After several days of reflection on the current state of our political leadership landscape, I came up with the above headline. It’s the best description of my major conclusion that: we’ve not been spared from the worst state of political arrogance.
Will I be kidding you. If I said Dr Kaunda’s slogan was arrogant?
“Kumulu-Lesa-Panshi-Kaunda!” this slogan often followed immediately after the pronouncement of the “One Zambia—One Nation” slogan. He exercised absolute power over Zambia.
And Brian Risman, Publisher and Founder of The Law Journal UK and Consultant in International Law wrote:
“Western Civilization is experiencing a pandemic—a pandemic of the arrogance of political leadership, no matter what country, or political ideology. This arrogance results in the disillusionment and disgust of the populations of these countries. This situation is very dangerous to civilization, for there are too many precedents of the fall of societies simply because the populace no longer believed in them, or their value. Until the political classes realize they—and not others—are the problem, the malaise of society will continue.”
So what do we mean by Political Arrogance in Zambia?
We encounter a great deal of arrogance every day, so do other nations throughout Africa and worldwide.
It would seem that the political classes on the African continent, even ostensibly democratic ones, are suffering a pandemic of hubris.
Leaders ignore the populace, and engage in policies that have little or no public support at home. Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for example, travelled to an AU meeting in Addis, promoting disobedience and “anti-western-anti-white-man” policies and beliefs that opinion polls in his own country show have little support. Should I mention Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda in the same vein? How about Joseph Kabila of Congo DRC and this fellow in Burundi? It is not the policies per se—it is the fact that their populations do not support their policies—and yet it does not matter to these leaders.
They do not speak to the people—yes, they speak to people of the political or other elite classes—but no, and rarely do they deign to speak to the average person.
In the same vein, politics has become a marketing package in Zambia. Do you support the Marxist-socialist alliance of Wynter Kabimba, Charles Milupi, Mike Mulongoti, George Mpombo, Nevers Mumba and Hakainde Hichilema—or the pro free market alliance of Edgar Lungu and whoever (seeing we aren’t sure Nevers Mumba of the MMD is supported) will finally and firmly join his alliance? It makes little difference when neither speaks to the needs of individuals.
And that’s why, when we read the Headline story “Opposition Unites To Kick PF Out” Sunday, Post Newspaper -31 January- it did not come as a shock nor were we surprised that the opposition thinks by replacing the current PF team with that of Wynter Kabimba, Hakainde Hichilema, Nevers Mumba, Mike Mulongoti, George Mpombo, Charles Milupi and Tenthani Mwanza, with these people, this country will prosper.
I hear you say; Professor Lubemba is crazy…we didn’t realize we had such a limited choice of leaders?
I was SHOCKED too! Can you imagine Mr Hakainde Hichilema embracing and sharing the same platform and actually sitting next to Mr Wynter Kabimba? In the absence of a reasonable explanation to you and me the simple voters, their political arrogance drives them to think “we the voters” must accept that everything they do has a logical explanation that we shouldn’t question.
But if you read this Post Editorial the following Monday, 01 February- you got the answer. Hakainde Hichilema is under pressure to win this year’s election he’s prepared to form a pact with the devil if that’s what it’ll take. It’s all about him and not you and me the voters.
Everyone knows the Rainbow Party is Marxist-communist-socialist and a product of the Cartel -so it’s been told to us several times. Hichilema needs the Post Newspaper or receive no favourable political propaganda –without the Post Newspaper, Hichilema is a sitting duck this election—the Post Editorial told him he needs them more than they need him— it would have meant kissing his ambitions to become President of Zambia —goodbye–forever. Everyone knows this is Hichilema’s last chance. He can’t lose this August election and expect to stand a sixth time in 2021. He has already lost 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015. This August will be his 5th election, if he loses he has to convince his party members he still the best candidate for 2021. So, HH has no choice but to accept an invitation to ‘‘dance with the devil.’’
The Post Editorial – Monday- clearly tells it all. HH initiated the reconciliation process. He sent an emissary to the Post Newspaper. But I’ve a message for HH, the Post came to the table with a take-it- or get- lost- offer-to him— it insulted his intelligence and belittled his political prowess—. HH has been reduced to a mere puppet—a beggar.
The tone in the Post Editorial doesn’t hide this point. HH doesn’t stand a chance to win 2016 without the newspapers assistance. It puts HH in an awkward position. The Rainbow Party president is a member of the Cartel. He’ll not accept anything less than a presidential running mate position. But let’s leave this thought process for now, while we try to sort out what we think is going on in our country’s political leadership today…
There is a cancer growing in Zambia. It’s a cancer of ignorance and lack of leadership qualities, and it’s growing into a malignancy. Too many of us, both in and out of public service, cannot or will not recognize what’s threatening our very existence and cannot decide elemental questions like: is capitalism better than Marxist-socialism?
