Listening to Professor Nkandu Luo campaigning in Mpulungu was quite difficult to stomach. According to her, the people of Mpulungu should not change government because change is dangerous. She says President Edgar Lungu loves the people of Mpulungu and so they should vote for him.
Prof Nkandu LUO: “You have seen us and we have started giving wealth back to the people. Change is very dangerous. Our friend who wants to come to state house, those who wear bright chitenge materials but I will not mention his name, the money he got from selling public property he has not even kept it in Zambia. Some of you might have heard that he is one of the richest men in Zambia…bla bla bla!”
We wish to remind Prof Luo that change and democracy walk hand-in-hand. One cannot exist without the other. Change without democracy is as meaningless as democracy is without change. People who live in a democratic country need to exercise their rights to choose leaders, even if it means making bad choices. It is okay in a democracy to vote for a bad leader because democracy gives bad leaders but it also takes them away.
If change was dangerous, as Prof Luo suggests, how would the PF have formed government in 2011? Is she saying change suddenly became dangerous after the PF took over office? In fact, if we were to agree that change is dangerous, we would only be saying so in the context that change has brought the country into the misery that it is in now. So Prof Luo should stop threatening our people and sowing a seed of fear. She should stop lying that PF is giving people wealth when in fact the opposite is true.
And talking about wealth, Prof Luo is not the only leader in PF who seems detached from reality. Listening to Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, popularly known as GBM, campaigning at the PF virtual rally was painful. According to him, President Lungu should be re-elected because Zambians are doing so well, that everyone can now all afford to drive a car and build a house. Mr GBM also argues that things are so good that there is no need to change government.
We know that its campaign season, but who are you helping by trying to convince people who are in misery that they are not suffering. Honestly, how many Zambians can afford a car with where the kwacha is now? And for those who own cars, how many can afford fuel month-end to month-end?
The shopping basket which could be filed with K100 can no longer be filed. The struggle is real for our people. This is what makes it fascinating when our politicians are falling on each other telling lies to our unsuspecting members of the public. Leaders such as Luo and GBM need not be trusted.
Whatever happens in this election, there are great lessons to be learned by our politicians, especially the ones who will happen to form government. There is one thing that our politicians must never forget, and that is that they are employed by the people. The most important duty of an elected official is to ensure that they remain in touch with those who elected them to try by all means to keep them happy. What we are seeing in the PF is the behavior of elected officials who have forgotten the electorate until the next election. They don’t have a clear explanation for their neglect of the people that elected them, so much so that now they are resorting to all kinds of manipulation. It is interesting to watch.
There is a Nyanja word that best describes how some of these politicians are behaving, which is difficult to interpret to English. That Nyanja word is kunyengelela. It explain the kind of greed which borders on deception or trickery. That is what our politicians in PF have now resorted to. Kudyela banthu masuku pamutu. That’s what it means when you tell a person who is suffering that, you can afford to buy a car.
There is also a lesson for those who may also find themselves leaving office. At the beginning of his term, President Lungu should have asked himself, ‘what is really important for our people? What do they need and how can we make their lives better?’ If all he did in the last five years was to sincerely ask those questions and try to provide honest answers, he would have found that he would have had a convincing case for re-election to present before our people.
But what seems to have happened over the last 5 years is that the people were forgotten and all that our politicians have been interested in is making money where they could. They have pushed very expensive infrastructure projects, most of which don’t make sense in the context of the national economy. They have really been running a “tigabane” project for the inner circle. And now the election is upon them, they don’t have a convincing story to tell.
The people they ignored and neglected in the last five years are threatening to throw them on the street. Like we said, there is a lesson to be learnt here. Those who form government must do so to serve people. So that even if they lose elections, they can go out with their heads high because they did their best to serve the people. Those who may be leaving should equally introspect.
The desperation that we are seeing in the PF is telling us that losing is not option for them. It appears that they are prepared to go to any lengths to retain power. This is unfortunate, this kind of attitude should have no place in a multiparty democracy.