Politics, Power and the Pocket

I recently read an article entitled “Political Leaders in Africa: Presidents, Patrons or Profiteers?” It was written by Jo-Ansie van Wyk, a lecturer in International Politics at the University of South Africa (Unisa), Pretoria. This excellent article is hosted on the website of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) www.accord.org.za/downloads/op/op_2007_1.pdf. Our own Mr. Lee Habasonda is the executive director of the southern African chapter of ACCORD.

For those interested in African politics and leadership, this article is a must-read. This is the article that has prompted the line of thought you are about to read in my recent blog post. Reflecting on the current political leadership being exhibited by our present government, one does not need to eternally scratch his head, looking for an answer to Jo-Ansie van Wyk’s question in the title of his article. The last six months of Zambian’s political landscape have burgeoned into a colossus of unbridled corruption and irresponsible public expenditure.

Reading in the media about the sittings of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by the competent Hon. Charles Milupi, you feel like wanting to jump out of your skin over the numerous incidences of abuse of public funds that are addressed by this committee. Year after year, the office of the Auditor General highlights serious financial irregularities in the management of public funds. Take the example of the K6.9 billion revenue from the Ministry of Home Affairs collected in 2007, and was only banked in February 2009! Where was the money all this time? Who had custody over it? What did they use it for? No doubt someone must have used it as capital for his business, or put it in a personal account, earning interest over money that should have been used on needy areas of our national economy.

But the one saga that has flared people’s tempers is the K10 billion stolen from the Ministry of Health. And the figure, we are told by the Auditor General is actually close to K30 billion, or even more. For a country that is on life support economically, to lose such a colossal amount into individuals’ pockets is nothing short of economic banditry of the highest order.

But how has corruption become so deeply entrenched into the fabric of our society? Are we not able to rid ourselves of its putrefying stain? Of course as Christians we know that from a depraved mind emanates all kinds of sins, and corruption is just one such manifestation of human depravity. If people’s only motive to enter the public service is to feed their penchant for luxurious lifestyles, they will rape our resources to the last Kwacha given the opportunity. And if you do not have a responsible government made up of men and women with principles crafted on the anvil of selfless service in the interest of the people, the corrupt will roost and reproduce themselves in such an enabling environment.
If people’s only motive to enter the public service is to feed their penchant for luxurious lifestyles, they will rape our resources to the last Kwacha given the opportunity.
That is what happens when men and women with a serious poverty of moral and ethical restraint fuse themselves with politicians destitute of political will to fight corruption; you get the illegitimate children of systemic and chronic plunder and political and judicial indifference. What we have in Zambia is a political power debacle that can be traced to the marriage between depraved charlatans and political profiteers, resulting into a gargantuan charade of elitism which is not serving the country at all, but has brought about an internal economic haemorrhage that is gradually taking our country’s life away. And maybe that’s why our government has bought the hundred hearses from China, not only to escort the poor Zambians to their graves in “dignity,” but symbolically to announce the death of our beloved country. The Nyanja words (not very legible though) on the back of this minibus sum up the dire situation we are in: “BANE VITHU VAVUTA.” (friends, life is hard).

What must we do to get ourselves out of this mess? We need a mass revolutionary change of mindset. The kind of change that will serve as a catalyst to bring about decency on the political and economic front. I believe that Zambia is not a lost cause. We have the available human resources that can resurrect this country from the endemic scourge of corrupt governance. Let us allow intellectual rationality, reason and honesty to provoke every informed Zambian towards the ascendancy to the mountaintop of hope, progress, and long anticipated new chapter in our history.

As we approach 2011, the year of elections, let us face this issue with austere truth. Which political party must we bring to power? Is it capable to deliver on the promises and inspire hope? Is built on a strong foundation of transparency and zero tolerance to corruption? Is it humane, reasonable and accommodating to divergent views? Let us do away with leaders suffering from chronic ideological emptiness. Myopic, uncultured, visionless and directionless politicians must not be given any place in our political dispensation. All they care for is power and their pockets. Let them slither into the archive of failure. God save Zambia.


  1. Nice post Isaac. Change is difficult... But all things are possible!


  2. Thanks for this article, Isaac. My contribution to your question, "What must we do to get ourselves out of this messy(sic)?" is available if you visit this link (http://www.conradmbewe.com/2008/12/reformed-christianswhere-are-you.html). Below is the last paragraph to whet your appetite:

    "Look at the dilapidated state of our schools! Look at the broken-down condition of our health facilities! Look at the moral degradation in our townships! Look at the levels of corruption in high and low offices! Look at the number of orphans and widows that HIV and AIDS are producing every day! Look at the endemic poverty all around us! Look at the greed of our politicians and the waste of donor money by the NGOs! Look at the breakdown of family life in our cities. Look at the indifference to basic issues of hygiene and a clean environment by our people. Look at the post-modern mindset that is being piped into our country through the electronic and print media! We cannot afford to perch ourselves and our children up on a well-insulated tree and let the world go to the dogs. This is God’s world and he has placed us here for a purpose. He has taught us his Word and given us good churches for a purpose. I have no doubt that Zambia’s hope lies in the Christian faith, and the Christian faith in its most biblical form is in the hands of Christians of a Reformed faith. Let us get out there in 2009 and make a difference to our world. Let us get the light from under the basket and hang it up for all to see. The world out there needs us. So, we dare not shy away from the demands of being salt and light in this sin-sick world.

    Reformed Christians, where are you?"

  3. Amen brother Conrad. As Reformed Baptists, our hope for change does not lie in the politicians, nor in any form of political activism. But our hope lies in a Christian faith that is lived out in the public square. We are to engage our society in all areas of life. We need to come out of our closets, engage and transform our culture by being men and women whose lives reflect the reality of the power of the gospel of Christ.