By Mubanga M. Musanse
While the main issue of the 2016 election should be the economy,the electorate ought to hold the PF accountable about their good governance record. The PF has been intolerant of alternative voices. They have shown that they are slowly taking Zambia on the same path as their role model, ZANU PF in Zimbabwe did through their exhibition of dictatorial tendencies and the use of violence to silence their political opponents.
The President of country can easily stop violence perpetuated by his Party by using his big stick and President Lungu cannot pass the buck. President Mwanawasa did it. You just need to make an example of a few and it will stop! As long as PF show lawlessness and engage in violence, all right thinking people know that the President is condoning it and agrees with his cadres.
The governance record of Zambia’s PF in the past five years is eerily similar to Zimbabwe’s ZANU PF albeit at a low level as Zambia’s PF is still a baby having been in power for just five years.The PF in Zambia like the Zimbabwean PF has been using violence as a political tool, harassing journalists and the private press, abusing the public media, ignoring the rule of law, abusing the police force, engaging in massive political and economic corruption, arresting, detaining and charging opposition figures on flimsy and frivolous charges and letting its supporters go scot free for more serious crimes etc.
There is no shadow of doubt that since the Patriotic Front came into power, Zambia’s good governance credentials has deteriorated to such an extent that the rule of law has gone out of the window, freedom of expression and assembly has beenstifled through the abuse of the public order act. The country is slowly becoming a “Police and Cadre state”, where Police and cadres are above the law. The PF Minister of energy and Water Development, Dora Siliya, aptly captured this state of affairs in April, 2015.
“Never before, at least in my adult life, have I seen citizens liberties infringed upon as in the last three years. The panga carrying xenophobic attackers in South Africa shock us, but I believe they also remind us of the path our country almost took, with panga carrying cadres on the streets of Lusaka and in various bye elections,” She said.
It is not a hidden fact that PF does not want democracy in Zambia. They simply tolerate it and if they had it their way, they would rather re-introduce a one party State and this was confirmed by their Party Secretary General, Davies Chama in an interview with the Post Newspaper in May, 2015.
“If we could, I wouldn’t even mind having a one Party State……I would be comfortable with that kind of scenario. So this democracy thing is just a term.Whether it can change the lives of Zambian people by the phrase ‘democracy’ is a bit debatable,” he said.
There is overwhelming evidence that Zambia risks the loss of the hard won democracy of 1991.The country risks being ruled by a dictatorship if the PF where to continue ruling this country based on their record so far.I will outline the reasons why I think the PF under President Lungu poses a risk to our hard won democracy. The risk is real, high and not imaginary.
One, President Lungu appears to be comfortable among dictators. They say you can tell a person by the type of friends he has. President Lungu is so close to the despot in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. He is also close friends to Dictators like Dos Santos,YoweriMuseveni and Paul Kagame. You never hear him associate with progressive and anti corruption African crusaders like Buhari and Magufuli.President Lungu projects an image of humility but which is rather deceptive as his intolerance of intra party democracy and failure to compromise with those who challenged him like Guy Scott, Mile Sampa and others shows a signs of a budding dictator. The use of threats like falling on his opponents like a tonne of bricks, the threat of using the military and his boasting of carrying a big stick are not signs of a democrat.
Two, the President’s recent decision to instruct ministers to stay in office even after parliament has been dissolved, a first in Zambia’s 51 years history is against democratic tenets. The fact that he ignored the advice of the Attorney General and the Law Association of Zambia are signs of dictatorial tendencies.This never even happened under Kaunda’s UNIP one Party dictatorship!
Three, the PF under President Lungu allowed cadres to invade the Livingstone airport apron in a bid to beat up Post Newspaper owner, Fred Mmembe. They also invaded the Ndola Airport on February 3, 2016 and prevented a commercial aircraft carrying Miles Sampa from Landing after he quit PF to prevent him from addressing his supporters! The American Ambassador was so shocked that he said, “I have been an American diplomat for 30 years and I don’t ever remember a situation where an international airport was taken over by a bunch of hooligans and thugs for several hours without massive response from security officers like it happened in Ndola. This really is a breakdown of law and order in Zambia as seen by international community.”President Lungu and PF never condemned the Ndola airport incident and so it gives the impression it had their blessing.
Four, the PF under President Lungu has attempted to close the Post Newspaper by using tax legislation through ZRA and withdrawing adverts from the paper by government and Parastatal organisations because the paper has been critical of the party. The PF do not subscribe to freedom of the press.
