front’s criminality, that while they are stealing, we are grateful that they are leaving us some good roads.
To us, on a scale of 1-10, we give the PF an emphatic 8. Not 10 out of 10, for the simple reason that even this dubious development is selective and tied to regional politics. If the PF can give Easterners an entirely brand new Highway from Nyimba all the way to Chipata, but struggle to even patch up the Kafue- Mazabuka road which is taking motorists to the grave every month, then there is a problem.
So, why are we praising criminals today? Well, because we have seen what is happening in nearby countries where you hardly see any construction sites. Infrastructure development is stagnant and the roads are not receiving any attention since the early years after Independence; yet the politicians there are getting loans too and stealing just like our own are doing here in Zambia.
Yes, the PF leadership borrows US$50 million for a road project worth US$20 million, spends only US$10 million on it and pockets the rest. But we have hit rock bottom in terms of morality among our politicians in Africa, to an extent that we have to acknowledge the consequential benefits of corruption.
On Roads, the PF has delivered. Sadly, Zambians will have to pay through the nose to settle the debt accrued for the construction of these tarmacs, because the leadership that has succeeded Sata is a mafia regime that cares only about intestines. We know that because of this infrastructure development and road sector growth, Zambia is in bigger problems that it was during Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda. But even a judge rewards a convicted criminal with leniency in mitigation. We are happily sad for the good roads you are making ba Pompwe!