I want to be a benevolent opposition leader, but Bally has zero accomplishments to his name

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I want to be a benevolent opposition leader, but Bally has zero accomplishments to his name
I want to be a benevolent opposition leader, but Bally has zero accomplishments to his name

Africa-Press – Zambia. 1. In Zambia, or should I just say in Africa, being an opposition leader is akin to being a leper. No one wants to publicly associate with you under the guise of avoiding the irk of the Government of the day, whether actual or imagined. If you are fortunate enough to make it and become Republican President, however, then the tide changes and everyone will want to associate with you.

Everyone will claim to have been with you as you fought for power in the trenches. In my particular case, however, when I do manage to hold a conversation with a “well-wisher”, the theme is often that I condemn the Government too much. That is unfair on the Government. That my checks and balances are laced with malice because I regret having exited from the Opposition Alliance because if I did not, then I would have been a Minister in the new dawn administration now. That going forward, I should be a benevolent opposition leader and occasionally say nice things about the new dawn administration.

2. That is a compelling submission indeed. However it is premised on the assumption that the new dawn administration has been doing good things and bad things and that I only cherry-pick and amplify on the bad things in an effort to paint them black.

Well, maybe that is really the case but from my standpoint, it isn’t. I genuinely do not see anything good that they new dawn administration has done in the past 5 months. And if I pushed myself to say something good about this new government, I would be lying. And I don’t want to lie. I know for certain that people do point to certain perceived accomplishments of the new dawn administration such as removal of cadres and political violence, payment of retirees, payment of farmers, fight against corruption, freedom of expression etcetera. So let us dwell a little bit on these issues and discuss them in greater detail.

3. Removal of cadres from the streets and end in political violence: it is a fallacy for anyone to think that UPND has removed cadres from the streets and that political violence has ended. UPND Cadres are even more lawless than PF cadres. Just a few weeks ago when Nakachinda appeared at Chelstone Police, they went there and assaulted innocent people and damaged vehicles right at a police station.

The police managed to apprehend a few of them around NRDC area but they were subsequently released without charge. At least the PF cadres that stormed Lusaka Central Police, when PF was in power, were taken to court and convicted. Additionally, during the Kabwata parliamentary by-elections nominations about three weeks ago, UPND cadres led by William Banda attacked three women who were part of the PeP Choir Group and they damaged my party bus and stole an Invertor, amplifier and one playing drum. After the attack, they didn’t even run away, they even started playing our drum right there.

The single police officer who had the courage to confront them was assaulted and his uniform torn, on accusations that he was a PF supporter. No police reinforcements came. The docket is right there at Kabwata Police and despite the fact that the assailants were identified by the victims, no one has been arrested to date. One of the PeP Choir women who was assaulted had to be admitted at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and was five months pregnant. She subsequently miscarried.

So what is the difference between the PF cadres who attacked us in Cairo Road and the UPND cadres who attacked our women choir members in Kabwata during nominations? If you asked me I’ll tell you that the PF cadres were better because they attacked their fellow men, compared to the UPND cadres who attacked our women choir members. So you need to forgive me if I do not join the chorus that Bally has removed cadrerism and given the opposition freedoms of expression and assembly.

4. Payment of Farmers for Maize Supplied to Government Last Year: this is again a fallacy. Amid much pomp and fare, the new dawn administration announced that farmers will be paid on 3rd January 2022. Bally subsequently posted on his page that the farmers had been cleared. However it later emerged that not all farmers had been paid and there are no timelines given for payment of the remaining farmers.

The Secretary to Treasury announced that out of the approximately K1.5 billion that was owed to farmers, only about K900 million had been released leaving a balance of about K600 million. However, our sources indicate that the actual amount that was released was actually around K200 million, meaning that Government still owes as much as K1.3 billion to farmers for last years’ crop, with no timelines or commitments on when this money will be released. Clearly, there is a lot of dishonesty and lack of sincerity on the part of the new dawn administration regarding this matter.

