Good afternoon Mr. President and the entire PF membership,
I have a mission to contribute positively to the wellbeing of all Zambians through providing solutions to many challenges facing the nation. I want to mobilise citizens and raise awareness on various policy issues and projects across the country. I believe in Zambia and I know we have enough resources and skilled manpower to be the best economy in Africa and beyond. There is a thin line between politics and development. When you get politics wrong, development gets affected. Following the loss of Roan to a party that is only a few months old, let me address you on the political economy of Zambia.
All is not lost and the problem is not that NDC has won Roan constituency but the biggest problem is that we are failing to see what the problem is. The problem is that whoever has a solution to this problem is seen as a problem. I was born and raised in Roan constituency. My extended family still lives in Luanshya. I visit the Copperbelt every month. I interact with grassroots as well senior government officials and policy makers. For so many years, things have been getting worse in the mining sector with so many people either losing jobs or complaining about poor working conditions. Why do we expect them to be happy? We have civil servants who are highly taxed, delayed pay and have to deal with high electricity, water, transport and food bills. Why would we expect them to be happy with us when no one is even bothering talking to them to explain what is going on? We have farmers in Copperbelt rural who despite buying inputs at very high prices sell their produce at very low prices. Why do we expect them to be happy? We don’t communicate what we are doing for them, we don’t talk to them. We have youths, who convinced their families to vote for PF hoping they would get jobs. All they see are job losses in the mining sector. Leaders don’t explain what is happening. Why exactly do we expect youths be happy? We have students and lecturers who are highly respected by society. These come from homes with families and friends. What we do to them affects their families and the way the entire society perceives us. Instead of talking to them nicely, we don’t miss an opportunity to blast them, more like desperately trying to annoy them further. These students come from homes where their parents have lost jobs as miners. These students come from homes where their brothers who graduated way back have no jobs. These students come from homes where their parents who are farmers struggle to buy inputs and sell their produce. These students come from homes where their parents who are civil servants struggle with taxes and salaries are delayed. We have bus and tax drivers who are unhappy with cadres collecting money from them. We have vendors chased from the streets without alternative trading places. In short, we have successfully turned everyone into enemies. This is not just in Roan constituency. It extends to the entire Copperbelt and beyond. Why would we think the people of Chingola, Chililabombwe, Ndola, Kitwe, Kalulushi, Mufulira, Lufwanyama, Masaiti and Mpongwe are happy? The problem here is not even the threat posed by Kambwili, it is the growing gap between the people and the party and its government and we have people within working tirelessly to project a false impression of what the people on the ground really feel.
At party level, no one seems interested in stopping infighting. Quarrels, gossip and plotting against each other is the order of the day. We reward deception and gossip and mistake it to loyalty. Those who offer genuine advise are seen as enemies and sidelined. They are either labeled DC, NDC or UPND. People tasked with leadership positions are all bent on pleasing their superiors, overwhelming them with false support, information and neglecting those they represent. This culture has been cemented such that even those who see wrong things are afraid of speaking out for fear of being labeled opposition. There are four critical functions of any party: 1) Image building and strategy, 2) Media and publicity 3) Mobilisation and community engagement and 4) Fundraising. There is money to fund 200 people camping for weeks in Sesheke and Roan but there is no money to fund media, strategy and mobilisation committees. We have image builders struggling to have three meals a day, borrowing K5 to go and appear on TV to discuss how government has empowered the citizens. Their lips are dry, their shoes are finished…..there is hunger and poverty written all over their faces and we expect viewers to be convinced? If someone so close to the power that be is that hungry, what is in it for 5 million youths out there? Those that are given responsibilities to carry out critical tasks for the party are not spared from hardships. They basically don’t have personal money to mobilise and their activities are not funded. We have neglected them and yet there is only two years into the next general election which comes at a very difficult time for the economy. They are disempowered. There is no mobilisation going on. No matter how committed they are, they cannot travel to all parts of their country to do their work. The structures are there but they are