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The train long left and there others who still think its coming back

Filed under: Special Comments |

“Those of us who look into the face of reality with clarity, noticed long before the elections that the PF had overstayed their welcome.

They had turned the country into a mafia state where only the strong and politically powerful would survive. The qualification for one to get any government job or business was to be a staunch PF cadre.

If you hard muscles and mastered the art of foul language, that moved you even closer. Tenderpreneurship became the most lucrative profession.

Education and professionalism was thrown off the window. literally, even the most educated amongst us, started doubting if indeed education was the equalizer.

We witnessed street and corporate cadres. If you were a civil servant and did not do the bidding of these cadres, you lost your job without any compensation or explanation.

The PF developed a very strong and efficient parallel system to the bureaucracy that far exceeded the laters performance. It was so well structured that it became a way of life.

The cadres were split into three tiers. At the very base and peripheral of the food chain, were the intolerable and dangerous headless soldiers and their commanders.

Their orders were very clear; to inflict severe pain and terror to those who opposed the new system. With their demeanor and their well chiseled muscles, they conquered and ruled.

They collected money and any valuables from the markets, bus stations, booths and from business houses. If you did not comply, you risked loosing both your business and in some cases your very life.

The commanders were well tutored to ensure the money collected did not just get into the pockets of these foot soldiers but that it reached the highest echelons of their political structures.

The second level of cadres was the tenderpreneurs. These were educated and experienced professionals in all fields.

They had become loyal to the new system and created efficiencies never seen in the civil service before. They literally took over the procurement processes of all government ministries, departments, agencies and even private companies.

The procurement officers were recruited to the new system and they had to carry out the orders of these corporate cadres to the very last detail. It’s crucial to understand that these were not mere bystanders, they were accomplices who knew well their tasks and the rewards that came with them.

The system became rigged, corruption institutionalized and ethical business practices thrown off the window. Tenders were shared in bars and lodges and restaurants in the dark hours of the innocent night.

These quickly became the new middle class and some even graduated to the cream of our elite society. These are the ones who supplied air and sometimes they even supplied government with dreams.

On two occasions I recall how government paid millions of dollars for a kiln to a European company that soon after receiving the money, liquidated itself and disappeared in thin air. On another occasion we paid for electricity that we never got.

This became the order of the day. The new parallel system, was so efficient that in some instances, people were paid 25% down payment before even contracts were signed.

Government institutions and civil servants became puppets of the new system and its masters. If you did not comply, your days weren’t numbered but cut shot.

The third tier of caderism was at the very highest level. It involved the ministers, PSs, presidential aides, CEOs of parastatals, Directors and senior government officials.

This tier, was the consummate corporate cartel that plundered this nation to its knees. This tier worked with big Chinese and other foreign and local firms to defraud the country.

It is this tier that bought us fire tenders, the jet, the ambulances, the radar system, obsolete security equipment, the bogus digital migration, the defunct road cameras…. The list is endless.

These big deals are facilitated by the people who flew first class and sometimes on presidential planes.

The kickbacks were done in Dubai were they opened accounts and once the deal was sealed, the money never came to Zambia but deposited into those offshore accounts.

This is a glimpse of how deep rooted this new system had become. It was institutionalized and entrenched. The civil service proper, became a shadow of itself.

So the reason we’re here today is because of this picture above. The system of economic management totally collapsed and a new system of patronage grew rapidly.

To think that you can turn around this within a year or two is failure to understand just how deeply rooted our problems had become.

This was not just a system failure but a value system failure. Most of the UPND cadres, admired and still do, the lifestyle of their predecessors.

This is the reason why most people are disappointed with the administration. They hoped by now, it would be their turn to enjoy the spoils.

There are UPND senior officials who want to hide behind cadres and claim that the people are not happy that cadres are not benefiting from government. It’s not just the cadres, it’s the officials too. They want the same benefits that came with belonging to PF.

This will be the greatest challenge president HH will face. He may end up alone trying to correct this systemic failure. He may become a lone general in this battle against corruption and battle for survival.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that most UPND members, including some of the leaders, were just envious of the lavish lifestyle of their predecessors.

They want to also enjoy the spoils. Unfortunately, it won’t be long before president HH tires on this fight. We may get to the now new normal of the three tier cadre system.

As for the PF, regardless of how much propaganda they try to mount, unfortunately the train left and it’s not coming back. There are new cadres in town and they will do everything in their powers to take over the systems.

Be rest assured that these UPND cadres you are now laughing at will have the last melodious laugh. Some have already tested the tempting sweet side of the honeycomb and believe it or not, they won’t let go.

I must admit that, what was lost in the previous regime was not just business ethics but our value systems became severely compromised. This is the most difficult reconstruction that president HH and his team will have to struggle to restore.

I doubt that they have enough time to change people’s mindsets in the short period of Five years as per the mandate from the people of Zambia. They will need another 5 years to turn around this boat to the right shore.

To the PF, the train long left and it’s never coming back. Accept your new reality and quickly realign yourselves. Life in opposition is tough. Good luck.

By Hinampinga Hampulula


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