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STILL WATERS RUN DEEP;BEWARE OF SUBTLE UNDERCURRENTS

By Dr Eustone K Chiputa

DURING election campaigns, a lot of things are said and done by political parties and their members to influence the voters. This is normal and it happens in all democratic elections world over.

Often times, politicians and their followers get carried away with the campaign mood as they make assumptions about their winning chances.

What is often glossed over, however, is the level of the subtle undercurrents that go undetected; particularly when the electorate appear unaffected by the political euphoria that goes with campaigning .

delayed service delivery

The undercurrents may take the form of mistreatment of citizens or denial or deliberate delayed service delivery at the hands of people in critical institutions like hospitals, schools, borders, police, Government and other public offices, and critical private sector service providers.

These challenges build frustrations in citizens who end up going into quiet acquiescence, awaiting elections.

Other subtle undercurrents arise from economic challenges that citizens face on a daily basis. When citizens perceive that their political leaders do not seem to attach much attention to the economy, subtle undercurrents build up.

When the cost of living spirals upwards and no one seems concerned enough to assure citizens that the challenges are temporal and would be resolved in time, then undercurrents run deep.

elections day

In a democracy, citizens watch such situations silently awaiting elections day; when the fate of politicians is laid bare; when politicians are most vulnerable; when they kneel before the electorate to beg for votes!

Subtle undercurrents that affect election outcomes world over, also come with an atmosphere where citizens perceive that jobs are being given to relatives, friends and other exclusive groups of people in the population.

When citizens perceive that meritocracy is being sacrificed on the altar of nepotism or cronyism; then citizens go into subtle silent moods, awaiting to hit back where it hurts the most – elections!

Poor service provision, whether in the public or private sector, is another area that sends citizens into behaving like still waters. In health, education, electricity, internet and even private television service provision, a service provider’s failure or inability to render the service rubs off to the political establishment.

political leadership

A situation where a public or private institution’s employees take out their employer’s goods or services and render them as individuals for personal benefit does negatively impact on the political leadership.

A public hospital’s employees’ attempts to delay service provision to make the sick desperate and part away with some cash also sends victims into silence like still waters. Many of these are poor and vulnerable citizens whose only voice is their vote.

Delays in service provision which people have already paid for, like electricity connections for example, do provide ammunition for citizens to go into silence.

Citizens do not care whether the electricity provider has materials like poles, cables and transformers, for example. Citizens want services they have paid for delivered like yesterday!

This affects politics in various subtle ways, as those awaiting such services pile blame on the government; even when the issues have very little or nothing to do with politicians.

waters that run deep

Another area where citizens behave like still waters that run deep is in the transport sector. The cost of transport to and from work and transport for ordinary travel also causes citizens to feel neglected. Transport costs take a big chunk of citizens’ diminishing incomes.

The citizens may pretend to be calm, but awaiting elections day to deal with the situation in the manner they know best; voting!

It is also important to bear in mind the fact that a stifled labour movement is less productive and more dangerous to a nation’s wellbeing than a free labour front.

Available impeccable evidence shows that free labour fronts are more productive than stifled ones. Free labour fronts are known to voice out, to bargain freely and fairly and, most importantly, to implore their members to put their best efforts into their work for maximum output and optimum benefits for both employers and employees.

Free labour fronts sit with employers to resolve work place challenges and increase productivity. A stifled labour movement goes into “silent rebellion” – a state of let us watch and see!

long term productivity

This only guarantees momentary labour peace, without sustainable long term productivity. This is dangerous for productivity and for national wealth creation.

Political violence is another vice that takes away not only support from political parties, but it also sends citizens into fearful silence and quiet observance of the situation.

Many even decide to shun voting altogether. Citizens want political parties that preach peace, practice peace and promise peaceful election campaigns and voting.

Therefore, the political parties participating in the August 12, 2021 elections should know that when citizens go silent, when citizens keep quiet, it is not a sign of acquiescence. It is a sign that there is something brewing.

In a democracy like Zambia’s, citizens remain calm and take in all that is said and done by politicians, but their silence, like still waters, runs deep and all who care about winning elections ought to pay attention. 

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