Monday, 24 February 2014

University Of Zambia Political Lecturer Ng'oma Peddling Civic Illiteracy

When democracy entails divergence in political views and respect for citizens’ choice to belong to different political parties, University of Zambia political science lecturer Alex Ng’oma’s support for President Sata’s govt blinds him to sound like a political illiterate asking everyone to support PF

 By Nyalubinge Ngwende
University of Zambia political science lecturer Alex Ng’oma is a known Patriotic Front supporter, but he must be careful when he uses his position as an academician to try and solicit support for his preferred political party from among citizens who hold different views from his.

This is because his support tends to be blind and reduces him to peddling political illiteracy.
Dr Ng’oma is quoted in an article saying Zambians must support President Michael Sata’s administration because he means well for the country.

“Citizens should learn to support a party in power until it departs from the good causes it was elected for” (Sata needs support—Ngoma, Post Newspaper of Saturday, February 22, 2014).
The political lecturer seems to be lost in his own field of specialization, particularly losing the meaning of what multiparty democracy and its principles entail. 

Dr Alex Ng'oma
The simplicity of thinking that every government that wins elections is entitled to every citizen’s support is wrong. It defeats the divergence essence of multiparty democracy—a scale that is never in balance and a spectrum that is never white no matter how fast the spin is. It is for this that different political parties are founded on the differences in ideology and preferences of leadership style, giving citizens choice over who and what they should agree and not agree with in issues of governance.

The fact that PF only won with 180,000 votes confirms that not all Zambians agree with its leadership. When PF members accept and tolerate a president who refuses to respect democratic principles and insults with cheap and boring sarcasm pertinent national issues raised by interest groups, does not mean well meaning Zambians do the same.

We the majority of citizens are not happy when various interest groups representing a big constituent are calling for a people driven constitution,  President Sata responds by asking them whether they have ever seen an animal driven constitution for them to demand for a people driven one. PF members applaud and find nothing wrong in President Sata’s answer. But we, who are seeking an assurance over the constitution from the President, in a respectable manner, feel insulted. That already separates those who support Sata and those who prefer other leadership and style of governance. 

Dr Ng’oma continues:
“President Sata has demonstrated political will in the fight against corruption and we have seen him take action where there is clear evidence and therefore, people of Zambia must be patient with him, it is because he doesn’t want to be doing things alone.” 
Political will in the fight against corruption? Oh my foot!
Hope Dr Ng’oma is not talking about the same Sata who told the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and other law enforcement agencies not to investigate any of his ministers unless with his consent. And we have seen what that means. 

Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and then Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba had seriously accused each other of corruption. The ACC cleared Wynter Kabimba and had done nothing about investigating Mwamba.  When Mwamba resigned from his position, falling off with President Sata over the enthroning of paramount chief Chitimukulu whom Sata does not want, GBM has now been brought before the investigation team to answer the same corrupt charges that Wynter had raised but were ignored.

If that is what Dr Ng’oma and The Post Newspaper see as the irreproachable zeal to fight corruption then they must be playing loud vuvuzelas. 

Political will to fight corruption must ensure that all serving in government are bound by the restraints of their public function. If this is not done, the incentive to bear the heavy cost of obedience to the law among the citizens is also eroded. 

The fact that GBM, as Mwamba is popularly known, was perfect while a loyal minister to Sata and became soiled with corruption after the fall off, tell us the laxity with which Sata is fighting corruption within his ranks. This in itself lowers the respect the citizens have for President Sata in relation to corruption.

Corruption goes beyond one getting a bribe but even concealing the crime of others when it fits them best.

It is sometimes shrouded in ‘overt’ projects that are not necessary, but tend to appeal to ministers and  being costly add up nothing in value to work output. Wasteful change of wildlife scouts uniforms and contracts to print local language books for the new school curriculum that backfires must be seen in the same perspective with any other form of corruption. Whether one does not necessarily pocket the money, the wastefulness has the similar implications with actual theft.  

That said posterity will never take long to make Zambians understand why President Sata moved the functions of Road Development Agency to State House. 

Sata seems to be enjoying doing things alone, contrary to the assertions of Dr Ng’oma.

Another thing that Dr Ng’oma forgets is that in a multiparty democracy support must be solicited by those who need it. A political party just as well as the government it forms must be appealing to the citizens who have different interests. But even that people join different political parties to push the agenda they believe is most effective and desirable to provide solutions to the nation’s many and diverse problems. Therefore they cannot be condemned for not accepting the mediocrity of a regime.

Sata has also not spoken strongly or condemned any anarchy from within and without PF to show that he embraces peace, which is soliciting from Zambians.

“Where people feel the President is not doing well, they are free to advise accordingly. Let us maintain peace in our support and demand for certain things because his way of doing things may be different from others, that‘s the nature of life but this is not something we did not see in presidents Frederick Chiluba and Rupiah Banda, so on that he (President Sata) deserves.
The question is: has President Sata shown even slightest indication that he is willing to accommodate other stakeholders as way of even attracting those who hold different views with his? That is for President Sata and his actions to provide the answer.

