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Chifumu Banda’s awakening

Forum for Democracy and Development vice-president Chifumu Banda has censured party members for remaining silent when the country is going through problems.

Opening the Eastern Province party conference at VNT Motel in Chipata, he urged members to “remove the mask, talk and wear back the mask”.

“It is the obligation of every party member to work for the party. Our problem as a party has been that people do not want to talk even though they know that the country is going through a lot of problems. Yes, this is the land of agriculture. People at provincial committee, how many of you have at one time or another highlighted the problems which have beset the agricultural sector? How many of you have for a minute even throughout the term of your office stood up and complained about the distribution of inputs. How many of you have complained about poor rainfall? How many have complained about the marketing of your crops? Now, who do you expect will know the problems which our people face here other than you, the local leadership here?” asked Chifumu. ‘’Therefore, I am challenging you that God has given you wisdom, God has given you the mouth; use it to highlight the plight of the people. It will not do to expect a person residing in Lusaka to be talking about late delivery of fertiliser in Lusangazi, late delivery of fertiliser in Chipangali. It will not do. If all of us want to sit with folded hands, looking to heaven thinking God will speak for us, he will not because God works through us. If we want to succeed, let’s help each other. That is the challenge that I am putting across to the people who will be elected today. Even in districts, each district has unique problems. We hardly hear anybody complaining about the problems so that the government of the day can attend to those problems. Why the silence? At least now you can understand, we are all wearing masks that’s why we are not talking. But we started wearing masks a short while ago so, I am urging you that let’s make a difference. I am urging you to remove the mask for a short time, talk and wear back the mask.”

Finally, Chifumu and the FDD have woken up from slumber. Indeed, it will not do keeping quiet when things are not going well for the country.

But the problem with Chifumu’s observations and advice is that he’s foremost the first culprit! It’s like he has been wearing the mask for ages!

For how long has the FDD remained blind, mute and deaf to socio-economic challenges caused by Edgar Lungu’s regime in the last five years? Could it be that for FDD problems are only visible and felt in places far away from the Capital, Lusaka?

It is said that one can only be quiet but for a while in the midst of poverty and injustice. While we appreciate this genuine challenge from Chifumu to his fellow party members, we are also reminded of his own silence over the years in the face of injustices.

When Edgar’s regime has maimed and killed innocent citizens, Chifumu has been quiet.

But Chifumu is no ordinary person. The man once served as solicitor general and he’s a State Counsel.

But his silence was louder as he could not utter a single word as a senior lawyer when Edgar and his minions were trying to throw that infamous Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 down our throats.

Corruption under Edgar has literally been institutionalised, but Chifumu and the FDD leadership have chosen to keep quiet.

But we understand him, for silence can be golden!

However, as a political figure can one exercise neutrality over gross violations of the Constitution – human rights – and impoverishment of the nation due to reckless borrowing by a regime?

But it is better late than never.

One cannot manage to live comfortably, or continue looking the other side, when citizens are being brutalised by their own government.

There comes a time to choose between two impossible choices!

American civil rights activist Dr Martin Luther King Jr affirmed that: “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

And Nelson Mandela adds that: “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

And 17th Century French philosopher Gaton Bachelard stated that: “What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us.”

For those who have elected the route of neutrality or disinterest under hostile situations, Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel warns that, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

We hope Chifumu’s caution to his colleagues in the FDD will also reflect on him. It will be wonderful if this is also his personal turning point as a public figure. This is a man in whom this country has invested a lot. And this investment requires him to defend this country against all forms of evil, including that perpetuated by a sitting government. This is what true patriotism and statesmanship mean.

Otherwise, we welcome Chifumu’s advise to other FDD members. Silence does not help in a desperate situation such as ours where poverty and injustices are written everywhere. Edgar and his friends are flashing money everywhere – money which they have stolen from the people of Zambia. And they are using the same loot in their attempt to buy votes from victims of their plunder. What nonsense!

We therefore encourage Chifumu to also speak out in the same manner he has encouraged his colleagues. His silence over the years is not strength in itself but outright cowardice.

As they say, fortune favours the brave. And all politicians make enemies, that is the nature of the game!

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