Every Zambian needs to know that the political economy is one fundamental factor behind the current status of our country. By and large, the political architecture that characterised our great nation before and after gaining independence in 1964 continues to define the happenings in our society today. Thus, if we see mistakes in the sectors of energy, tourism, transport, timber, governance, agriculture, spiritualism, education, water and indeed mining—we should know that the political economy is responsible.
Equally, if we are not happy (or strangely happy) with the unprecedented current sky-rocketing scandals at the Ministry of Health, the political economy owes it to the Zambians to provide answers. For the farmers who are failing to access essential inputs (seed, fertiliser, equipment, chemicals, etc) at cheaper and affordable prices, please know that the political economic arrangements for our country has directly betrayed you. When people in the community are dying from curable diseases and conditions such as malaria, maternal related, headache, anaemia, etc, place it on the rotten political economy of our country. When you struggle to educate your children and they stay home without jobs many years after graduation, take serious hate and hurt for the political economy of Zambia.
Most crucially for every Zambian to know is that politicians are the ones who are constitutionally responsible to oversee the functionality of the political economy. Our Zambian Constitution mandates politicians to be the leaders or indeed appointing authorities of those who head all the three arms of government—Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The Republican President and his team own the responsibility of directing what prevails in all aspects of governance. The buck stops at the politician when it comes to the development process of our country. Therefore, if Zambia develops and citizens enjoy improved standards of living, the politicians will at the most get the kudus for leading well. Similarly, if people’s lives are thrown into the dungeon of poverty and despair, the politician should not deceive the country by looking at Satan—Zambians should know that the Satan is the politician herself or himself! That devil or Satans must be ejected from overseeing the nation of Zambia—using any means possible (prayer or otherwise).
It is my considered view that while we may justifiably differ on many perspectives about our life choices including faith affiliations, career paths, spouses, employers, which crops to plant and to some extent which shop to shop from—the country needs to be united and strive for a results-oriented political economy at all generational times. On 12th August 2021, Zambia decides on which political grouping or groupings to take the country forward. Time is now when every Zambian (registered to vote or not) is required to assess every aspiring candidate and certify their worth to lead Zambia credibly with a clearly defined visionary Vision. It will help this country a great deal if every citizen begins to delve into asking results-based development questions. For instance, one would not expect a very dirty latest Auditor General’s Report, full of day-light robberies involving millions and billions of dollars and Kwachas in the elections year. A political grouping like the Patriotic Front (PF) which ascended to power in 2011 on a pro-poor campaign promise, it is pretty evil of the regime to boast of attaining developments such as road infrastructure when on the flip side of the coin we find huge anomalies in the manner these efforts have been done. Almost all the contractual jobs undertaken have been marred with cheating and thefts even when these were implemented using expensively acquired loans. Throughout the PF regime (without rest at all), scandals characterised their system of governance. For every audit report you get on public projects and expenditure, the PF regime has gotten closer to 0 out of 10. Why? Every loan they publicly (and suspiciously even the privately) procured have been cruelly contested by stakeholders for misappropriation and mischievousness.
Our political economy, which is currently in the total hands of the PF, led by President Edgar Lungu need not be treated with kid gloves by every Zambian in 2021. I implore and encourage even those of us who may sympathise with the PF to for once step aside and assess the performance of this political project/party since 2011. It will be further useful to go beyond and compare the campaign messages of the PF prior to the 2011, 2015 and 2016 elections and review how our political economy has contributed to reviving the Zambian economy in real terms. Have the enthusiasm and resilience we saw in Mr. Sata (MHSRIP) and President Lungu while soliciting for votes yielded better results for Zambia? Why should PF be given another chance to lead? Just why? Name their achievements one-by-one against their contested performance and pain inflicted on the citizenry!
To encourage every Zambian further, I think we should not get too comfortable with low-grade political leadership regimes. I know that the temptation to settle for low calibre of political leaders remains very high due to many years of having been led by men and women who are both lovers and bridegrooms of money, silver and gold—but we can detach ourselves from that habit and mediocrity and aspire for better and upright leaders. Such inspiring leaders are in fact not in short supply in our country. The problem is that as citizens, we do not take good time to assess and separate pure seed from chuff within the political economy of our country. We cherish to look at leaders’ faces, tribe, faith and complexion when we should have been focusing on skill, experience, character, hobbies and the locus standing of our leaders who aspire for public office. At times, I even get annoyed and ask: Is Zambia’s problem the citizens who lack the acumen and discernment to decipher good leaders from a bunch of available ones? Or is it the problem of leaders who offer themselves for public office? Or indeed, both? I consider ourselves as a ‘population that hates and hurts itself’. I also believe that we can change our minds and do good to ourselves. The choice is ours to grandly transform ourselves from the 12th August election.
We need to force ourselves on the politicians by demanding for quality and quantity that befits us.
I have a personal problem with the PF regime. I want them to address the Zambians on how they commandeered the political economy since 2011 when they were lucky to be given chances to rule. Why is the country hurting economically, socially, culturally, politically, spiritually, ethnically, tribally and so on? Why did the PF regime deceive the people that life was to be well for Zambians under their guard? Where is our Mukula tree? How much are our national parks and minerals contributing to GDP? Our Kwacha is bad- why? Corruption scandals among high ranking government officials are increasing by the day- why? None of the sectors prioritised in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP 2017-2021) are scoring significant success- why? Zambia has hit a stone socioeconomically! I think the PF boat needs miraculous repair or receive disregard from the citizens. But they have a small window to redeem themselves, given the nearness of elections. The opposition political parties must also never be spared in this demand for results-based results by citizens. Aluta continua for a Zambia whose citizens will increase pressure on the political leaders for transformative development results.
Dr Vincent Kanyamuna holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Monitoring and Evaluation and is lecturer and researcher at the University of Zambia, Department of Development Studies. For comments and views, email: firstname.lastname@example.org