(The Monitor Newspaper June 20, 2003)
The political pornography, vanity and absurdity of this country is bedevilling. It is, hence, not surprising that as a country we are every day sinking into a bottomless chasm of decay. Political leaders strut around like in a strip show, and we elate and applaud.
There is no better apologue, which can capture our bedevilled reality than the 'Emperor's new clothes.'
You see, once upon a time there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes. Word of the Emperor's refined habits spread. Two scoundrels who had heard of the Emperor's vanity decided to take advantage of it.
"We are very good tailors and after years of research we have invented an extraordinary method to weave a cloth so light and fine that it looks invisible. The cloth is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."
The Emperor listened, and vanity wining, the scoundrels were contracted. The two scoundrels then pretended to weave the suit. The Emperor thought he had spent his money quite well: in addition to getting a new extraordinary suit, he would discover which of his subjects were ignorant and incompetent.
Days later, he asked his prime minister, to go and see how the work was proceeding.
"Here, Excellency! Admire the colours, feel the softness," the scoundrels said. The prime minister tried to see the fabric that was not there. He did not see anything, but if indeed he did not see anything it meant he was stupid, and this he could not accept, as he would be discharged from his office. "What a marvellous fabric," he said.
Well, at some point, the Emperor had to show his subjects his extraordinary suit. A ceremonial parade was formed in the town square. Everyone said, loud enough for the others to hear: "Look at the Emperor's new clothes. They're beautiful!" They all could not see the clothes, but none was willing to admit his or her own stupidity. However, a child who had nothing to lose went up to the carriage. "The Emperor is naked," he said.
Indeed, the Emperor was naked, and in this godly country the nakedness is pornographic! The many proliferate so-called leaders are simply au naturel emperors that have no idea of the core needs of this country. They both weave and wear a suit that will surely get this country out of the self-inflicted socio-economic chasm.
Beyond politics, it must be understood that the emperors' suit is costly. Christopher is dying; the youth are lost in an abyss of destitution. Yet there are many of us, the media not excepted, that stand up and hail the emperors. The fact is the emperors' suit is just misunderstood conceptions like control of corruption. And indeed, uncovering ludicrous conspiracies about who is power hungry and who is not. There is no suit!
Just the other day, a god-fearing Veep, sprang into a ZAF helicopter and went to Mumbwa to "drum up" support for his party - the MMD. This is a Veep that wears the suit that can control corruption. It berates me as to what corruption these fellows keep talking about. I need the Veep to tell me what an act of abusing public resources for partisan interests, is called.
Corruption is a state of rot! Electoral corruption as manifested by abuse of public resources is corruption. And, of course Mr. Veep, the MMD will win the by-elections simply because as a people, the emperors' new clothes are irresistible.
Surely, what else can give the Veep the right to use public resources for party politics, other than the simple fact that none of us want to be that child who said - the Emperor is naked? Well, could be the MMD pumped in gas into the helicopter.
Zambia shall not be saved if people cannot construe an act of abuse of public resources for partisan interests, as an act of corruption.
In any case, given that within less than a month of ascent to the office of Veep, the Veep is already behaving in a manner detrimental to Christopher, for the sake of Christopher, his assertion that he is a reject could be - is a truism.
Behold! In the scramble to praise the emperors, even chiefs do not want to be left out. A chief in Mumbwa warned his subjects against supporting the opposition in the forthcoming by-elections. I wonder if this chief realises that the money being spent on the by-election inflicted on the poor through desires for political hegemony, could alleviate some of the problems in his chiefdom. Any way, the point is, he is not the child that said the emperor is naked. If it were that he was, he would have said: "as a chieftaincy we are not going to allow costs incurred through individuals pornographic and absurd behaviours. We will simply boycott the nonsense, as sir you are politically au naturel!"
Well, the bottom line is that this one saga makes one realise that no wonder lately chiefs are hauled before the courts for criminal and other offences. They are just mere mortals who seek not to look crackbrained in the face of political pornography, vanity and absurdity.
Any way, never mind the chief - he was merely exercising his freedom of mis-expression! Tetamashimba, Liato, Mazoka, Shikapwasha and Mwanawasa better characterise our reality. But, I will tell the story beyond the politics of this saga next time.
For now, I seek to argue that the emperors of Zambia do not deserve a shred of applaud or newsworthiness. We should as a people seek greater heights of development, and look beyond the politics and categorically state when the emperors are naked.
It is irresponsible of a citizenry to trumpet accolades for a leadership that has not created jobs, that is not changing the state of our health care. A leadership that sees corruption, only when it suits them. A leadership that still continues to murder Christopher.
Christopher needs health care, education, and social security, and not the political pornographic aspirations and connivance for absolute power.
In the apologue of the emperor's new clothes, the child was reprimanded by his father. "Don't talk nonsense," the father said. But the boy's remark, had been heard by the bystanders, and it was repeated over and over again until everyone cried:
"The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!"
Understood beyond politics, as a nation we need to assert ourselves. We cannot continue being irresponsible and allow ourselves to wallow in regressing poverty whilst the emperors core business is vain illusions of political grandeur. We have nothing to lose, for poverty is a state of need. And one cannot lose that which one needs.
These emperors are naked! They are au naturel!