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‘Zambia now faces some tough choices’

It’s very clear that Edgar Lungu and his minions don’t care about what happens to this country and our people after they have left office.

The future nation doesn’t bother them and owes them nothing. They are only concerned about today. And moreover, even if this country is brought to its knees economically after they have left office, it won’t be them to deal with the crisis. They will simply claim credit for all the infrastructure that has been constructed at an exorbitant cost and disown all the debt associated with it that will be wreaking havoc.

They have financially and politically benefited heavily from this gigantic national debt and the infrastructure construction projects. They are the contractors and sub-contractors. They give themselves government contracts and then discount – making a lot of money without doing anything. Actually, Edgar and his minions have personally benefited more from these infrastructure projects and debt than the country.

The scourge of corruption in Zambia today has gone beyond being a matter of law and order. The notion of law and order applies to a state of society where the vast majority of the population respects the rule of law, and where the law enforcement agencies observe laws that limit their powers. Maintaining law and order implies dealing firmly with occurrences of theft, violence, and disturbance of peace, and rapid enforcement of penalties imposed under criminal law and by constitutional mandate.

But what is happening in Zambia today is that Edgar and his minions, instead of acting according to, supporting and promoting law, order, and constitutional rule, have abdicated that responsibility. Their government has itself become a thief that steals. Under this government, syndicated thieving has become the very purpose of government, because government has become an instrument that protects itself from the consequences of its own transgressions. Edgar’s government has rendered dysfunctional the processes of state that would establish proof of its own criminality. That is why it has become a matter of absolute importance that all Zambians recognise at this moment the necessity to rescue their country and themselves from kleptocracy that has consolidated in the last three years into an organised criminal order that willfully defrauds the state. This order has infiltrated the Zambian civil service, and other constituent institutions of governance, with a pervasiveness that has enabled organised criminality to aspire to function with a legitimacy akin to that of a lawful state. It performs outward gestures of legitimacy, such as government delegations flying all over the world to intergovernmental summits, but with diminished public trust in the legitimacy of their pursuits.

And as Prof Oliver Saasa aptly puts it, “Zambia now faces some tough choices that will determine how the economy and the lives of ordinary Zambians play out over the next decade”.

“The real price will be paid by ordinary Zambian people who will see their living standards fall and the public services they rely on deteriorate. Poverty in rural and urban areas will increase and inequalities worsen. Furthermore, this will not be a short-lived phenomenon; bad times could last for several years,” says Prof Saasa.

Indeed, tough decisions have to be made to stabilise our debt and restore our economy to health. If we don’t make tough decisions today, our children are going to have to make much, much tougher decisions tomorrow.

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