Lungu and Lubinda must heed the lessons of history
Whilst the use of violence against an elected official can never be condoned, it is easy to understand the frustration from the PF Party Members who last week assaulted their own MP, Justice Minister, Given Lubinda, whilst on a walkaround of Kabwata Market.
The people known to have carried out the assault against the Justice Minister are the same people Lubinda owes the most to for securing his electoral victory in the last election, and his influence thereafter in Kabwata.
These are the volunteers to have worked tirelessly, both through the campaigning period and afterwards, to provide Lubinda with support, security and political credibility. These are the PF volunteers who have mobilised support on his behalf, carried his messages to their friends and their friends, and sacrificed what little they have to help him win his seat.
All this was done, with a smiles on their faces, for the hope of a better life for themselves and their families. All this, because every day they hope and pray that Lubinda, like many other members of this PF Government, might actually follow through on their electoral promises of making life a little easier for the average Zambian. By giving their children a chance of an education. By creating an environment in which a job might actually be achievable. By knowing if they get ill there might be a chance the Government could help them and their families, rather than leaving them destitute. They have fought with everything they have for this PF dream of a better life. That is until they realised Lubinda had lied to them all along, like this government have continued to lie to the every Zambian citizen.
The actions we saw in Kabwata market were the boiling over of tension that had been simmering since the PF first came to power. The realisation that every promise Lubinda, and other members of the PF government, has made since coming to government was a lie, and none more so than the now fabled line – ‘PF will put more money in your pocket’.
Four years later it is clear to even the most loyal PF voter that their hopes have been crushed. Their dreams have be tossed away to the rubbish dump. And yet, whilst hardship has never been higher for the average Zambian, with opportunities for food, jobs and education collapsing around the country, the toughest part for Zambians to stomach is watching their leaders enrich themselves in the process, at the expense of hope for the country.
Rather than sharing Zambia’s scarce resources with their citizens who need it most, our leaders have kept it all to themselves. They have chosen not to even provide the crumbs of the pie to the people of Zambia, but instead gauge of the whole thing in State House whilst children starve to death around them. We have seen this through the seemingly never ending list of corruption scandals that have emerged since PF came to power, we have seen this with our President taking delivery of a brand new $70m Gulfstream private jet and we see this every day as our ministers dine in the best restaurants in Lusaka and drive around in fancy cars whilst the people they are paid to represent do not eat.
Any student of history can remind us how this story ends, and President Lungu would do well to study the lessons of the past. From Louis XVI in 1793, to Tsar Nicholas in 1918, to Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 to, most recently, Omar al-Bashir in Sudan only this month. Before revolutions happen, there are always plenty of warning signs first, and there is no clearer warning sign than a country of empty stomachs.
The PF Government are at a cross-road. President Lungu and his government can either view what happened to Minister Lubinda last week as violent crime against an elected official and try to catch and make an example out of the culprit(s) in a hope it will put others off in the future.
Or, alternatively, President Lungu and his Government can recognise the lessons of history, and stop leaching from the nation, return the stolen wealth to the nation and instead start leading by providing desperately needed food, education and jobs to the Zambian people.
Only one of these options will enable the rising anger towards this government from the people of Zambia to be quelled - whether or not President Lungu and the PF government recognise that however remains to be seen. Without taking the right path I suspect we are likely to see incidents like what appeared in Kabwata market become far more common and widespread in their numbers in the future, with devastating consequences.