From the archives Monitor Newspaper October 10, 2003
This week I am starting the case for saving Christopher. I have no apologies if readers find the language sometimes hard. But, like Stephen Lewis (UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa) noted in January this year after his tour of Southern Africa, “..., the time for polite, even agitated entreaties is over.” Our present times are no longer the age of timeworn politeness or civility, simply because we are living in times of impunity and hypocrisy.
The citizenry and indeed all that dwells on this planet must realise that democracy, the very much touted commodity of governance in the 21st century is slowly becoming the yoke of our enslavement, debasement and impoverishment. This is done with impunity, mostly, because we still have inane and absurd beliefs of respect, when politicians (in government and the opposition) do not show any iota of respect for the citizenry.
The power that as a people we have over politicians does not seem to be realised. It is absurd of people to kow-tow before and after politicians. A politician does not feed you, nor do you owe him or her your servitude. It is the politician that actually owes you his or her servitude.
Lest you forgot, a politician is just as ordinary as yourself, only difference is, this is an individual that seeks to represent you (and the ideals you subscribe to) in your everyday interaction with the State. And not a single individual, other than a dictator, can represent you without your sanction. Consequently, it is irresponsible to sanction someone to represent you, and then allow them to behave with impunity and in a manner that kills Christopher.
That in this century, our relationship to our representation is that of servitude, is because as a people we accept and sustain impunity and hypocrisy.
Okay, so there are no WMDs in Iraq. Of course, there were no WMDs, except the ones in Collin Powell’s PowerPoint presentation at the UN. George and Tony being allowed impunity could not differentiate a PowerPoint presentation from reality, so they went looking for things that only existed in a presentation. Any way, forget global impunity, hypocrisy and idiocy, it rarely saves Christopher, and that is fact.
How about on the home front? Children are being defiled at an alarming rate, so every Tom, Dick and Harry says, and the media is having a field day. Last week, there was even a protest march. Members of civil society, politicians and yes, children went to air their grievances to Mr or Mrs. Freedom Statue along Independence Avenue in Lusaka. They went to tell him/her, that the law on defilement should be stiffened, defilers should be castrated, and so many other blah blahs.
Without seeming to minimise the problem of child abuse and in particular defilement, from beyond politics, the fact is the Freedom Statue is not the entity to which such grievances or protests should be addressed. As more grey hairs pop up on my head, understanding humans, is becoming an exercise in futility. It is clear the act of doing anything right in this country is shockingly far-fetched. Could be that is why, even our governance is in a serious mess. Or it could be, ‘being seen’ or the ‘wannabe’ syndrome is inadvertently now a state of our existence.
I was asked if I would march, and I said yes. But when I was told we would be protesting at Freedom Statue, the meaningless of the protest was evident and not worth participating in.
The protest march should have been to State House, cabinet or parliament, and not a damn statue. Could be we respect politicians so much that we seek not to disturb their peace in their places of work, so we humbly march to a statue. What impunity!
Impunity is a crime. The perpetuation of impunity by parties affected by impunity is also a crime. It is absurd that this country’s citizenry continually behave in a manner that not only perpetuates impunity, but also sustains and nourishes it.
Our everyday existence as Zambians is riddled with impunity. Walk into any service providers’ place (public or private), in over 99 per cent of the cases, the service provider at the other end of the table or counter will look at you like you are lost, or you are simply wasting their time. Tragically, the majority of Zambians seeking the service that took them there will simply timidly take the nonsense.
How often have you walked into your Bank, and you have been subjected to a wait of over half an hour, just because despite the Bank wasting money on constructing 10 counters or so, most of the time only 50% of the counters provide service.
In our understanding of the effect of impunity and hypocrisy, the answer that always fails us is how we contain impunity and hypocrisy in our poorest of the poor country.
From beyond politics, the answer is simple.
All donors and supposed international development agencies should vacate the nation space defined as the state of Zambia. Donors and supposed international development agencies have been round this country since the time I used to believe James Brown was cool, yet zilch has been done to change Christopher’s plight.
All civil society leaders that claim to fight for what is just, should shut up. Just is not about politicians and the State. Just is about Christopher.
All politicians that exhibit monkey-like tendencies of swinging from branch to branch under the misguided assumption that it is only by being in the ruling party that one can contribute to the development of this poorest of the poor countries should be weeded.
All presidents that parade such individuals as saviours should be impeached.
Lest I forget, in addition, all politicians holding government office should relinquish their office and vamoose. All civil servants who owe allegiance to the president should be arrested. They are a travesty of the expectations of a civil servant.
Take away the franchise from all citizens that continue voting for individuals that exhibit monkey-like behaviours, such citizens are demented and not worthy the right to the franchise. These individuals simply epitomise the likely dangers of democracy of rule by the majority through mediocrity. The franchise should be the preserve of reasoning individuals.
So Mr. Liato, Tetamashimba retained their seats, and the MMD is asserting its political hegemony. Who cares, after all a one party state is what appeals to the citizenry? Mr. Imenda was allowed to contest his seat despite the courts affirming that his last election was fraudulent. Can not fault him, after all the continued adherence to illegitimate laws allowed him. So again, who cares?