‘Power is not an entitlement’

Felix Mutati says power is not an entitlement.

He says the owners of political power are you, the people.

“He must not have all these powers; the powers must be shared. If the President is ineffective, we have to find a mechanism to say ‘can you go.’ If it requires registration [or] whatever it takes, the President must also be held accountable. It is not a guaranteed term – you can go anytime,” said Mutati. “If the people say ‘twanaka (we are tired)… Even when you are going on a long journey and the driver is dozing, we tell him to step aside and put in another driver. That is the way life is led, Isn’t it? We believe in the rule of law, and not where you have a cadre who is stronger than a policeman. Where you have confusion in the market place… Power is not an entitlement! The owners of [political] power is you the people. You should be able to decide that enough is enough. This is what must be done.”

We agree.

Elected leaders are servants of the people and not masters.

But what we see today is a contradiction to the principle of leadership by those elected to public office.

Our politicians have instead usurped the authority – they have become autonomous powers in their own right. They’re no longer subject to the traditional forms of control. They can even breach the Constitution without care!

They have become a power unto themselves. They have become our kings and queens. They only pretend to be our people’s servants during elections.

It is said: “A country’s political culture – the characteristic shared values of the citizens upon which government is based and upon which certain political activities are considered acceptable or not – varies from country to country. In all political systems, be they democratic or authoritarian, the ideological underpinnings of society influence the pattern of interest group involvement in the political process – including, potentially, their exclusion from the process entirely. The location of political power in the political system determines the access points and methods of influence used by interest groups. In authoritarian regimes, power usually lies with the dictator or a small cadre of officials. Thus, any interest group activity in such systems will be narrowly directed at these officials. In democracies, power is more diffused.”

It is very important for our rulers, the elected ones, to understand that the basis of power in our country is and must be the people irrespective of religion, colour or political leanings.

As Dr Kenneth Kaunda aptly put it in 1965, “A king is not elected, a president is elected and I want to tell you what your rights are. If I go wrong you have every right to deselect me, at the next election. I want this principle to be established. You must know what your rights are. I am your servant; not to be served by you; I am the one who serves, the same as all my ministers, we all serve you.”

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