Why? The lack of political leadership has been nothing less than stunning. All our politicians, (yes— including the PF) with much support of the grassroots, refuse to see the world as it is.
Our ignorance is equally devastating in its depth of illiteracy as to what socialism entails. There is Wynter Kabimba, a sworn Marxist-socialist, now a serious contender for the 2016 presidential running mate nomination under the UPND or they don’t get covered in the Post Newspaper and that can only be interpreted to mean that all of the current UPND Party Members of parliament and their supporters believe or have been forced to believe that Marxist-socialism is either good or are open to it as long as they can use it to get into State House.
But seriously, do our schools still teach history and economics? Do they teach that the only difference between socialism and communism is that socialism is voted in while communism is forced in? And if they still do teach economics, are they teaching that waiting in lines for long hours for a pair of Bata shoes, a bag of mealie meal, sugar, salt, cocking oil, bath soap, toothpaste, Coca-Cola, Mosi beer, (if any are available) is better than a trip to the many malls that have been built since Chiluba’s market economics were introduced? —- Such as Manda Hill, Arcades, Levy Mall, East Park, etc?
And if our schools still do teach political history and economics, are they teaching that under UNIP-socialism, owning a cell phone was considered a security risk? Do they teach that digital television was banned under UNIP because our leaders thought it would corrupt our morals?
Do they teach that public transportation business was restricted to government parastetal only? Do they teach that fruits such as grapes, oranges, bananas, apples, and even bread and butter were considered unnecessary capitalist bourgeoisie foods?
We should not behave like ostriches, because it’s true, some voters, especially young voters, are supporting Marxist-socialist policies that are promising them free hand outs— even if it means sharing poverty. That tells me that there is a tremendous knowledge gap created by an education system that is antithetical to our very system of government and our Judeo-Christian heritage. And that it has bled profusely into our culture, government, entertainment and institutions.
This disease did not happen overnight. It has been long time coming –since UNIP days— and it has recently, since the Mwanawasa era, been allowed to grow unrestrained.
The future always belongs to those who are willing to see beyond the next hill, accept it for what it is and deal with it. Today, the cancer is growing and it will, unless it’s checked, kill the host. This simply means, all of us, will perish together as fools.
That’s why this election is important to us all. We have to stop this cancer from spreading and destroy it before it kills us all.
Instead we have seen political party alliances were hurriedly assembled in the hope of an outright win in the very first round vote of the August 2016 presidential and parliamentary election under the new constitution requirement of a 50+1 vote for the overall presidential winner. This is supposed to fill us with happy thought about self-government, civic virtue, rational deliberation, and about alliance politics as the way the people’s will is put into effect.
But to the contrary, we should spurn what the establishment would have us celebrate. Zambian politics operate according to principles that would horrify us if we observed them in our private lives, and that would get us arrested if we tried to live by them. Our Government can steal from us and call it taxation, kidnap us and call it conscription, kill us and call it combating crime.
And yet our politicians tell us to fear capitalism, of all things.
But what after all, is capitalism and the free market? They are nothing more than the sum of total voluntary exchanges in society.
When we engage in a voluntary exchange—when I buy a roasted cob of maize on the street for K2.0, or when you hire someone for say K12.5 per hour—both sides are better off than they would have been in the absence of the exchange.
We can’t say the same for our interaction with our government, since we pay the government under threat of violence. The government surely ends up better off.
Our Zambian companies that increase their profits, thanks to free markets and cheap Chinese innovation, cannot rest on their laurels. Other companies will adopt and buy the same technologies themselves, and those high profits will dissipate. The original company must continue to press forward, striving to devise still newer ways to please their fellow men. Our government operates under no such conditions. It can remain as backward as it likes. There are no other governments in competition, in any case any other government or company are typically prohibited from competing with it.
The government’s priorities arbitrarily override our own. Maize and not cassava, millet or sorghum “is important for the Zambian farmers,” one candidate says. So because the government has decided some interest group’s foolish and economically nonsensical pet project is “important,” what I would have preferred to do with my money is simply set aside and ignored, and I’m forced to subsidize through FISP what the government seeks to privilege.
State media portray companies as sinister, and government as benign. But who wouldn’t rather take a sales call from the Royal Zambezi Sun than an audit demand from the ZRA?
Or imagine if a private company fabricated a web of lies, used them as a pretext to launch a violent attack on a people that had never caused Zambians any harm, and brought about as many as ten may be a hundred deaths and several hundreds more internal and external refugees. That company would be broken up and never heard from again. It would be denounced ceaselessly until the end of time.
Now, all those things did happen under the Mwanawasa regime’s Task Force on Corruption but they were carried out with ‘state’ blessing. And as we all know, there have been no repercussions for anyone. No one has been punished. In fact, the perpetrators earned six digit speaking fees.
