REAL progress must be pursued and attained today and for the future generation, says development analyst Charity Musamba.
Dr Musamba said the country had spent the last years essentially witnessing the destruction of the national democratisation project embarked upon in 1991 baselessly in denial of public administration breakdown, escaping the reality of the persistence of bad politics and helplessly watching the roll-back of its citizens from participating and enjoying the benefits of national development.
She said at the centre of all the undesired situation had been the unleashing and consolidation of a national leadership arrangement along an equation connecting a politico-social-bureaucratic-investor/business groupings network whose actions had significantly derailed the national development and democratisation projects.
Dr Musamba said the core interest of this network had been laid bare – to accumulate riches and not wealth and to pursue personal or group interests and not national or common good.
She said this “four-some” affair has been using public instruments, power and authority to legitimise most of its illegal undertakings.
She said there was an uncontrolled scramble for public resources by a defined group of leaders for the purpose to become rich.
Dr Musamba said rich had a connotation of “senseless” raking of “money” without a clear thought of “why” and “for what.”
“So it is not surprising to see leaders who go to bed as peasants or middle class wake up as billionaires. What needs to be understood is that these people simply unearth sources of ‘hard cash’. Where and how they get to this source is mainly explained by the position that they occupation on the equation of the network outlined before,” she said. “This is not to say that ordinary Zambians are against rich people or people shifting from being ‘poor’ to ‘rich’.”
Dr Musamba said the reality was that there would always be different socio-economic and financial classes in all society.
“What the ordinary Zambians are wondering and even confused about is this: 1. miraculous acquisition of ‘riches,’ and 2. Refusal to account for where these riches are coming from’. In fact, it would be very developmentally useful for these abrupt rich people to share their secret widely because millions and millions of Zambians, especially young people and women are looking for workable strategies of coming out of poverty,” she said.
Dr Musamba said senseless accumulation of riches was not sustainable but wealth creation was and usually connects neatly with common and national interests.
“Splashing large amounts of money, assets in a country that failed to pay creditors K42.5 million with dire consequences cannot pay salaries on time, failed to pay retirees – what sense do our leaders expect us to make out of what we are seeing?” she asked.
Dr Musamba said most leaders involved in the network equation had one main commonality – refusal to account.
“A check through genuine democratic systems show that such countries have prioritised leadership accountability to the people. That is how the former president of France, [Nicolas] Sarkozy, was thrown to jail for corrupt behaviour! In the case of Zambia, leaders are very keen to be recognised as leaders but vehemently refuse to meet the other side of the leadership coin – accountability for one’s actions and decisions!” she noted. “So it does make sense when Zambia appears to be at peace with a governance system that keep splashing and burdening its already weakened citizens with horrible news of unaccountable accumulation of riches, selective application of laws in favour for the ‘connected,’ provision of fake or inadequate public goods as well as encouraging destructive socially-based militant activities. This distortion could be interpreted as a deliberate strategy to sustain a system of unaccountable leadership. But in all this, it is the majority and very poor ordinary Zambians who are carrying the burden of all this misconduct.”
Dr Musamba said most leaders were now masters in ‘escaping’ from the reality of the failure and poor performance as a country.
“They are quick to accept the huge privileges and conditions that come with their positions in society but turn their heads away when time comes to account for ‘performance.’ Instead, it is easier for them to unleash militant forces on those who ask questions or demand answers, twist public regulations and policies to safeguard themselves from scrutiny. The main pitfall of such misconduct is a serious derailment of the country’s development process,” she said. “Here, it is important to agree that national management is about failures, weakness on one hand and success and strength on the other. Mistakes are also part and parcel of this process. What is important to acknowledge when either occurs and to learn how to avoid failures and mistakes and to consolidate success and strengths. More worrisome, the biggest danger about this denial is that it works very hard at accelerating the speed of separating the governed from the governors. As is the case, leaders are ‘leaving everyone except themselves behind!’ But is leadership not about guiding the followers towards a shared and common destination?”
Dr Musamba said whether leaders decide to accumulate riches at the expense of their people, refuse to account as a means of securing “these unsustainable riches or force a false narrative of progress on citizens wallowing and burdened in economic and political difficulties” – the fact remains that real progress must be pursued and attained today and for the future generation.
“No shortcuts,” said Dr Musamba.