This is a government anchored on lawlessness and abuse of power.
For them it’s “boma ni boma”! Yes, boma ni boma, but their control of boma is not permanent – it changes hands quite so often.
Excessive reliance on boma is dangerous because when you lose control of it you become extremely vulnerable, naked and without protection. The best protection is not boma but doing the right thing, abiding by the rule of law. And as Douglas Syakalima correctly points out, strengthening the operational capacity and independence of public institutions like the Judiciary, Office of the Public Protector, the police and other law enforcement agencies.
One day they need the protection of these same institutions they have weakened, compromised and rendered useless.
“Colleagues, I call upon you; history is replete – let us create institutions of the State that will help society, not to make those who are not in government feel they are not protected. At the end of the day, governments change [but] the State remains,” Syakalima advises members of parliament, complaining that budgetary allocations to the Office of the Public Protector were dwindling every year.
“Her Honour the Vice-President, the challenges you have talked about of this institution, you said them last year. One would have expected that you don’t say them anymore! Three years down the line, you have been saying the same things. They don’t have office space, you said it last year, they don’t have vehicles, you said it last year. So, why did you come back again to come and say the same things? What is your motivation?”
It’s true that since the Patriotic Front came to power, especially under Edgar Lungu, oversight institutions have been systematically weakened and compromised. Look at the state of the judiciary! Look at how the police has been reduced to a security wing of the Patriotic Front!
Syakalima is right when he says, “If they had a way, they could have closed the Anti-Corruption Commission, if they had a way they could have closed DEC (Drug Enforcement Commission), if they had a way they could have closed FIC (Financial Intelligence Centre). Make these institutions normal, to become strong because you’ll need them on your way out. You will still run to the Office of the Public Protector [and] they will tell you ‘we have no vehicle to investigate.’ It is rosy today because you are in power… [But] history has taught us, especially in Africa, [that] when people lose power they run around like headless chickens or headless rats. When you are in power, learn to protect yourself and protecting yourself is to make sure that institutions of the State are strong so that when you are out, you have a fall back. The very people today that escort you with guns will be the ones to deal with you. But you must have a fall back.”
But are these people ready to listen to such advice?
Soon they will find themselves with no hiding place.