Suffice to mention that we are talking about citizens who worked an entire year to produce that maize and that is their only source of income for the entire year which they need to use to meet their household needs.

If I was President of this country, I would not, in good conscience, go and spend weeks in America and Europe attending useless talk-shops while farmers remain unpaid. I would fail to swallow the T-bone steak that my hotel would serve me, knowing that the money am wasting overseas can help to pay one or two farmers. So forgive me if I do not join in the chorus of believing that Bally paying K200 million out of the K1.5 billion owed to farmers is an accomplishment that I should congratulate him on.

5. Fight Against Corruption: So far, Bally’s fight against corruption is laced with a lot of sensationalism. And for some of us who have been around the block for a while, we cannot help but be reminded of Mwanawasa’s sensational fight against corruption which saw a Task Force being created and staffed by his lawyer friends who walked away with billions of Kwacha’s of taxpayers’s money.

So far I see a pattern whereby false information on the corruption fight is leaked to News Diggers who paste it all over the place only to turn out not to be true, meanwhile the objective of alarming the public would have been achieved.

This was the case with the reported alleged use of the Presidential Challenger Plane to carry US dollars from Turkey as well as the reported 49 properties allegedly owned by Bowman in Lusaka, which reduced to four properties the day after the sensational News Diggers headline.

So far I see a pattern whereby false information on the corruption fight is leaked to News Diggers who paste it all over the place only to turn out not to be true, meanwhile the objective of alarming the public would have been achieved.

Some of us see through these matters and we are not going to be hoodwinked by this marriage between the new dawn and News Diggers which appears to be aimed at exaggerating the successes in the fight against corruption.

Of course, like any well-meaning citizen, I want the perpetrators of national looting to be prosecuted and the money recovered, but that has to be done in a sober manner free from any malice or personal vendettas. My idea of a successful corruption fight is actual convictions and not just arrests.

Anyone can allege and arrest, but the truth of the pudding lies in the conviction. So again forgive me if I do not join in the chorus of believing that the new dawn administration has scored successes in the fight against corruption. Until such a time that am convinced that Bally’s fight against corruption is different from Mwanawasa’s and that it is not laced with malice and vengeance, I will not be ready to give him a pat on the back.

6. So it appears that we are back to square one. I am really itching to be a benevolent opposition leader and I genuinely want to say something nice about the new dawn administration, but my only handicap is that I am unable to identify anything good that Bally and his new dawn administration have done so far. But I am an open-minded person.

I am fully aware that I am fallible. It is possible that I might not have seen the good things that the new dawn administration has achieved so far, and so am appealing to all those who might have better eyes than mine to share with me any accomplishments of the new dawn administration so far.

Because from where I stand, Bally has zero accomplishments to his name. Unless one wants to argue that getting an IMF bailout loan is an accomplishment, or increasing fuel prices is an accomplishment, or engaging in voyages of discovery across the globe is an accomplishment, or paying 30 pensioners out of approximately 227,000 pensioners is an accomplishment, or appointing party members into the civil service is an accomplishment, or giving student loans to 2,000 out of 10,000 eligible university students is free education or refusing to shift to Nkwazi house because it is below his standards is an accomplishment, or having a 34 member cabinet when he condemned bloated cabinets when he was in opposition is an accomplishment, or paying farmers K200 million out of the outstanding K1.5 billion is an accomplishment, or giving mining houses a defacto tax holiday when copper prices are at an all-time high of above $11,000 per metric tonne is an accomplishment, or planning to privatize Indeni and Zesco is an accomplishment, or giving the police a shoot-to-kill order while on the other hand claiming to be a Christian nation that does not carry out the death penalty is an accomplishment, or awarding an exorbitant fertilizer contract to the husband of your cabinet minister who then fails to deliver after being paid 100 percent upfront is an accomplishment, or appointing an archaic finance minister who believes that fuel price increments will not affect the youth because they don’t drive is an accomplishment?

Please do share with me any of the new dawn administration’s accomplishments so that I may have something nice to say about Bally and his government. I very much want to be a benevolent opposition leader, so please help me to become one.

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