It is the responsibility of every father, or whoever is head of the house, to provide for his family. This includes making sure that rent is paid, electricity and water bills are paid, for those who live in town, and mealie meal plus relish and other household needs are available, for those who live in the rural parts of the country.
Every family has the right to demand that the head of the house provides food and all groceries needed for their livelihoods. If the head of the house earns a decent income yet any of the necessary needs are missing in the house, the dependents have the right to complain and condemn such an irresponsible father or guardian. In fact, a father who enjoys the luxury of socialising with alcohol but fails to provide what is expected of him in the house doesn’t deserve any respect from family members.
However, this does not mean that when a father provides these necessities then he deserves special recognition, because what he has done is nothing but normal. That is his responsibility and there is no need to reward him for doing his job. Imagine clapping for your father on account that he has brought mealie meal on his way from work. It doesn’t make sense. As a matter of morality, a normal father should be upset if he has been failing to provide but his children are applauding him when he gets home, because it means they are fooling him.
We are puzzled that President Edgar Lungu doesn’t see things from this point of view in this case where the University of Zambia management is awarding him with an honorary doctorate for good leadership when they have not been paid their salaries, and a sister university on the Copperbelt has been shut down by the very recipient of the award. Surely, they must be fooling President Lungu and if he is as normal as we assume, he must take offence.
But even assuming that everything was okay at the two universities and all the other paralyzed institutions, what spectacular achievements are the proponents of this honor pointing at? They are saying President Lungu appointed the first female Vice-President, spearheaded the road infrastructure development, is helping families of the Gabon Air Disaster victims to get their compensations and that he has united Zambia by bringing back the One Zambia One Nation motto.
Let’s take it that all the above claims are accurate, (which is not the case) what can we point at as an achievement that was not expected of a Republican President? Is it an award winning decision for a President to appoint a woman as his deputy? Is it beyond expectation for a President to compensate families of those who died while on national duty? Is it not expected for a President to unite the country and provide roads as he promised in his campaigns? So what are you honouring him for?
Like we illustrated in the case of a household, a President is supposed to provide necessities for the citizens who elected him into power. It is his job and he gets paid a lot of money for it. Therefore, we have the right to condemn him if he does not do any of the listed objectives. A President who can’t do such tasks as is expected of him deserves to be condemned and removed from power.
It must be emphasised that, just as a family doesn’t expect a parent to provide beyond his means, no one is expecting that a President should churn out miracles from a magic box. All he has to do is use the available government revenue earnings prudently to ensure that all citizens benefit equitably. And we are paying Mr Lungu so many taxes for him to meet our demands.
We do not need to clap for the President for doing all those things, and therefore, giving him an honorary degree is such an insult to his little remaining integrity. We expected President Lungu to refuse this honour because it looks like a mockery to the rest of the citizens, not accepting and then say: “don’t call me Dr Lungu”.
What is worse is that the University of Zambia is totally divided on this issue. The lecturers’ union and the majority of managers are opposed to this idea. So it appears from an outsiders’ perspective that this is a decision that has been imposed on the institution, and since President Lungu has accepted something that was not given to him willingly, it is clear that he is behind the agenda to honour himself with this doctorate.
If President Lungu is that desperate for honours, he might as well ask his State House protocol officers to organize a swearing in ceremony where he can appoint himself State Counsel and swear himself in, because if he doesn’t do that for himself, he will never have that honour in his life, given his record.