Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Useless elections

Useless elections
By Editor
Wednesday June 06, 2007 [04:00]

The value of our parliamentary elections seems to be diminishing in the eyes of the voters. And this phenomena, if not checked, may give rise to very high levels of voter apathy. People don't seem to see any difference that their votes are making. And the frequency of parliamentary by-elections is not helping the situation.

Yes, election time may be 'eating' time for the hungry constituents because this is the time mealie meal and other foodstuffs are given to them freely. It is also the time when candidates are willing to talk to them and help them.

After that nothing, or very little, seems to flow in their direction from the individual they have elected to be their representative. All they start to see is that individual they have elected begin to drive new cars, to dress in new and relatively expensive clothes and appear to be doing well financially.

Their position as voters doesn't seem to improve much, regardless of who they vote for. With this approach to elections, people will soon start to wonder if the only democratic procedure for choosing leaders are the electoral processes they are today being subjected to that are so often prostituted to falsify the will and the interest of the people and so many times to elect the most inept and the most shrewd, rather than the most competent and most honest.

In a truly democratic electoral contest, virtue should open a way for itself, merit should prosper, and conniving, greed and cheating should fail. In a truly democratic election, only those with true convictions and absolute loyalty should win.

What we are seeing today in our elections seems to be a false form of democracy that uses all the means of corruption and fraud to falsify the true will of the people. When one looks at our politicians, when one looks at our political representatives, it is clear that very few of them are there simply to serve the people. Most of them appear to be in politics because of ambition or pleasure; and not to fulfill a duty.

These elections seem to just serve the practice of setting one humble sector of the community against the others. We seem to have divided people into petty political parties that really give no guidance to the nation. We have divided the ignorant and misled them to support unscrupulous and greedy individuals seeking political office.

When one looks at the electoral messages that are delivered at these election campaigns, one wonders what we really believe in. We wonder what type of political system or order our politicians, especially those in government and in the ruling party, want to establish in this country. Every time there is an election, the ruling MMD calls on the electorate to vote for it if they want development.

The question that begs an answer is why then do we have a multiparty political system if development can only come to an area where the councillor or member of parliament is from the ruling party? Does it mean development will only go to the whole country if we all vote for the ruling party candidates so that all opposition in this country is wiped out from councils and Parliament? Do we want to see a de facto one party state?

What about the checks and balances we talk about that arise from having a strong and loyal opposition?
What shocks us most is that these statements are made by members and leaders of a political party which was created primarily to champion the cause for the re-establishment of a multiparty political dispensation in this country. Even its name embodies this desire - the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). Or did we misunderstand them? Was the fight rather just for the removal of Dr Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP from power?

The Bible is very clear that from the abundance of the heart a man speaks and the MMD leaders have spoken loud and clear and with one voice. What this says is that at least Dr Kaunda was very honest on this score. He said at the time as one of the justifications for the establishment and maintenance of the one party state, that multiparty politics hinder development.

The people of Zambia did not agree with him. That is why we have a multiparty political system today. The MMD should not be taking us back. Development is not, and should not be a reward to an area - to a ward or constituency or indeed province - for voting MMD. The money used for the development of a country comes from the taxes which the citizens pay. There is no special tax for the MMD to use in areas where they have won elections. As long as we have this attitude, we will not move forward as a country. No wonder they believe when we elect them that they are our bosses, our masters and should live like kings or queens from our hard-earned money.

It is this same attitude that is making those in government think they have the right to give the people of Zambia a constitution that they deem fit. This is even after the people of this country have made it very clear to them through their submissions to the Constitution Review Commission the minimum standards they want to see in the governance of their country.

The people have demanded a constituent assembly as a mode for the adoption of the constitution but those in government think the people are wrong and things shouldn't be done that way but their way.

This is a clear sign that those in government do not believe that they are servants of the people; this clearly demonstrate that they see themselves as masters of the people and when they speak, the people should listen, and when they tell the people to shut up, the people should shut up. We don't know how far this attitude will take us as a nation and for how long this type of behaviour will be tolerated by our people. Well, everything has got a time - time will tell; time alone will tell.

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