But luckily The Post seems to come to understand the contrary and points out in its editorial:
“…leadership, due to their multiple tasks in the state apparatus as well as in the ruling political party, can fall, and in fact in some countries have fallen, into a state of detachment from the masses. As a result they have been ignorant of the state of mind of the masses. And this calls for Michael to continue the direct contacts he was well known to have with the masses. His continuous contact with the masses, not at the abstract level but in a very concrete manner—on the scene—is the only guarantee for ensuring that no detrimental detachment from the masses arises.” 
However, as usual the paper tries to exonerate Sata, and they do it without being ashamed peddling untruths:
“It is also not in dispute that Michael and his government are not undertaking projects that don’t make sense. All the projects Michael‘s government has undertaken are socially, economically and otherwise necessary for the development of the country and for uplifting of the living standards of the masses of our people. For this, how can one deny Michael and his government support?
The Post, like their friend Michael, has a problem of separating needs and wants. Zambia needs additional university facilities, but a want of five universities at a goal—two within the same district—is costly and not their priority. Universities must be developed on the training needs of a country, but without that the country will end up with universities that are ‘glorified secondary schools’. Poly-techniques institutions that produce scholars with skills so that they can create own employment is what Zambia needs. 

The Paper fails to notice a restless temperament to spend just because there is money to borrow and because government has a free way to do so. We repeat, as we have always said, that development needs to be experienced because of the conditions that are created in an economy not to be hurried in panic for a leader’s personal glory. 

It is also in situations where a leader seeks to make a personal name that they start pulling down the roof they found before they even know the cost of replacing it and moving material at the site for the works. Such behavior emanates from lack of prudence in the approach, and criticizing such is not being a cynic, but being realistic because national resources do not fall down like snow or rain. Even these natural phenomenons happen in due season and for a purpose.  
We are not cynics and not playing prophets of doom neither. But our responsibility for the Love of Zambia and Democracy—to see the country develop and progress in advancing economic status and democratic rights of the people—remains our passionate drive as the Brutal Journal.  Lack of thorough planning by the Patriotic Front and rushed development will make its projects disintegrate minus realising desired improvement in people’s lives. 

The story Dr Ng’oma is quoted in stands to deceive the public. He chooses to look for the lesser truth as he tries to draw public sympathy on behalf of the mediocre ministers.

How dare Dr Ng’oma gathers courage to tell us that PF ministers are trainees who need a second term to mature for them to perform to the expectation of the electorates? 

Sorry Dr Ng’oma, whatever you are given to say things like this for PF and Sata that do not add up to commonsense, government is not a place for ministers to experiment there inabilities because that is costly to the nation.

How could you, a lecturer of political science, who should be articulating issues at the level above that of a cadre start asking us not to hold our ministers accountable because you believe they are just learning government functions. 

Did you consider the background of ministers you were referring to before making such an assertion? Apart from straddling the private sector and civil society, most of these ministers are coming from professionals that interfaced with government at important levels. 

Fuckson Shamenda has a long interaction with government as a unionist at national level. Bob Sichinga is not only an MP now. He served under UPND and has been working on consultancy contracts with government for a long time. Dr Joseph Kasonde has been a serving medical doctor, fully understands the functions of the health ministry where he is serving. Sylvia Masebo is not a new minister and does not need any two year term to perform. That goes without saying for Prof Ngandu Luo. 

Harry Kalaba comes from the ministry of Lands where he worked as an officer Edgar Lungu has been a lawyer who, in his line of duty and profession, came up close with the functions of government. There is nothing much that need to be said about Alexander Chikwanda, Dr John Phiri and others.

Unless Dr Ng’oma tells us that PF leadership came into politics not ready to govern and interested about functions of government, it does not take long to learn government functions. 

The excuse of the political lecturer on behalf of the PF ministers being trainees and need for another term of five years for them to mature so that they could perform better sounds out of touch with reality. It is not only unjustified, but sounds like a voice of a cadre that ignores to seek the truth. 

Instead of the gibberish he is giving the nation, Dr Ng’oma must be expressing his disappointment that it is taking too long for the ministers to adapt to the functions of an efficient government. He should be advising them that they have every opportunity to learn from experienced civil servants in their respective ministries how government must function. 

Learning government functions only requires an interest of six months and for those with keen interest they learn every day and will not need a five year course to graduate in understanding government.

If these are stories that The Post Newspaper forces on authorities like Dr Ng’oma to do vuvuzela for President Sata and his administration, then the newspaper and it sources must learn to rehearse the information they bring out to the public. Zambians are now keen in analyzing and making sense in political stories. They know what propaganda means. If Dr Ng’oma is to continue retaining respect among the students he lectures at the university, while entitled to his opinion, his opinion must help to enlighten and not deceive. Unless there is something that Dr Ng’oma said in the article he was but ended up being filtered by the newspaper for its squinted interests that are in public domain, what he said calling citizens to support President Sata, lacks any political merit that makes sense.

And for The Post; we see it deliberate negligence to fail to notice any misbehavior in President Sata over the games he is playing concerning the new constitution. The sarcasm, the boring talk of wanting us to live in believing the old constitution is good for governing Zambia.

Our last Brutal Word is that Dr Ng’oma and The Post Newspaper must know that support for a government only comes to it when its leader in the position of a President creates the warmth for such. 

If Sata fails to dialogue with his own party members and insults them every day, Zambia still waits to see when he will have a moment to listen and show respect to any of the people in the civil society, church and political stakeholders.

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