IT HAS been said that the world is three days i.e, yesterday, today and tomorrow. And if you do not know yesterday, you won’t know what day today is and surely tomorrow will take you by surprise. And General Ignatius Achempong of Ghana said: ‘’Anyone who has a quarrel with the past losses today and risks to lose the future as well.’’
The past, present and the future are entwined together such that one affects the other. We cannot make decisions or actions in life that are in one way or another that influence or affect the past, present or future. The future is something you mold with every move you make in the present. The future is very valuable to all of us because whatever we want to achieve in the future is usually defined by what happened in the past which dictates how we build our future that we dream of.
However, here is a warning: Those who fix their eyes on the past risk a severe collision with the future; those who only see the future can hit much too hard the speed bumps of today. Only those who fix their eyes on God can effectively negotiate the right pace of life.
I had all along pushed the issue of the Constitution at the back of my mind, but I have finally decided to come in on the strength of Martin Luther King’s words, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And indeed, the peasants who fought and died for this country’s independence cannot just be de-franchised by a gang of imperialist-stooges because during the struggle for independence, the African political wisdom was summarized in the slogan, ‘’one man, one vote.’’
I am a free-thinker; a predator and not a victim to the whining and victim-type mentality and unlike the majority of intellectuals who are automated like machines or those who think with breaks on, which therefore puts me in total control of my thought-life or one determined to employ my mental faculties to the maximum. And I feel totally liberated because one of the tenets of being a free-thinker is the ability to tell people what they need to know, rather than what they want to hear. I believe in the biblical teaching that all men are equal and this has behooved me to understand that it means matching brain-power for brain-power with anybody.
Zambia has had four constitutions since the attainment of independence in 1964:
(a) The 1964 Constitution (independence Constitution).
(b)The 1973 One-Party Constitution ……(Mainza Chona Constitution).
(c)The 1990 Constitution (Patrick Mvunga
(d)The 1996 Constitution
(John Mwanakatwe Constitution).
What is amazing is that in July 2008, European constitutional experts at a meeting in Germany said at their deliberations that there was nothing like a ‘’constitution that would stand the test of time,’’ since situations change and generations change. What is meant is that, some articles in the famous American Constitution have been altered since 1770 when it was enacted, but they do not as we do throw away the old constitution in order to enact a new one.
‘’Most Zambians do not have a clue about ‘their’ constitution. Few have had a feel of it and even fewer can recite more than one line. The only interaction between authorities and the people hearing on the constitution is when there is a Commission of Inquiry going round the country asking people to advert their minds on the terms of reference set up by the authorities in Lusaka relating to their governance. Besides this, opportunities of engagement over the constitution do not exist.
“The terms in the constitution are intimidating to most people. The Zambian Constitution, unlike the South African Constitution, for example, is not user friendly. It is a constitution, which sounds like it was made for people in London or Stockholm but not for people in Ng’ombe compound in Lusaka or Siangombo district in Western Province. This elitist tendency is deliberate. The rulers do not really make an effort to come up with a constitution that people can understand and use in the local situations. Some of the terms used in the constitution are such that even legislators cannot make sense of them.
“Nearly all the two hundred plus chiefs we have had in our workshops have never seen the Zambian constitution, let alone know it and yet they are expected to administer their communities as part of the executive branch of government. This is one reason why it is so simple to be dictatorial in Africa.
People are ruled by instruments they cannot comprehend let alone make any sense. Constitutions are regarded as documents better left to the rulers who know better, yet scholars say they are products of the people. Which people? It is very easy in these circumstances to use the constitution to fool the people into submission to misrule.’’
NGOs: Leaders in the Constitution-Making Process.
Why do we spend all our energies on discussing irrelevant issues like the constitution when there more pressing matters like poverty eradication? Mr. Sikota Wina wrote: ‘’We inflate little things and pretend they are big…..our complaints and our controversies, our commotions and our causes have grown ridiculous and we have all of us, become specialists in transforming the trivial into momental. Even deeply personal matters have become public debate, even President Mwanawasa’s baptism can cause political controversies.’’
The capitalist has an instinct or genius for colonizing. His unequalled energy, his indomitable perseverance and his personal independence makes him a pioneer. The capitalist-exploiter is a great strategist and he is as well blessed with the gift of wit and he leads with truth but never to truth. He had taken care of the fact that Indeco, which used to employ Zambian graduates from the University of Zambia was no more and the skeleton of private companies bring their own senior staff. And so our professionals who cannot manage to find jobs outside the country are either employed by foreign NGOs or they form their own NGOs in order to sustain themselves. And according to finance minister, Ng’andu Magande, the money given to NGOs was not properly accounted for and the donors don’t ask how and where it had been taken.
The Oasis Forum comprised of the Council Churches in Zambia (CCZ); Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ); The Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC); the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and the Non-Governmental Organization Coordinating Council (NGOCC). The enthusiasm that was created when the Oasis Forum managed to attract a large group of intellectuals and successfully helped to campaign against Chiluba’s third term bid created two things. The first was that it triggered political ambitions into the hearts of the Oasis Forum leaders. The second was from the capitalist-exploiter who detected insurmountable political potential in both the intellectuals who had supported the Oasis Forum as well as the church leaders. And of course, the combination of which if he played his cards correctly, he could exploit to his greatest advantage. And that was why to that effect, they were told to ‘’divinize’’ the movement (i.e.,it was being referred to as ‘’Church-led Oasis Forum’’), so that they could create a great impact on the Christians’ minds.
Zambia: A Nation without Conscience
The question is: why have we allowed these stooges to lead us to the extent of self-destruction? Where is the intelligentsia that is supposed to be the conscience of our society?
Indeed, it is very unfortunate that there exists in this country, a deep sense of intellectual timidity, which means that the majority of ‘’genuine’’ intellectuals are in the habit of ‘’thinking with breaks on.’’ This is where one realizes the excruciating dilemma in which bonafide intellectuals find themselves because they have to trim their minds continually in order to stay ‘’on course’’, that is, in line with quack ‘’intellectuals’’ who have dominated the intellectual scene.
I strongly believe that Zambia is an intellectual colony, but she badly needs intellectuals with swollen heads i.e., courageous, revolutionized and radicalized in order to become the kind of forum for freewheeling thinking needed to cultivate a creative and dynamic society.
The most distinctive feature in the western societies is tolerance of the human being’s potential to think and create. And this respect for the individual’s mind is the key to creativity.
I also clearly experienced this timidity during my persecution because well-meaning individuals and even intellectuals were advising me not to respond even when Professor Nkandu Luo used to tell blatant lies about Bemba rituals of which being a Bisa knows nothing about. But to me it was clear that what they lacked was the active spirit of confrontation. And by confrontation I do not, of course, mean the negative way of an ugly scene of exchanging bitter words. Confrontation is speaking the truth in a personal face-to-face encounter regarding an issue that needs correction. Confrontation is having the courage to question and reject certain issues so as not to compromise one’s integrity. The author is Paramount Chief Chitimukulu