Thursday, 27 December 2007


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Whatever happened to that age-old gem of wisdom that we always spat out when we realised someone was about to take advantage of us as youngsters in playgrounds in Kitwe: takuli kuliilana amasuku pamutwe guys in Bemba.
In the Zambian society today, ukuliilana amasuku unfortunately has become part of the national culture, and if anybody at any level for that matter, manages to eat fruit from someone else’s head, he assumes heroic status and the victim is deemed ukupwalala or sleepy.
A good example is the way former President Chiluba who is appearing in court for various offences allegedly committed while in office, is today seen as a victim rather than what he should be treated, as in The people Vs Chiluba.
Politicians in government, politicians outside government, senior civil servants, junior civil servants, private and parastatal company chief executives, junior employees, NGO leaders and just about everybody, including tuntemba owners, are fleecing and want to fleece everyone else.In short, crime in general and corruption in particular, is endemic in the nation. The dominant criminal element in society has impoverished everyone else to a point where being “clean” is considered abnormal.
When I was a student just over two decades ago, we used to band about statistics in Kalingalinga and M’tendere taverns that 95 percent of the nation’s wealth was in the hands of five percent of the population which was then associated with UNIP.
Two decades later and 17 years of the MMD in power, I am sure the statistics have shifted: 99 percent of the wealth is in the hands of only one percent of the population.
Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande himself admitted that it was difficult for the people of Zambia to appreciate that the economy was improving because they are impoverished in any case. How does one explain the fact that ministers, top civil servants and the privileged few are able to build mansions within a short time while everyone else cannot even afford a bag of mealie meal?
I do agree with one reader, MrK, who commented on last week’s column, Katumbi’s FRA Farce, that corruption was to blame for the malaise in the nation.”The problem is not just that Zambia does not have the systems in place. The problem is the political will to actually root out corruption, even at the ministerial level. ”Zambia is very rich (an estimated $47 billion worth of mineral reserves, and millions of hectares of unused arable land), but until there is the political will to develop the country, the majority of the people are going to continue to live on less than $1 per day. ”Everything is in place, the graduates, the land, labour and capital. But there must be the political will to change, upset the comfortable agreements that keep the majority poor, but keep the political elite and western corporations with most of the money. That is the direction change is going to come from.”
The biggest problem has been that Zambians have for the last four decades been told half truths and whole lies by those they have entrusted with the affairs of the state to an extent where they now believe the state of deprivation they are in is almost divine.
Look at how they are being dribbled in the case of Moses Katumbi, DRC Katanga governor who until a few weeks ago was a villain. Today he is a saint who never put his foot wrong and never “banned the transportation of copper concentrates to Zambia.”
Because some politician with vested interests justifies the reason why Katumbi’s case is not worth pursuing now, we should all believe it. Katumbi enjoys immunity because he is a senior government official of a neighbouring country.
At one time one Zambian minister was not able to travel to one European country because of his dealings in some unsavoury substances which had landed him in detention at home. Going by this example, there is no reason why Katumbi should go scot-free.


MrK said...

Two decades later and 17 years of the MMD in power, I am sure the statistics have shifted: 99 percent of the wealth is in the hands of only one percent of the population.

And it doesn't need to be that way. All that is needed, is a government that puts the national interest before party or personal interests, and understands that there is no real economy if the people do not participate in that economy. And that the mining companies need to be taxed at least as much as anyone else is, if they aren't going to share profits as well.

I think that creates a huge political vacuum, leading up to the 2011 elections.

Also, I think there is a lot of space for civil society organisations to hold not only the government, but also the 'donor' community to account about what happens to the projects they release funds for.

Anonymous said...

very good !