Fifth, the PF cadres have been harassing independent media journalist by beating them, breaking their equipment, denying them access to cover state functions and even attempting to kill them just for doing their job like it happenedto thePost journalists in Vubwi eastern province.Nothing happens to the culprits for this criminality.
Sixth, the PF has stormed several radio stations and stopped live broadcasts featuring opposition leaders such as HH, Sampa and others. The government is also alleged to have forced Muvi TV to shut down its free to air channel by stopping them broadcasting to the entire country.
Seventh, the Public order Act has been abused through the police service and selectively implemented. The opposition have been denied several permits whereas the PF have been allowed. The Police have privately said they get instructions from the top. This was confirmed by Northern Province Police Commissioner, Bonny Kapeso in the Post Newspaper of February 12, 2006 where he said only PF is allowed to hold campaign meetings without notifying the police because they are part of the system. He warned Sampa’s party that he will not tolerate opposition meetings in Northern Province.
Eight, the recent expose by the Post Newspaper of the PF registering foreigners- Congolese, Malawians, Mozambicans – to vote for the PF is clear evidence that they do not believe in democracy. It appears the PF would want to retain power through hook orcrook by rigging the election.This is how dictatorial regimes operate.
Ninth, the inexplicable withdrawal of two cases where a State House aide Kaizer Zulu was implicated does raise eye brawls. The first was in connection of an alleged corruption scandal involving a Chinese national which just disappeared in thin air. The other is where the same person was accused of having threatened former vice President, Enock Kavindele’s son with a gun but it was also inexplicable withdrawn.
PF Secretary General Davies Chama shoots a person in Mulobezi under alleged provocation and victim is hospitalized,nothing happens to him. GBM is alleged to slap somebody and is arrested, charged and taken to court!
These cases raise cases of the abuse of the criminal justice system by the ruling Party. It appears some people areabove the law. The animal farm adage , “ All animals are equal but others are more equal than others”, seems to apply in Zambia under PF.
Tenth, the PF has denied Opposition parties access to public media like ZNBC, Daily mail, Times of Zambia which they have used for propaganda purposes for their party.The news coverage at ZNBC is 99% about ruling Party and all dictatorships act the same. The Minister of information and BroadcastingChishimbaKambwiliis on record boasting that ZNBC belongs to the ruling Party! He told the Union, “ ZNBC belongs to the State and we are the State. We own ZNBC….. we can fire, hire without following any procedure.”
“Dr” Chishimba Kambwili’s interference withthe public media reminds one of Nazi German’s Paul Joseph Goebbels who was the propaganda chief for Hitler from 1933 to 1945. The only difference, is that Dr. Goebbels studied and obtained his Doctor of philosophy from the University of Heidelberg by writing examsbut “Dr” Kambwili got it on silver as an honorary degree!Kabwili also reminds one of Mugabe’s one time propaganda chief at the height of the repression and farm invasions in Zimbabwe, Professor Jonathan Moyo.
This article is meant to appeal to the independent and undecided voters- who will be the deciders of the 2016 elections- to think carefully about extending the PF’s mandate to govern by taking into account the PF’s governance record as well as their economic record, both of which have been a disaster.
The PF’s democratic credentials are very poor and they may even be worse than UNIP if they stay in power longer. PF under Edgar Lungu is likely to take Zambia, the Zimbabwean and Ugandan route. Dictators start slowly and the longer they stay on, the worse they become as they try to cover up their crimes. The signs from PF to become more dictatorial are there for any discerning eye to see, if one has lived under adictatorship like the writer. Unfortunately, the Youth who are the majority of voters do not know what it means to live under a dictatorship like we did under UNIP.Do not say you were not warned.
On a lighter note, Zambia has been ruled by ‘foreigners’ and they have performed very badly. Kenneth Kaunda was from Malawi and he messed up. Frederick Chiluba was from Congo and he messed up. Michael Sata was from Tanzania and he messed up. Rupiah Banda was from Malawi and he messed up through corruption. Edgar Lungu is alleged to have Malawianancestry through his mother who is rumoured to be a first cousin to the late President Sata’s first wife who was Malawian. Lungu has alsomessed up the economy and presided over bad governance.
Zambia prospered under Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, the only indigenous Zambian to ever become President! May be it is time to try another President without foreign connections so as to turn around economy, stop the corruption and bring bank rule of law and respectability to being a Zambian.