Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Outgoing USA Envoy Mark Storella Doesn’t Deserve Praises

Storella settled for the lesser value of peace and stability to praise the political leadership in power taking after Kenneth Kaunda’s old times, instead of equal rights and justice as aspired by this generation

         Outgoing USA envoy Mark Storella with Zambia's first President Kenneth Kaunda during USA National Day

By Nyalubinge Ngwende
Mark Storella was always going to leave this country one day. His three-year-stay as USA envoy to Zambia was going to expire and he was going to pack his bags and catch that next flight. Storella and his family were not going to be part of Zambia forever. He, and not even any of his relatives, was ever going to make Zambia their permanent home. Never!

For this fact there was nothing to lose if he said things and behaved in ways that were not truthful to what is politically obtaining in the country at present. He would have been an important voice to persuade President Sata and his government to do things right, other than what we have come to know of him—a consummate hypocrite! The kind that chooses to tell king that the barn is still full of stock, when in fact the canker worms and the grain borers were slowly working their way and destroying the storage. 

Even when thousands of Zambians in the rural areas were going to be going hungry, failing to put food on the table, due to unaffordable bag of mealie following the removal of subsidies by Patriotic Front government, Storella would still have his bread buttered and his burger well sauced, coca-cola chilled for the next and other day. 

While an old widow in the rugged hills of Katete would fail to raise money for a bus fare to send her only daughter to attend high school in town because Sata’s government removed a subsidy on fuel, Storella would still have his air-ticket and that of his children and relatives paid for by the American government to go on picnic in Mount Rainier National Park. His children would still get their car tanks filled and drive to their respective schools. 

This is why Storella never gave a second thought when he came out and supported the absolute withdraw of subsidies, without advising the government to consider phasing the prices of fuel for different groups in the economy.

The transport sector needed an elaborate policy that would have been provided some kind of adjusted subsidy. This is because of how each form of transport, from goods haulage to passenger buses, largely affects the economy in Zambia. A little thought was needed and the plight of the poor and middle class was supposed to be protected, instead of being bundled and punished together with the bigger mining corporations and the rich. 

Storella never saw all this. The thought of overloading the executive with unnecessary deputy ministers at the expense of sparing the money to cushion the needs of the poor never crossed his mind. This is because he hardly can put a face on the members of the households who today cannot raise a K250.00 to put their son on a bus from Zambezi to attend college in Lusaka. He cannot even know a family that has to get one meal a day because they cannot afford to get two more bags of mealie meal as their income purchasing power is overstretched by high food prices. 

The American envoy knew Zambia would not be his home forever. This is why he cared little or not at all about the aspiration of a Zambian who honestly loves this country and wants to see it properly governed beyond the disaster that Kenneth Kaunda and his bad politics caused it to be. So Storella settled for the lesser value of peace and stability to praise the political leadership in power taking after Kenneth Kaunda’s old bad habits, instead of equal rights and justice as aspired by this generation.

Zambia has been stable and peaceful for donkey years. But what is there in stability and peace if it cannot progress into advancing people’s liberties? The myopia of Storella failing to see how Zambia is being badly governed today is not love for this country as the Zambia Daily Mail of August 6, 2013 suggests in its editorial ‘Lessons  from Mark Storella’. 

The envoy was blind to the harassment and arrests of journalists because they were not doing the noble duty for a country that would be his future home or that which was to be shaped by a free press for his children to inherit. His inheritance is in the USA. He failed to tell the Patriotic Front and its police force that criticising a head of state is not sedition, not even a journalist reading a copy of military tactics book a crime in the face of a civilised government. This is why I will not apologise calling Storella a consummate hypocrite.

He did not care how the last two years of the government he has showered praises with has turned into a nightmare the existence of our opposition political groups, rendering them almost irrelevant to the political activity of the country. He did not even care to surmise as dangerous the many actions that have reduced our 83 pages, 15 parts and 139 articles constitution to nothing less than a comic magazine under this government. Our parliament and the judiciary are mere staircases to the wish-throne-rule-them-your-way of President Sata. 

All this tinkering of Zambia’s democratic governance under the Patriotic Front did not unravel Storella from being a balloon buoying an ill-fated PF bwato (boat) in the face of rising local and international concern over the diminishing rule of law and basic tenets of democracy. This is because the outgoing USA envoy thought we do not deserve progress and growth in our democratic dispensation. He thinks what we have is enough and we never want to get better. He failed to see beyond the limitations that the Patriotic Front is imposing, callously so, on our democratic progress. 

Such myopia cannot come from someone who loves the country, as the Zambia Daily Mail tries eulogising the USA envoy. 

Storella is a goat of not this kraal—Zambia, so his tail was never going to be the best to brush where we rest. 

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