In the past few weeks, there has been much debate about the issue of grade 12 Certificate or equivalent as a requirement for one to vie for political office. Many arguments have been forwarded by those against this clause.
It appears, in the minds of some of those against this clause the only way to participate in governance of this country is by being a political leader.
Also, the argument that some aspirants have invested their money and time preparing to contest these elections and therefore bringing the G12 Certificate requirement would disadvantage them does not make sense.
Firstly, it such individuals wishing to vie for political office who need to appreciate the value of school. Sad as it may be for them, they need to appreciate that not everybody can be and should be a political leader.
Only those that have the necessary qualifications (G12 Certificate or equivalent) and qualities that are above the ordinary person should be allowed to lead this country.
Why should 13 million people be governed by leaders who can hardly read and write simply because such individuals have spent money to prepare for elections? How can people without a minimum education be expected to steer this country to meaning development?
How can councilors without even a grade 12 Certificates be expected to manage K1.3 million or more as CDF on an annual basis if they do not understand the basic principle of maths and book keeping?
With the principle of devolved governance how will such leaders be able to effectively manage doctors, nurses and teachers and ensure development if they have no such qualifications as a minimum and have not attached value to education and the education system as a whole?
Those that are affected by and are against this clause should remember that even this clause was a submission made by Zambians, just like the running mate clause.
It appears some individuals or groups of individuals including some media houses in their rage, bitterness and quest for political mileage want to draw this country backwards, all for their selfish political interests.
How will those without such qualifications be motivated to obtain them if we lower the bar merely to accommodate ignorance among our leadership?
Shouldn’t such leaders be ashamed that whilst many with Bachelors’ and Masters degrees walk the streets without governing and directing the course of our country plans and economy, they have sat poorly representing this country and mismanaging its affairs due to their lack of or inadequate formal education.
While this may have been the case in the past, times have changed and as a country we should not use the yardstick of 1964 to manage the affairs of this country in the 21st Century.
It is saddening listening to some of our politicians speaking against this clause passionately. One can only wonder what their intentions for this country are. It appears, to many, political correctness and expediency is now more important than accountability and good management of this country.
To expect a country with MPs and Councillors without G12 Certificates to steer this country into development and ensure that we become a developed country by 2064 is utopic.
While it is true that Zambia is a developing country and has many of its population uneducated, both the educated and uneducated agree that good representation in a world like ours can best come from people with a certain level of education and G12 Certificate is the minimum hence the submission.
It is also faulty to assume that only those with G12 Certificates submitted that this be the case and that they are the ones encouraging it.
Many parents who do not have G12 Certificates appreciate and know that their children with an education would make better political leaders and represent them more effectively. How can one without even a G12 Certificate be expected to adequately represent Zambians at international fora and champion our interests as a country?
Politics of today are certainly different from those of the 1960s and to have a parliament or council full of individuals without even a G12 Certificate would a nightmare for this country.
Today’s technology, business environment, management requirements and policies and plans require education. Therefore, if as a country we opt to lower the quality of qualifications required for our political office holders it will simply mean we do not wish to be competitive in today’s global market.
How shall these individuals understand market dynamics, political and economic issues, climate change and other related challenges if they cannot understand ordinary level maths, physics or chemistry?
Another point to note is that the aspirants at councillor level are expected to come from the same district where they wish to contest. The argument been forwarded by those against G12 Certificates or it equivalent is that we may not have councillors in rural areas to represent people if we put requirement.
It is true that all districts in Zambia have enough people with G12 certificates to make up councils in those areas hence the issue of not finding people in these areas does not hold.
Can someone serious tell us which district in Zambia does not have enough grade 12 Certificate holders to make up a council? Additionally, being a political leader is not the only job that people without G12 Certificates or equivalent can aspire for, there are other jobs or things they can do for which they may qualify and for which no restriction has been put.
Perhaps this will be an opportunity for young and educated Zambians who for a long time have shunned some of these political positions due to lack of constructive engagement to take these positions up and steer this country towards the much needed development.
For a country that seeks to bring sanity to the political scene, devolve power to the grassroots and become a developed country by 2064, how can having illiterate or semi-literate individuals as drivers of the country’s plans and economy help achieve that?
Why should we embrace ignorance because of a few individuals who do not wish to develop themselves for whatever reason? Like the president is quoted to have said, they should go back to school instead of wishing to drag everybody backwards.
If getting a grade 12 Certificate is so difficult for them why should governing thousands and millions of people either at local ward level or constituency level be any simpler?
Why should guiding national policy and managing the Zambian economy be easier? As Zambians, it is high time we moved from political correctness to doing the right thing and having a heart for this country.
It has become fashionable to look at everything in the eyes of political party cadres in this country. It appears political correctness and expediency now is more important than doing the right thing that ensures development and advancement of the Country as a whole.
Interestingly, Zambia has had a shortage of doctors, teachers, nurses among others in many of these rural areas for a long time.
And none of the individuals advocating for compromise on G12 Certificates ever suggest that we just allow anyone with some knowledge to become doctors, teachers and nurses because we may not find qualified doctors, nurses or teachers in rural areas.
So are we now saying that being a teacher or nurse should demand better qualifications than being an MP or Councillor?
And as a country we know that the laws will be made by MPs and Councillors and councilors will become even more instrumental in national development with the devolving of governance. How effective do we expect them to be if they do not even have as a minimum qualification a G12 Certificate?
Do we really expect them to manage Doctors, Nurses, Teachers and other government officers at local level and ensure national development if they themselves do not have these qualifications, and do not value them? How will these individuals be able to manage PhD and Masters holders in different fields if they can hardly write their own names.
How do we expect them to value, appreciate and encourage education if they themselves do not have a G12 certificate or its equivalent as a minimum?
Should people with no education manage things like CDF which is currently at about K1.3 million, and when this money is mismanaged we blame councils of corruption or misappropriation.
If one does an analysis of how much money has gone into constituencies from the time CDF was introduced to date for example and relate it to the developments that have taken place in these areas from those monies, in most areas one would realize that there are serious disparities. This fact has constantly been highlight in the Auditor General’s reports among others.
Unfortunately, because some of the politicians have no education yet they want to remain in the corridors of power, they want to pull the country backwards so that everybody can be like them.
Sadly, even government and civil society leaders including some media houses have ganged
Can we take a survey and compare with other countries that are seemingly doing well in Africa (like Kenya) and beyond and check the minimum qualification for their political officer holders.
Having an educated council for example can help such a council come up with business plans and proposals that are able to raise revenue and reduce this dependence on central government for funding. How many council’ workers go unpaid? Should this continue?
When you listen to our parliamentary debates how much inspiration do you get as a Zambian? Rather than seek to turn off the candles of others one should seek to switch on their own candle and ensure light- The message is simple, get an education and stop embarrassing us leaders!
Like begets like, if we sink so low are to embrace ignorance and defend it as a country then we should be ready to have more drop outs from schools.
And they will all have good enough excuses why they did not finish school yet someone else in similar or even harsher conditions finished secondary school and have a certificate because they valued it.
As a country, let us not make changes merely to accommodate failure, rather lets encourage those below to aspire upwards for the betterment of our beloved country.
The discussion should now be how can we introduce night school or other means to ensure that those who are older and wish to obtain G12 Certificate are able to learn and write their exams to get this qualification not repealing the law to accommodate failure and ignorance. Its shameful!