Friday, September 04, 2009

Tyranny and tyrants

Tyranny and tyrants
Written by Editor

Tyranny is a cancer that can destroy any society. Tyrants do not allow their people to bring out their best and do what is good for the nation. Tyranny is a destructive force that should be fought at every opportunity.

Fear and despair are the greatest allies of tyrants. This is why tyrants try to instill fear and despair in the people they oppress. We all have a choice to make when we are faced with a despot.

We can choose to be afraid and stand for nothing or stand up and be counted. This newspaper has never considered fear or despair a luxury it can afford. Our calling is to stand on the side of truth. Like every human being, we have our emotions, high and low but we do not allow fear or despair to overtake us. Over the years, we have learnt to master these emotions and use them to our best advantage.

Being in business for 18 years in a country that has not always been media-friendly, we have learnt to be nimble and calculating in everything that we do. We do not allow ourselves to be carried away by pride or even excitement about the things that we do. We try not to allow anger or indignation at the many wrong things that we have to report and experience to cloud our judgement.

We strain ourselves to retain objectivity and passion without forgetting the environment in which we work. There is no price too big for us to pay to retain our right and dignity to write as we please. Tyrants will come and go but our people always deserve to know the truth. We strain ourselves to give it to them.

We may make mistakes but never deliberately. Our loyalty is to the truth. It does not matter how uncomfortable the truth might be or who may be offended by it. We write it anyway. That is what The Post stands for. If we were not committed to the truth and the demands that it puts on us, we would not have survived 18 years.

There are many people who have considered us their enemies. They would have only been too happy to destroy us. What is it that has saved this newspaper? It is an unyielding commitment to the truth. You may not like what we say or how we say it but many of our people who are honest will have to admit that we strive to tell nothing but the truth.

We do not feel an obligation to be nice about it. This is because when people are doing rotten things, they shouldn’t expect polite reminders about the rottenness of their actions. We are not their public relations officers. We are not there to make them feel nice about themselves. Our job is done when we report the truth.

We have always said and we say again that you cannot call others to virtues that you are not prepared to live by. This is why when we are called upon to suffer one indignity or the other in the course of defending the cause we have committed ourselves to, we have no problem volunteering.

In the 18 years of our existence, we have been arrested, molested and harassed in various forms but this has not stopped us from continuing with our work. If it did, tyranny would have succeeded. We cannot allow tyranny and its servants to subdue us. We must fight for what is right. This is our duty and also our right.

Tyranny is determined to produce bad men and women out of good men. This happens when we refuse to stand for what is right or when we defend what is wrong.

No one can deny that tyranny is on the upswing in our country. Rupiah Banda and his minions will stop at nothing to subdue all of us. They will use every opportunity that they have to humiliate us and try to break our spirits. But they should know that this is not the first time tyrants have tried to break us. We have lived to tell the story. Frederick Chiluba tried every trick in the book- and he had many - to destroy us but he failed.

He did not fail because there was something special about us or what we did. We decided to side with a force that he could not defeat - that force is truth. Truth has never failed us. It does not matter how vicious or malicious an attack mounted against us is. Truth always triumphs. It may take time, it might even appear unprofitable but it always triumphs.

Proverbs 29:2 says: “Show me a righteous ruler and I will show you a happy people; show me a wicked ruler and I will show you a miserable people.” No honest Zambian will deny that our people are miserable. Our people are angry because they cannot see where Rupiah and his bungling minions are taking us. On every important issue, Rupiah is not prepared to side with the people. Proverbs 29:4 also says: “When the king is concerned with justice, the nation will be strong, but when he is only concerned with money, he will ruin the country.”

This is such an apt description of where we find ourselves as a nation. We have so-called leaders who care nothing for justice but are pre-occupied with money-making schemes. Paramount amongst these schemes is their desire to maintain power at whatever cost. This desire is enough to drive them, to pervert the course of justice by destroying the prosecution of Chiluba’s cases.

In so doing, they have clearly shown themselves prepared to ignore the best interests of our people and concentrate on their own benefit. If they can retain power with Chiluba’s help, then it does not matter what principles, what virtues they jettison on the way. This is the Rupiah type of politics. This is the president who is not concerned about justice and the interests of the people but about his politics and the benefits he thinks that will bring to him.

This is why his government has no problems defending the shameful withdrawal of the appeal against Chiluba’s acquittal. This government sees no reason to protect the fundamental liberties of its people if in so doing, it believes its hold on power will be weakened. This is why we see today, as Hakainde Hichilema has correctly observed, people being beaten at courts of law, journalists being molested in full view of police chiefs. And yet when an ordinary citizen does something that does not please Rupiah, the whole police machinery is unleashed. This tyranny will not stop on its own. Rupiah and his minions will continue to abuse the state machinery to punish their opponents, political and otherwise. This is what tyranny looks like. This is the face of despotism.

We can choose to give in and keep quiet, thereby hope to have some peace. But this would be a shameful choice, a choice that condemns succeeding generations for whom we should start thinking. You have a president like Rupiah who is in his 70s but does not seem to care that he has small children to whom he must leave this country. Even if he left his children all the money that he hopes to earn by being president, Zambia would still be their home.

And if their home is in shambles, their wealth and inheritance would count for very little. This nation is our collective inheritance. We need to look after it. We all have a right to pursue happiness and liberty without fear of state molestation. This is the right that Rupiah and his type of politics threaten. He wants to turn all of us into his praise singers; his minions who have no opinion expect his. No country can develop with this kind of politics.

We owe it to ourselves to say no to this type of politics. We are supposed to be a constitutional democracy run by laws. We will not yield to Rupiah’s whims and capriciousness. It does not matter how many times they throw us in jail or threaten to throw us in jail; we will never yield to tyranny and the threats of despots. We will always write the truth and write as we please. This is our right. Journalism is the avenue that we have chosen to make a contribution to our country. Other compatriots have chosen their avenues. We will not stop them, neither should they stop us. They have the right to pursue their ambitions to serve their country through their chosen vocation and so do we.

Although we say that all of us have the right and should enjoy the dignity to pursue service to our country through our chosen vocations, no one has the right to steal from the people; no one has the right to abuse state resources for their personal benefit. It is this propensity of Rupiah, his minions and all their agents that we will continue to denounce. They can do what they like to us; they can arrest us a million times, we will never stop denouncing their abuses. This is our right; this is our duty.

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