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The common destiny of leaders who have taken Catholic Priest’s advice kindly

Filed under: Special Comments |

Since independence in 1964, Zambians have given themselves leaders and they have shown the exit door to any one of them who proves to be stubborn.

And over the same period, Catholic priests have stood with the majority poor and offered government valuable advice, policy solutions, including delivering social services especially in health and education sectors.

And there’s a common destiny for all the leaders who have not taken that advice kindly – they have found themselves in problems.

Someone once said that “true leaders always practice the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all their actions”.

Recently, Catholic priest Anthony Salangeta said graphs that President Hakainde Hichilema presented at his press conference did not mean anything to the ordinary people.

Fr Salangeta, who is based in Lusaka’s Chawama compound, said what people needed was food on the table.

In response, President Hichilema mocked Fr Salangeta, advising him to go to school if he did not understand graphs since there is free education now.

But Mporokoso PF member of parliament Brian Mundubile explained how he too was left confused despite being fairly educated.

“I’m fairly educated, I was equally confused. Not that I don’t understand graphs, I understand graphs but relating those graphs to what’s obtaining on the ground today left me confused. What the Father was simply doing was to stand in the gap by reminding the President that ‘don’t celebrate your press briefing. You’ve left most of the people confused’. He put it in that context hoping that the President would pick a leaf and adjust the manner in which he addresses the press and addresses the people. Catholic priests, in my own understanding, have very decent academic papers. They go through rigorous training that first of all ensures that they understand the social aspects obtaining in a given society to a point where they’re able to relate government policies to the aspirations of the Zambian people. They’ve never been silent when it comes to governance. It doesn’t matter who’s been in power, they always provide that critical voice. And all the leaders who have not taken that advice kindly have found themselves in problems,” says Mundubile.

“So it is an insult to the clergy that the President could trivialise that contribution in that manner. It’s also very clear that we have a head of state in State House who is not ready to listen. The rhetoric by President Hakainde Hichilema is clear to everyone now. Zambians must be reminded that the UPND was voted into power based on certain undertakings they made, certain promises that they made. We also understand it’s possible that the way President Hakainde Hichilema perceived things whilst in opposition and the reality, things may have changed. What was honourable and decent thing to do was to come back to the Zambians and say ‘can we readjust on what we promised. What is achievable is ABCD in this timeframe. But to want to hide behind graphs, pie charts will not assist. Everything the President has talked about is mere rhetoric. Go to the Copperbelt. Before he was in government he said he had a solution for Mopani and KCM. He went to America and came back and said he had received pledges of US $25 billion. And the condition by those investors was that the moment he takes over power they were ready to come and invest that kind of money. Has he continued with that discussion? It just died a natural death.”

It is evident that our President has drawn his preferred lines of communication; how to engage in a national conversation – on governance issues. If you have nothing good to say about him, shut up. Hakainde enjoys hearing his voice, that’s why he talks the most. On top of that he delights in being praised. When no accolades come his way, he will shower himself with many. This is why he doesn’t take kindly to anyone who criticises his administration or points at any inadequacies and dysfunctional system of his government. The clergy who criticised Edgar Lungu’s regime and called it a dictatorship, he embraced them then. He always wanted to be seen with them, he exalted them. Today, they offer checks and balances to his government they have become sworn enemies. They were his allies then, today they’re pariahs!

But there’s always a price to being stubborn or to those who elevate themselves above the power of listening!

As Thomas Paine put it, “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavouring to convert an atheist by scripture.”

Hakainde has closed his ears too early; he’s not even halfway his five-year term. And he has failed to distinguish between his previous private life as a chief executive officer of his businesses and that of a public figure – President of the Republic of Zambia. In his business life he could not be questioned by his employees because he was the employer – they probably feared him. But in his current position he should expect Zambians to question his procrastination, decisions, and failure to deliver on promises; including his outright lies. He shouldn’t expect Zambians to keep quiet or praise him when he has done nothing. They will always question him even when he praises himself as his custom is. By the way, the UPND is certainly not the best thing that has happened to this country as Hakainde seems to deceive himself. We have had better political parties that have run this country in the past. They did not struggle in the wilderness the way UPND is struggling, almost two years in power. So, be mindful of this history as you praise yourselves.

(The Mast)


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