Tag: patriotic front

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

In defence of academic freedom

In defence of academic freedom Featured

The threats by Patriotic Front Lusaka Province secretary Kennedy Kamba to University of Zambia James Kayula for commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s third term bid are unacceptable and must stop.

These threats violet our lecturers and students’ academic freedom.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, academic freedom is the freedom of academics to teach and discuss; carry out research and publish the results and make them known; freely express opinions about the academic institution or system in which one works; participate in professional or representative academic bodies and not to be censored. It is grounded in democratic values that encourage scholars to be relevant to the larger society outside their classrooms. It is for this reason that the performance of scholars, for example at the University of Zambia, are evaluated against core values such as excellence, innovativeness, integrity, equity, social justice and social responsiveness. Political affiliation is definitely not one of the core values against which the credibility of law lecturers can be measured.

Academic freedom is the right of every scholar to explore, discuss and engage the general public within areas of specific and related expertise. The expertise of lawyers and law lecturers extends to all aspects of human endeavor because lawyers are called upon to adjudicate matters of birth and death; marriage and divorce; so what is special about the eligibility of a mortal president to lead others even more experienced and principled than him?

Our ruling party leaders and their supporters would do well to interrogate these wider issues that may well be beyond their learning capacity.  

We shouldn’t allow academic freedom to be increasingly threatened by a stifling culture of conformity that is restricting individual academics, the freedom of academic thought and the progress of knowledge – the very foundations upon which academia and universities are built. Scholars need academic freedom to critique existing knowledge and to pursue new truths.

Today, while fondness for the rhetoric of academic freedom remains, it is increasingly being called into question by identity politics.
We shouldn’t allow political expediency to change the purpose of the university and the nature of knowledge.

We need to confront and challenge to this culture of conformity and censorship and defend academic free speech for critique to be possible and for the intellectual project of evaluating existing knowledge and proposing new knowledge to be meaningful.

This short reflection is a challenge and a passionate call to arms for the power of academic thought today.

Fred M’membe

Garden Compound, Lusaka

Lessons from Bill 10 defeat

Lessons from Bill 10 defeat

The defeat of Bill 10 in Parliament last Thursday revealed the true characters of some of our rulers in the Patriotic Front and its government.
We heard all sorts of words, justifications, consolations and sayings in reactions to the Bill 10 defeat.
It’s very clear that anyone can deal with victory and only the mighty can bear defeat.
It’s very clear that our colleagues in the Patriotic Front are opportunists, chancers who have not struggled much or have struggled very little in their lives.
We who have struggled for many years from very disadvantaged positions and have suffered many setbacks know very well that when defeat comes, it should be accepted as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.
The truth is, unless you realise that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
Any time you feel so pained by defeat, it is only because you insist on clinging to what doesn’t work.
There’s no need for our colleagues in the Patriotic Front to be so bitter about the Bill 10 defeat. Defeat isn’t bitter if you don’t swallow it – it’s only bitter if you swallow it. And it seems they have swallowed the Bill 10 defeat. That’s why they are endlessly and invariably spewing bitter words about Bill 10 defeat.

Fred M’membe

Mwika Royal Village , Chinsali
 

Socialist Party won’t participate in national dialogue forum – GS

Socialist Party won’t participate in national dialogue forum – GS

Statement from the Socialist Party on National Dialogue Forum

The Socialist Party has followed the process of the National Dialogue from the very beginning.

We were ready to participate with the church serving as a neutral arbitrator. The church mother bodies still offer some light in this dark and uncaring world that we live in. The initiative was however not given any chance.

The Patriotic Front ignored and disregarded that initiative with impunity. The Patriotic Front apparently wanted a process it could conceptualise, execute and oversee itself.

Today, we are being called upon to participate in such a shameful, manipulative and costly exercise! Just like with the debacle of the constitutional making process, this new attempt is an insult on the collective intelligence and wisdom of the Zambian people. The Patriotic Front is not interested in constitutional changes, electoral reforms, the repeal of the Public Order Act or any changes that would enhance liberties for all – other than itself.

It is therefore naive and wishful thinking to put people’s hopes for equity, justice and peace in this National Dialogue Forum.

The Socialist Party will not participate in such a shameful platform. Let the millions of tax-payers money to be spent go towards meeting salary and pensions of our people. Those thousands not paid are a priority, not the pretentious Forum.

As such the Socialist Party will not participate in this wasteful, corrupt, manipulative scheme of the Patriotic Front.

Issued by Dr Cosmas Musumali on behalf of the Politburo of Socialist Party.