Thursday, 29 September 2011

The signs of an autocrat

Zambia now has a new president in the name of Michael Chilufya Sata. However, there is nothing new about the septuagenarian politician who has literally held a post in every regime – from the United National Independence Party (UNIP) era, Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and now the Patriotic Front (PF). There is also nothing new about his politics which are in the main those of ethnicity. This is clearly attested by his cabinet which mostly comprises his tribesmen and women. Lastly, there is nothing new about his cabinet as some of these “new” officials were in the first government of Kenneth Kaunda of 1964. This “new” government is full of old relics. So those youths who had voted for “change” did not do the country any favour. Zambia shall continue going nowhere slowly with this “new” crowd. But what is characteristic of Michael Sata is his gruff approach to life and politics. He has also strong autocratic tendencies which were exhibited during his reign as Lusaka Governor in the 1980s during UNIP’s rule and as a minister in the MMD government. Recently, this behaviour came to the fore when he woke up on Tuesday and re-named all the major airports in Zambia. This was done without any consultation with the country’s citizens (who are its major stakeholders), Parliament or any other state institutions. He went on to assert that he did this with “immediate effect”. In a democracy, a public official, later on a president cannot carry out major societal changes without consulting the citizenry. Zambia is a democracy and we fought hard for this democracy. It is not a one-party state dictatorship or a one man show! People are going hungry to bed, poverty is on the rise, maternal and child mortality rates are on the increase and the first thing this man does when he is sworn into office is to re-name airports? God help us all. We are indeed going for a bumpy ride in Zambia! However, we in the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) have seen this circus before during the reign of Frederick Chiluba. So we are merely steeling ourselves. Aluta continua!    

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Sports mediocrity continues unabated in Zambia

The 10th All Africa games which just ended in Mozambique again saw Zambian athletes exhibiting high levels of mediocrity. Zambia only managed to win three bronze medals. This pales in comparison to South Africa’s haul of 158 medals. What a disaster! It was also sobering to see Mozambique host these games with quite sophisticated sports infrastructure adding to the flair of the competition. This is after Zambia failed to host the last games after bidding to host them in the first place. The reason for this was that Zambia did not have adequate infrastructure and that it could not build modern sports facilities in time. Mind you, Mozambique is a country which had suffered decades of civil war whilst Zambia has been a “haven” of “peace” and “stability”. Why do the sports authorities and the government continue to send under performing athletes to regional, continental and international competitions just to embarrass us? We of the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) are fully aware that the country has a huge reservoir of talent which is not properly tapped and nurtured. The sports authorities do know how to prioritise and focus on comparative advantage in regard to which events the country could surely reap dividends. Let us take the swimming team. This team has never won any medal at any major event – ever, and yet sports authorities keep on sending these “swimmers” who are ironically only white (one wonders where they scrape them from?) to various competitions. It is not healthy for a nation to constantly lose at every event when it can do better. Zambians have just been reduced to losers and whipping boys and girls at major sports events. If this half-baked performance is all the country has to show for, what more of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games? It is noteworthy that these so-called athletes use tax-payers money for their travel, allowances and upkeep. Perhaps, it would not be so far-fetched to suggest that a moratorium be put in place until such a time that the country has high-quality athletes who will bring glory to the country. We are sick and tired of this charade!