Kambwili’s Ignorance is Dangerous to Zambia

Filed under: Politics,Special Comments |
Chishimba Kambwili

Chishimba Kambwili

By Charles Mwewa


Plato once said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” And this is very true for Zambia. The ranting of PF’s chief government spokesperson, Chishimba Kambwili, on Radio Phoenix “Let the People Talk” phone-in program on October 9th, 2015 justifies this verdict.


First, Kambwili exposes what most people have been suspecting all along, namely, that the PF lacks a coherent vision for national governance. In modern politics budgets don’t just “balance themselves” and economies don’t just improve themselves, either. What Kambwili is saying is that, “Look Zambians, you deserve to be poor. The governments before us made you poor, so we will continue to make you poor. Moreover, even if we want to improve your lives, we can’t, because South Africa and Brazil are not doing so.”


These kinds of leaders cannot change a nation, they only worsen things. Note what he says, “This is because the economy of Zambia depends on copper. For many years, we have not diversified our economy and tell me what could have been done in the last three months to diversify the economy that could have come on board for us to cushion this problem that we are experiencing if you are saying PF has failed.” This is from a man who is conveniently tasked with the job of speaking on behalf of Zambia. Even first year students in political philosophy courses know that governance is concentric (shares the same centre) not hierarchical. In other words, when you offer to govern, you accept to inherit all the challenges and hopes of the country. The attitude postulated by Kambwili is dangerous because it denotes a parasitic mentality: that of only using, eating and depleting what it finds but without a plan of investing, replenishing or creating conditions for future growth. What Kambwili is saying outrightly is that it is alright for Zambia’s Kwacha to collapse, because the South African Rand is also showing signs of collapsing! A very dangerous hypothesis!


Any government that fails to manage the economy, has also failed to govern, anywhere on the planet. What Kambwili has done is admitting to the fact that the PF have failed to manage the economy. In other words, it only leaves a reasonable person with an unfavourable inference, that the PF through Kambwili may be admitting that they are failing to govern.


Second, on the same day Kambwili was saying that Zambia’s economic malaise was caused by “external factors in the global economy,” the nation’s finance minister, Alexander Chikwanda, was presenting a budget to the National Assembly. Ironically, the finance minister gave the same excuse, “The slowdown in the Eurozone and in the Chinese economy has lowered the demand for, and the price of copper.” There is clearly no creativity in economic governance. The PF seems to be operating on the theory that things will fix themselves. When they don’t, the blame is someone else’s, in this case the European and Chinese economies’. It is sad and dangerous to be governed by people who least understand government. Such people are bound to abuse power or worsen their nation’s economy.


Third and even more dangerous than the other two is Kambwili’s lack of understanding of the foremost tenant of democratic governance. Kambwili challenges the opposition to “…start aiming at developing the country and not aiming at removing one government from power….” This is political ignorance per excellence. And this kind of narrative has been allowed to go unchallenged especially in poor and developing politics. In the first place, in party politics, the opposition is not in charge of developing the economy (though indirectly they may influence debate); only the ruling party has the mandate to govern. Therefore, change of government is inevitable for democracy to flourish and produce results for the people. In economic democracy, when the ruling government runs out of ideas and the people are suffering, the people should demand for its change through the ballot. In the second place, democratic governance entails the consent of the governed. In 2011 and 2015, the people of Zambia did not give consent to MMD or UPND to govern them; they gave that consent to the PF. The PF is, therefore, responsible for the wellbeing of the Zambians. If, as Kambwili suggests, the opposition should be involved in the task of running the economy side by side with the PF, then they should share power in sort of coalition government. And we know that this is not tenable for Zambia.


Whether it is the PF, the UPND or MMD or any other party in power, stop boring Zambians with your excuses, leadership is about providing solutions in crisis times. It’s time to govern, and not to cower!


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