Tag: bribes

Lying, bullying and bribing people

Lying, bullying and bribing people Featured

As we approach August 12 lies will increase from our politicians. As they always do during election periods, attempts will be made to deceive and manipulate our people with mealie-meal, salt, sugar, cooking oil, soap, chitenges, t-shirts and some little amounts of money. This is the way they try to buy votes cheaply. But the Zambian people shouldn’t forget Michael Sata’s great teaching on this score: Don’t Kubeba – take whatever they bring, and even ask them for more, but don’t vote for them! Don’t let them fool you, instead fool them.
Remember: liars promise heaven but can’t deliver even purgatory.
For us, socialists, we say ‘the people will deliver to themselves justice, equity and peace’. It’s not anyone else but yourselves delivering to yourselves all these things. What you can’t do for yourselves, no one will do it for you. Leaders lead, the people govern.
They will tell you that if you vote for us we will give you this, deliver you this, bring this and that. Do they bring it? Do they deliver it?
For us, we always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.
We believe in telling our the truth and not lies and in exposing lies whenever they are told. We must hide nothing from the masses of our people. We must not mask difficulties, mistakes or failures. And we should claim no easy victories. That is what believe in and teach ourselves.
A socialist should have largeness of mind and he or she should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the people as his or her very own and subordinate his or her personal interests to those of the masses.
Every comrade must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the words and deeds of a socialist is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. At no time and in no circumstances should a socialist place his personal interests first; he should subordinate them to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence, selfishness, slacking, corruption, seeking the limelight, and so on, are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one’s energy, whole-hearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect.
Socialists must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interests of the people; socialists must be ready at all times to correct their mistakes, because mistakes are against the interests of the people.
Socialists must always go into the why’s and wherefore’s of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness.
Socialists should set an example in being practical as well as far-sighted. For only by being practical can they fulfil the appointed tasks, and only far-sightedness can prevent them from losing their bearings in the march forward. Socialists should be the most farsighted, the most self-sacrificing, the most resolute, and the least prejudiced in sizing up situations, and should rely on the majority of the masses and win their support.
We socialists are like seeds and the people are like the soil. Wherever we go, we must unite with the people, take root and blossom among them. We must be able to integrate ourselves with the masses in all things.
Socialists must listen attentively to the views of people outside our party and let them have their say. If what they say is right, we ought to welcome it, and we should learn from their strong points; if it is wrong, we should patiently explain things to them. This is what we demand of ourselves and all our members and not going around telling lies, bullying and bribing people.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

Garden Compound, Lusaka

Electoral bribes

Electoral bribes Featured

All of a sudden the Patriotic Front and its government have so much money to throw around to the Zambian voters.
Where is this money coming from in a government that is embarrassingly failing to meet its debt servicing obligations?
And why this sudden benevolence? All of a sudden people are being given all sorts of handouts and gifts! What has happened?
It’s not what has happened that we should set our eyes and ears on but what is going to happen on August 12 that we should focus on. They are trying to buy our votes with money and ‘gifts’! But are we so gullible? Can these bribes blind us from seeing reality and make us vote for them despite the enormous damage they caused to our country?
Are these really people we can trust to continue presiding over our destiny?
Our country is broke because of the reckless way they have been spending public funds.
Something in the way that they have been handling public money isn’t working. Our issue isn’t just that our country doesn’t have enough money, but that when we got the money, they spent it recklessly. And they spent it on anything.  Truly, 99 per cent of the troubles that we as a nation have with money isn’t that there isn’t enough of it, but in that, we spend it recklessly once we actually get it!
What prompts a voter in Zambia to cast her ballot in favour of a candidate or political party? Typically, her choice would be influenced by the candidate’s identity, outlook, performance or ethnicity.
Cash bribes to voters are also widely thought to influence the voting choices of the poorest and most vulnerable voters.
Trying to buy votes with cash and other gifts in the run up to elections by the ruling party is not unusual in Zambia. One main reason is that politics has become fiercely competitive. The margins of victory are getting smaller and smaller.
Our elections have also become volatile. Our ruling parties do not control voters as well as they once might have done.
Our ruling parties and candidates are more uncertain about results than ever before, and try to buy votes by splurging cash on voters.
But our national experience is that bribing voters in general elections may not necessarily fetch votes. It works much more in by-elections but not in general elections.
Competitive elections prompt the ruling party to distribute handouts – primarily cash and gifts in kind – for strategic reasons. While knowing that handouts are largely inefficient, they end up facing a prisoner’s dilemma, when each prisoner’s fate relies on the other’s actions.
But as we saw in 2011
cash handouts and other gifts influenced a miniscule number of voters. Michael Sata’s ‘Don’t Kubeba’ worked! The voters have become astute, having realised that it was near-impossible for candidates and their political parties to “monitor” their voting behaviour. So they pocketed the cash and betrayed even the most generous candidate.
But there seems to be an overwhelming belief in our ruling parties that they can buy votes of poor people. That’s why they bribe voters.
Bribing voters could have a cultural explanation. There’s a feeling that our poor voters appreciate wealthy or generous candidates. And that in a highly unequal society, cash bribes and gifts create a sense of reciprocity. We have a long history of patronage politics.
Our voters have been made to expect feasts or handouts from candidates – tulyemo! Our electoral politics are increasingly being articulated in the traditional idiom of patronage. The donor-servant relation is increasingly becoming the basic formula through which people exchanged things, exercised power and related socially.
In specific historical contexts bribery may make elections less predictable, dissolving the existing ties by which the electorate are already bound to those seeking office, rather than reinforcing them.
Bribery may be considered an evil because of secondary, knock-on affects. The need to bribe implies the need to raise money. This may take place by corrupt means, or may produce financial and/or political debts, which corrupt the behaviour of politicians when in office. It may be a way in which people outside the political process, whether legitimate businessmen or criminals, such as gangsters and drug-barons nowadays, seek to control it. If pursued on a vast scale, bribery may have unfortunate political consequences by dangerously expanding credit. Moreover, if bribery is prevalent in elections, this will affect the perception of politics both by office-seekers and those who elect them. Office-seekers may come to despise the venality of an electorate, which may, unknown to them, be exercising a considerable degree of independent judgement; the electorate for its part may deduce from the bribes that it is offered, that those pursuing public office are merely self-seekers who are not concerned with the general interest of the public.
This is the reality we have to confront as we head towards August 12.

By Fred M’membe

Garden Compound, Lusaka