[By Tuesday Bwalya]
THE current Patriotic Front (PF) government has brought more harm than good to our country.
It can boast of infrastructure development projects but the fact remains that it is a despotic and tribal government. Its deeds fit into the description of a tyrannical and tribal government. The PF government has shrunk the democratic space for opposition parties, unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country.
This government does not want the opposition to mobilise support and to campaign; it wants a Zambia with no opposition parties. The PF government also wants unions that are its surrogates, and not unions that speak against its ills. In addition, PF party and government officials have perpetrated high levels of tribalism in this country through spoken words and actions.
This is not what many Zambians wanted to see. The founding fathers of PF too never wanted to see this. It is unfortunate that the PF party and government have become despotic and tribal in the manner they are managing the affairs of the country.
How could a government anchored on democratic principles deny the opposition parties space to campaign freely in a by-election? The happenings in Chilubi where the PF through the Zambia Police cancelled the earlier approved programmes for the United Party for National Development (UPND) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) is tantamount to despotic rule.
The reason given by the police was that President Lungu was in Chilubi and that for his safety, no opposition leader should be in the constituency. This is a crazy reason and it confirms that indeed Zambia has descended into dictatorship. This is worse than the one-party participatory democracy under Kenneth Kaunda where everyone belonged to the ruling party, the United National Independence Party.
How could the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) under the watch of Mr Patrick Nshindano allow this madness in Chilubi? Like the NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili said, the electoral Act does not mandate the Zambia Police to manage elections; the police is just a stakeholder. This is dictatorship in black and white. Shame on the ECZ and police for allowing the PF to use you so that it goes unopposed in the Chilubi by-election. Posterity will judge harshly the leaders of ECZ and the Zambia Police Service.
It has also become clear that the PF government is allergic to critical unions in this country. In this regard, it has sought to ban the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU). The government compelled UNZA management to initiate the process of terminating the recognition agreement it had with UNZALARU by writing to the Labour Commissioner. The crime UNZALARU committed under the PF government is to speak against delayed salaries and gratuities for its members.
Last week, the Labour Commissioner approved UNZA management’s request to terminate the recognition agreement. To UNZA management, I wish to say that you are the biggest loser, not lecturers. UNZALAURU used to help you in many instances to get something from the PF government. You have been used to kill your partner in the name of UNZALARU, and sooner or later you will realise your mistake.
The withdrawal of UNZALARU recognition agreement under the instigation of PF politicians is another example how the PF government has become a dictatorship. This action is meant to disable critical unions as we go towards the 2021 elections. PF wants all unions to be silent even if salaries for their members are not paid for months and months. We never experienced this under late president Michael Sata and other leaders who governed this country before. This started happening under the leadership of President Lungu.
The PF party and government has also been tribal in its actions and speech. Look at how it has been appointing people to senior government positions. It is tribal; it’s appointees are mainly drawn from two groupings, my people, the Bemba speaking people, and their cousins from the Eastern region of our country. Other groupings such as Tonga, Lozis, Luvales, Lundas and Kaondes are fired or given junior positions in government.
Further, the PF government and party have for long now been preaching tribalism against the Tonga speaking people, in particular, the leader of UPND, Mr Hakainde Hichilema (HH). President Lungu is the one who started this talk last year and now his ministers and party officials have joined in demonising HH that he will never be president of Zambia because he is Tonga.
Like I have said before, we are all Zambians and all tribes are equal; no tribe is superior to others. PF officials and President Lungu are not God; they cannot decide who becomes our president in 2021. For instance, the former vice-president George Kunda used to tell Mr Sata when he was in opposition that he (Mr Sata) would never be president of Zambia. But Mr Kunda was shocked when in 2011 the people of Zambia ushered Mr Sata and PF into office. The same thing may happen in 2021 because many Zambians are disillusioned with the PF.
As I conclude, I wish to say that the PF government should remember that Zambia is a democracy and it should allow all voices to be heard. No amount of intimidation will make Zambians to keep quiet. I wish also to urge the police to open dockets for all PF officials for practicing tribalism in the open. I wish also to say that the people of Zambia in 2021 will crucify dictatorship and tribalism through the ballot box. God bless our country!
The author is a lecturer at the University of Zambia, Department of Library and Information Science.