not empowered. We have money to carry musicians to go and sing but no money to send media and mobilisation committees to do the work well in advance. We don’t even empower the structures on the ground. Not even MMD and UNIP made such grave mistakes. To make matters worse, Ministers and senior government officials are very insensitive to what they say. Permanent Secretaries will just go quiet and never bother explaining what government is doing in various sectors. No one is explaining why mealie meal prices are going up at a time we are exporting mealie meal. No one is explaining why we are allowing this despite the poor harvest recorded. No one is explaining delayed salaries. What is happening to councils and ZAMPOST? How far are we with the mining tax? Why are we struggling to disburse grants and pay Contractors? What is the status of the economy? Are the projections of a reduction in the growth of the economy to 2.9%, Kwacha losing and inflation going up true? What are we doing to halt this? Will the economy get any better as we approach 2021? Won’t adopting an appeasement policy even make things worse? We need ministers and senior government officials to address the masses in a convincing manner. Give people hope. This silence is only causing anxiety and giving room to speculation and propaganda. Why isn’t government talking about the 101 new manufacturing firms and the good prospects in the manufacturing, tourism and energy sectors? Why are some government officials only quick to announce bad news or contradict those offering hope? Given this environment, it is very difficult for the SG and all structures to perform and do not blame them for any loss. It is extremely difficult for the party to mobilise and campaign.
Down-playing the loss in Roan is not the solution. There is need to own up and change. There will never be chance to change once 2021 is lost. Let us manage our leaders better. Let us not project very happy and unconcerned leaders at a time people are crying over delayed salaries and high taxes. We need to project leaders that are concerned and working towards resolving problems. Psychology plays a critical role in politics. At a time lecturers and students are complaining, we want to see pictures of the President and ministers meeting student union leaders and lecturers. At a time taxes are high, we want to see pictures of the President meeting ZRA to see how to expand the tax base and offer relief. At a time some parts of the country are experiencing poor harvest, we want to see pictures of the President visiting fields, talking to ZNFU and FRA. Image building requires accurate reading of what is troubling people. Unlike a situation where there are all these issues troubling citizens and all they see are pictures of the President smiling at the gym. Not that fitness is bad but have we ever bothered finding out how this is perceived by the people?
What harm is there in talking to lecturers and students in a persuasive manner? Why do we allow our leaders to start talking about how underdeveloped constituencies that we have held for over ten years are? Do we feel the people will believe that and blame MPs for responsibilities that are clearly for central government? In over one year of knowing that there will be an election in Roan, couldn’t something be done other than going there two weeks before voting to make desperate promises? Admit there is need to change a lot of things and start working on them right away. Down-playing this loss is worrisome as it shows we do not acknowledge what the problem really is. The biggest winner from this is UPND. By default, whether the alliance breaks or not, there will always be an alliance as all major threats like NDC and DC are subtracting from PF strongholds.
What is sad is that amidst all these economic challenges, unpopular decisions and silence, we have smart young men and women who can explain the economy, the delays in salaries, the taxes, agriculture, education, health etc…in a more convincing manner. We have better explanations to these and always offered to help communicate to Zambains. There is basically no challenge we are facing that has no ready solution. Everything is there, well packaged in papers with very practical solutions but you would rather keep such at a distance and entertain those saying all is well. In the end we start suspecting everyone of being opposition. By the time we realise and accept there is a problem it will be too late. Zambians are not happy with us and the levels of discontent are very high such that in some areas you have to be careful with what you say otherwise you will get a good beating.
In conclusion, there are a lot of good things we can build on in all sectors but we need to change a lot of things and it has to start right away. Do not release that pain of camping hundreds of people and ferrying people from all parts of Copperbelt only to lose to a party that only had one old bus and most likely spent less than K20,000 the entire campaign. That pain should send all of us into self introspection. That pain should be the turning point. It cannot be business as usual. No one does the same things over and over expecting different results.
I thought of sharing what someone posted!