By Proff. Mwine Lubemba
THE extended family is an essential part of Zambian culture. For the second time in less than a year, we gathered for another funeral last week.
A professional fumigation company assisted to fumigate the house before and after the funeral gathering. Strict masking up and social distancing was observed.
Mourners sat one meter apart in the garden making it clumsy to have a tete-a-tete conversation. It was easy to eavesdrop on any discussion.
I was particularly attracted to loud boisterous discussions by a group of nephews and their friends who were meeting for the first time after a long while whom, from the number of empty bottles under their chairs, I suspected were drunk on Black Label Whiskey.
It was also easy to tell political alienations too. My nephew, a scandalous popular social media local newsmaker, name withheld, an associate professor in development economics at Cape Town University did not pretend to hide his empirically unsupported dislike for the PF’s pro-poor politics and social programmes.
He was clearly Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s staunch supporter as I could hear him loudly sidestepping all questions about Mr Hichilema’s character and judgement by insisting to stick to what he profusely – pompously – arbitrarily defined as “the real issues.”
He meant only those “real issues” about Mr Hichilema that only himself wanted everyone should get back to whenever some new unsavoury fact about Mr Hichilema’s present and past came out.
But Mr Hichilema’s record on specific issues is as bad as his track record of repeatedly aligning himself with people who make no attempt to hide their hatred for other tribes in Zambia.
Surely, among the “real issues” must be Mr Hichilema’s failure to unite all 73 tribes in Zambia to work for a common goal as one big-united tribe based on our motto of One Zambia One Nation for the overall national good that will ensure no Zambian is left behind without a meal on the table or languishing in abject poverty.
Among the “real issues” that affect all Zambians is that all land is vested in the President. The President can decide to enter for use on any land in Zambia for the betterment of all Zambians. Using our vast arable land mass, every Zambian willing to return to the land can feed themselves as well as carry out economic agricultural projects which will mitigate high unemployment rates especially amongst the youth.
“Fix” the things
Mr Hichilema has been promising his supporters that once elected he will “Fix” the things that only himself and my professor nephew think is the economic mess caused by the PF. But they sidestep the questions to name these things.
For example, Mr Hichilema may start well to tell us how he will boost agriculture production which unfortunately, he has so aptly demonstrated he is against… if grabbing land from poor rural subsistence farmers for his personal cattle ranches can be taken as typical example of what we should expect should he be elected President.
The idea that Mr Hichilema is somehow different from other politicians can only be based on his rhetoric because his actual track record shows him to being self-centred than most Zambian politicians and at least as opportunistic.
His talk is another story. The speech that Mr Hichilema gave at the February 2021 UPND convention – the speech that was meant to put him high on the national political map to win the August 12, 2021 elections – was one which could aptly have been described as a speech that would have made sense if it had been delivered by a moderate like President Edgar Lungu at the PF national convention at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
But in the world of rhetoric – the world in which Mr Hichilema is supreme – he is a moderate, reasonable man, reaching out to unite the Zambian people and political parties, dedicated to reform, opposed to special interests and a healer of the tribal and racial divide.
It is only in the real world of action that Mr Hichilema is the direct opposite. For example, he is supposed to be a shrewd businessman, yet he has been pushing for lower mealie meal and petroleum prices, which at current world market prices of crude oils and fertilisers, means the government must increase subsidies to the farmers and directly to oil marketing companies at the pump at a time when Government should be cutting down on expenditure.
PF members of Parliament
But this is also what some PF members of Parliament have been pushing the government to do considering 60 percent of all maize in Zambia is grown by peasant farmers to feed an ever-expanding urban population that has also been putting increased pressure for lower petroleum prices at filling stations.
Mr Hichilema is 100 percent in support of the less than 50 predominantly foreign petroleum tanker fleet owners. These foreign nationals who own Zambian registered companies and petrol tanker fleets employ the most Zambian petrol tanker drivers who belong to local driver labour unions.
The union fights on behalf of foreign tanker owners to preserve their grip on the petroleum industry and exempt them from being judged by efficient performance in the petroleum oil delivery industry for lower prices to the Zambian consumers – which is to say, Mr Hichilema is throwing Oil Marketing Companies, local industries, and especially public transport users and operators such as taxis, minibuses and big buses – to the wolves.
Mr Hichilema’s track record on “real issues” is no better than his track record on issues of character and judgement. The recent UPND social media video clip of conveying the facts to the public about the whereabouts of the Hatembos is travesty of their claims about “the public’s right to know.”
It is not a question of Mr Hichilema not knowing, because when he allowed his supporters to parade the Hatembos on social media, he demonstrated conclusively that he knows what is going on. But, for all his eloquent words, he has consistently spoken for the plight of the poor people and the status quo.
Only other politicians’ special interests are called “special interests” by Mr Hichilema and his supporters, whose world class ability to rationalise is their most frightening skill that even my nephew who is an associate professor in development economics is not willing to discuss openly.
Just a thought,