Friday, 9 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu 

Circumstances under which PF president, Michael Sata has found himself in lately are unfortunate indeed. Firstly he suffered a heart attack which saw him rushed to South Africa by the MMD government, his very nemesis, and secondly he lost his son, Chilufya.

But it is the circumstances of his being ferried to the now famous Milpark hospital, together with its twin Morningside clinic, which has been controversial and left his vice-president Guy Scott painted as a “heartless” politician.

All and sundry made comments vilifying Scott, among them ZCTU president Leornard Hikaumba and former Vice President Nevers Mumba citing the so-called Zambian culture of “compassion,” to Mexico, Brazil and other Southern American countries sending their citizens to the US for specialist treatment.

But examining Scott’s statement which was unfortunately repudiated by Sata’s family, one realises the folly of our politicians in particular and the nation in general.

It is clear that politicians want to feather their nests, even if it means going by the old age nugget of wisdom, scratch my back, at the expense of the larger majority which is denied the preferential services that they give themselves. Quite clearly, “Ba Somebody”--a term I used to hear in my teens in the late 1970s and early 80s which hated then and I hate now--are given deferential treatment that nonentities just dream of.

First and foremost, who among Jack Compound residents will be rushed to Chawama Clinic if they can find a wheelbarrow to ferry them there let alone Care for Business Hospital whose services even those who can afford pay through the nose? Who among the villagers in Chief Chiundaponde will be rushed to Chilonga Mission Hospital if they fall ill and they can find a scotch-cart?

Is this the “Zambian culture” that Hikaumba is talking about that sees people in Kapoto Compound die in their homes because they cannot be rushed to the Kitwe Central Hospital while those who can afford to pay for services at Care for Business are even paid for to be treated in South Africa?

On the other hand, Rev Mumba talks about advanced facilities in Southern America when our own facilities in Zambia have crumbled to an extent where they are almost useless.

The folly of the so-called Zambian culture a la Hikaumba is that it is the ordinary citizens who even praise “ama bolukwa” even if they are exploited and have nothing at all.

Before talking about compassion in the case of Sata and all others--obviously connected to the powerful and the rich--who have been ferried to South Africa for treatment, people, particularly the privileged few such as Hikaumba and Mumba, should talk about improving local facilities so that all citizens are treated with dignity and fairness.

No one would have woken up Lusaka International Airport staff to reopen it if it were a poor Kalikiliki man who collapsed with a heart problem for a nocturnal trip to South Africa. What is so painful is that hapless beings do not even have access to what should be basic treatment such as dialysis and have to fork out huge amounts of money to have access to it.

If they have the treatment, it will only be for a few days before they go to meet their maker because they cannot afford the astronomical costs.

If Hikaumba who should be speaking on behalf of his members most of whom can barely afford to exist, one wonders whose interests he represents. One would have expected him to put Scott’s comments into perspective rather than coming out the way he did.

I thought the true Zambian culture which he should know as a workers’ representative is one which adequately supports even the poor with such privileges in times of sickness. We should have seen a number of ZCTU members flown to South Africa for treatment for various ailments.

One perhaps cannot help but agree with President Mwanawasa on government’s insistence on the new industrial relations Bill if labour leaders are to be seen to be true workers’ representatives rather than those with vested interests which can be discerned from their utterances.



For reasons of time and space, I did not attend last week’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations at the Freedom Statue in Lusaka on Saturday, but I understand that I came quiet under a tongue lash from the Minister of Information, Mr Michael, a.k.a Mike, Mulongoti.

Apparently this was for some article in which I allegedly wrote “bad” things about him. A journalist friend who was at the function sent me the following e-mail:

The minister of information was talking about you during the World Press Freedom Day that you wrote bad things about him and he wants to see you because he does not know you.”

It is a small world, I am sure we will meet Bwana Minister, so that we can have a good chat and, hopefully, a good laugh.

And talking about the ministry of information, I agree with PAZA vice president Amos Chanda’s recent presentation to a parliamentary committee about radio and TV regulation which came shortly after one radio station was made to pull down a repeater station which enabled it to go beyond the agreed radius.

As Chanda rightly pointed out, with the internet and the World Wide Web, a radio station in a remote part Zambia, if it is properly networked, can be picked in remote Siberia via the internet.

Similarly, even TV can, and in this case ZNBC TV, is being watched all over the world via the internet. Applications such as YouTube can be used to transmit anything anywhere at any time.

All these developments in information and communication technology is making strict media regulations look anachronistic.

I have argued on one forum before that the only thing that one may not find on the internet are Cabinet papers, otherwise things like the size of the military, expenditure and even readiness for combat of any country can be found if one knows where to look for the information.

The Zambian government should count itself lucky because not many people have access to computers, LOL (laugh out loud in computerspeek).

1 comment:

MrK said...

The problem is that the whole neoliberal/IMF/Free Market ideology is that government should be as small as possible.

Instead, the government should be building hospitals, schools, roads and all kinds of infrastricture.

I think that is the big picture.

Whatever was wrong with UNIP, they understood that. Government needs to create physical and social infrastructure.