The State House attack on Narep President Elias Chipimo can not pass without comment.
The suggestion that Mr. Chipimo’s attack was wild, exaggerated and completely disregarded the realities on the ground was rather harsh.
There were four strands to Mr. Chipimo’s critique.
The first point he made was a question of the rule of law. He did not agree that foreigners should be deported willy nilly without recourse to a review mechanism because this system was vulnerable to abuse.
This was concrete enough because we have the example of Zambezi Portland Cement where the owners have been deported and a legally untenable situation subsists where state police are aiding an illegality.
This is unacceptable. It is also a reality.
The second and perhaps most generalized was an appeal to human character in the manner government implemented its policies. He cited the case of, firing permanent secretaries and District Commissioners and appointing new ones at will, removing hundreds of experienced senior and middle management staff from missions abroad and replacing these with many inexperienced individuals connected by blood or origin.
This is a reality. Over 200 officers serving in various positions in Missions abroad, some of them civil servants have been removed.
This was done in the most painful and heartless manner possible. The people were made to move “with immediate effect” only to be replaced by relatives and friends.
We know the people and no amount of explanation can convince any Zambian that the new Foreign Service deployment has been made on merit.
The third point he made was existential and dealt with the philosophical underpinning of democracy as a political enterprise that recognized and acknowledged the individual as a political entity capable of developing his or her own development.
This philosophy is embodied in our constitution, more specifically in Article 11 which provides for entrenched clauses, guaranteeing the rights to Assembly, Conscience, Protection of law, Expression and so on.
These rights are inalienable to the individual. It means that every citizen in this country has a right to travel to any part of the country and meet any person they desire to meet
It ensures that a political leader can travel to any part of the country and meet a chief, without having a posse of heavily armed law enforcement officer in hot pursuit.
Political leaders have been harassed for less.
Lastly Mr. Chipimo raised an ideological question. He sought to analyze the present in relation to the vision and future as envisioned and espoused by the Patriotic Front.
He did not think that renaming airports, creating new districts overnight, moving provincial capitals, relocating districts, poaching Opposition members, engineering by-elections, jailing Opposition leaders, creating new ministries, shuffling ministries was a priority.
In his conclusions Mr. Chipimo stated that those holding positions of power and authority need to know that they have an extra duty to listen carefully to their critics and to allow everyone the freedom to serve their country in the best way they know how:
This admonition is not wild by any stretch of the imagination.