The whole thing shrugged off as at worst an honest mistake. Some people are still outraged about it, but even they seem to take for granted that there’s really nothing that can be done about behaviour like this on the part of the government.
Imagine there was a mining company that was somehow so entrenched that despite being responsible for a staggering death toll, it evaded all responsibility and simply carried on as before. The outrage would be deafening and overwhelming.
The market, not Marxist-socialism, brings people together. People of divergent and sometimes antagonistic racial, religious, and philosophical backgrounds are happy to trade with one another. Beyond that, the international division of labour as it exists today is the greatest and most extraordinary example of human cooperation on our planet.
Countless firms produce countless intermediate goods that eventually combine to become finished consumer products. And the entire structure of production, in all its complexity, is aimed at satisfying consumer preferences as effectively as possible.
The state, on the other hand, pits us against each other. If one of us wins a state favour, it comes at the expense of everyone else. For one group to be benefited, another must first be expropriated. At one time or another the state has pitted the old against the young, blacks against whites, the poor against the rich, the industrialists against agriculture, women against men.
Meanwhile, all the anti-social effort devoted to extracting favours from the government is effort that is not available to produce goods and services and increase the general prosperity.
The market, and not Marxist-socialism, is about anticipating the needs of our fellow men and exerting ourselves to meet those needs in the most cost-effective manner – in other words, by wasting the fewest possible resources, and making what we offer as affordable as we can for those we serve.
Ah, but we need the state to redistribute the national wealth, virtually everyone tells us. Whether it’s “monopoly,” or drugs, or the scores of other bad things the state uses to justify itself, we’re constantly being reminded of why the state is supposed to be indispensable.
To be sure, these and other rationales for the state sound plausible enough, which is why the state and its apologists use them. But the first halting steps toward intellectual liberation come when someone considers the possibility that the truth about these things might be different from what he reads in newspapers or hears on TV. The small minority of people who administer the state with funds expropriated by the productive private sector need to justify this wealth redistribution claim, lest the public become restless or entertain subversive ideas about the real relationship between the state and themselves.
And this is where the state’s various platitudes about the people governing themselves, or taxation being voluntary, or government employees being the servants of the people, enters the picture.
Think for a moment just about this last claim: that government employees are our servants. These people staff an institution that decides how much of our income and wealth to expropriate in order to fund itself then the little that remains is what is redistributed. They will imprison us if we do not pay. And we are to believe that these people are our servants?
For those not gullible enough to fall for such a transparent canard, the rationales become mildly more sophisticated.
All right, all right, the state may say, it’s not quite right to say that the people govern themselves. But, they hasten to add, we can offer the next best thing: the people will be represented by individuals chosen from among them.
To paraphrase Gerard Casey, (economist, philosopher, active in Irish politician who led the Christian Solidarity Party in the 1990s) when he argued, the idea of political representation is not meaningful. When an agent represents a business owner in a negotiation, he ensures that the owner’s interests are pursued. If the owner’s interests are defended only weakly, ignored, or downright defied, the owner chooses different representation.
None of this bears any resemblance to political alliance representation.
Here, a so-called alliance representative is chosen by a few insiders in the political party but actively opposed by the majority members. Yet he is said to “represent” all of them. But how can this be, when he can’t possibly know them all, and even if he did, he’d discover they have mutually exclusive views and priorities?
Even if we focus entirely on those people who did vote for the alliance representative, is their vote supposed to imply consent to his every decision?
Some of them may have voted for the alliance candidate not for his positions or merits, but simply because he was less bad than the alternative in the alliance. Others may have chosen him for one or two of his stances, but may be indifferent or hostile on everything else such as his tribal or Marxist-socialist beliefs for example. How can even these people — who actually voted for this alliance representative —seriously be said to be “represented” by him?
But the idea of this political alliance representation, while meaningless, is not without its usefulness to the modern state.
It helps to conceal the brute fact that, despite all the talk about “popular rule” and “governing ourselves,” even in the “free societies” of the West amount to some people ruling, and others being ruled.
When the results are announced this August amid cheers and celebration, then, remember what it all represents: the triumph of compulsion for power over cooperation, arrogance, coercion over freedom, and propaganda over truth. history textbooks may write with breathless awe about our Zambian political system of alliances, but this is by far the worst thing to happen to our politics.
Rather than celebrate the anti-social world of alliance politics, let us raise a glass to the anti-politics of the free market that we enjoyed under Chiluba, which yielded more individual wealth and prosperity through peace and cooperation than any alliance government that’ll be formed this August and its alliance politicians will achieve with all their coercion in the world.
We can go on and on and on, but the arrogance of political alliances is endless…
Just a thought,