Thursday, October 07, 2010
By The Post
Thu 07 Oct. 2010, 04:00 CAT
It is said that lies have no legs. For lies to stand, the liar is forced to tell more lies. Unfortunately, even those new lies also have no legs which leaves the liar sucked into a perpetual cycle of lies. When we exposed the misery that was afflicting our people at the University Teaching Hospital, Rupiah Banda and his minions were quick to try and downplay the extent of the problem.
We carried pictures that showed people sleeping on the floor in corridors and other makeshift arrangements at what is supposed to be our country’s premier medical facility. In the characteristic kneejerk reaction of a government that is used to telling its people lies and half-truths, there was immediate activity that cleared the corridors of patients.
Some ill-thought explanations were given to justify our people’s lying in corridors. We remember that it was suggested that the only reason why patients were sleeping on the floor was that the nurses at the University Teaching Hospital were not doing their work properly. Even assuming that this nonsense was true, where was the hospital management? Indeed where is the government when our people are forced to sleep on the floor in our country’s biggest hospital because of poor management? Obviously, the problem is more fundamental than what Rupiah and his minions wanted us to believe.
The problem with Rupiah’s approach to national issues is that it is all about fluff and no substance. Rupiah thinks it is all about a few nice words here and there and all is sorted out. This is what explains why there is so much commitment to public relations rather than dealing with the problems of the public. Rupiah thinks he can sort out all our problems by merely making this or that promise. They want to conjure an image that everything is okay when nothing is. This is what happens when people accept leadership for the sake of pleasure and other personal benefits without understanding that their calling is to serve our people.
In an attempt to show that there were no problems in the medical sector and that, in fact, efforts were being made to address the medical crisis that has engulfed our nation, Rupiah went to open the Chawama Hospital. They wanted to give an impression that all was well; that there was even a theatre that was going to be opened at Chawama. But today, their lies, half-truths and public relations gimmicks are being exposed for what they are – gimmicks! Rupiah and his friends moved equipment from the University Teaching Hospital to Chawama for window-dressing. They wanted our people to believe that Chawama had equipment when it didn’t.
Today, we are being told that the moving of that equipment to Chawama has paralysed operations at the University Teaching Hospital, where they have cannibalised the theatres. There is now no equipment at University Teaching Hospital all because Rupiah’s minions wanted to cover up the real problems in the medical sector by pretending that they were building hospitals which were adequately equipped when the truth was different. To them, it was not enough to be honest with our people and say 'we intend to buy theatre equipment'. This simple explanation could have satisfied our people, but they chose to lie and engage in shameful acts of deception that in other countries would have disgraced them out of power.
If leaders can cheat their people, what else will they not do? This is why even corruption is rampant in our country today; we have a government that thrives on lies and half-truths. In such an environment, other vices such as corruption thrive as well. How can an entire government machinery set up a commissioning of a hospital theatre with equipment that they know to be coming from another hospital where it’s supposed to be returned? The purpose of this activity is clearly to deceive the people into believing that their government is working when the opposite is true.
Rupiah needs to address himself to reality and dealing with the challenges that our people face. Gimmicks and public relations stunts will not take him anywhere. But this seems to be Rupiah’s character. He seems fickle and incapable of concentrating on the real duties of his office. Rupiah seems happiest when he is up and about doing nothing. Obviously, he thinks that being president is nothing but a ceremonial role for a party-spirited person. This is why he cannot sit still in State House to ponder over the various challenges that our nation is facing. Sometimes we are left to wonder whether Rupiah is actually running this country or somebody else is.
If he is, what time does he run this country? What does he actually do to run this country? We have no doubt that he is very keenly interested in procurement contracts and similar government decisions. But it is also clear that he has no interest in whether or not the country is running well. This is why he has no difficulty travelling out of the country in the midst of a crippling medical strike. He did this during the last doctors’ strike. But he also did it last year during the nurses’ strike. If Rupiah thought that he was responsible for ensuring that the country was running well and our people were receiving the services that that they need, he would not be so careless with the way he travels without any regard to his duties at home. Rupiah must be one of the world’s most travelled presidents. It would be interesting to know the longest time he has ever spent in his own bed. Rupiah’s attitude is such that he does not really care about whether our people receive medical care or not. Of course, he is eager to boast about how many hospitals and even schools they are building. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail.
How much are they paying for these hospitals and schools they are building? Who are the contractors? How were they chosen? Yes, we’ve heard of figures of close to US $7 million being spent on building basic schools. What are they building, universities? We have no doubt that a close check on how much is being spent on the building of hospitals would also produce an equally startling revelation of a day-light robbery that is going on. These projects are not being built to serve our people; they are being built to provide avenues for stealing public funds. They are also being made to hoodwink our people into believing that development is being delivered. Why else would people go and get equipment from one hospital and take it to another just to pretend that there is equipment when in fact there is none? This is not the way honest governments that are truly dedicated to delivering services to their people behave.
Services are meant to be delivered. Pretending to be delivering services when in fact not will only anger our people more in the long run. Our people may be poor but they know a good service when they see one. It will not be long before Rupiah realises that trying to treat our people as though they do not think and do not understand issues will not take him anywhere. Cheap public relations gimmicks may make him feel good but he cannot fool our people. Rupiah will pay the price for the lies and half-truths of his government.