Friday, September 07, 2012

Katele on lies

Katele on lies
Fri 07 Sep. 2012, 10:30 CAT

Dr Katele Kalumba, a former finance minister in Frederick Chiluba's government, says "politics seems to be more driven by less noble instincts, when its values are supposed to be noble; politics is supposed to be something honourable. I have come to realise that the thing that makes politicians most of the time is to be able to tell lies and do it with a smile. Why can't we do politics differently, in a way?"

This is what Katele is saying. What he is saying is right. But does he himself believe and practice what he is saying?

Katele was convicted by the magistrates' courts of corruption. What is corruption? Corruption is dishonest; it is about not telling the truth, telling lies. It is about manipulating things to illegally and dishonestly benefit oneself. This is what Katele is convicted for.

We have no doubt that Katele did not practice honest politics under Chiluba. Katele participated in all sorts of dishonest political schemes of the Chiluba regime.

Katele knew what was wrong and what was right but he chose that which was wrong. As we have pointed out before, we consider Katele a very nice person who destroyed himself through crookedness, dishonesty, corruption. There is no doubt that Katele entered politics with a high level of moral integrity. But over time, he fell into the corrupt clutches of that corrupt regime he was serving.

We wonder if Katele regrets what he did with Chiluba and other corrupt elements of that regime. We say we wonder because Katele is saying all these nice things he knows the Zambian people want to hear, but he is not confessing his sins and seeking forgiveness. Katele has never admitted any personal wrongs he committed under that corrupt regime.

We believe Katele is a good man who if he starts to approach life and politics differently, he can resurrect himself and bit by bit win back the trust and confidence of the Zambian people. And there is no elevator out of this pit he is in. He has to take the stairs one by one.

But this is a good lesson of what dishonesty, crookedness, deceit can do to a person. Here is a man with immense qualities, a brilliant fellow who has ruined himself and his life over peanuts. They thought money was everything and could get them anything. But where is Katele today? In the doldrums. This is also a lesson to some stupid people who don't want to learn from the mistakes of others and have continued to cheat themselves that with money they can be anything they want.

Clearly, lying, deceit, dishonesty is an ugly blot on a person's character, but ignorant people do it all the time. It is said that a thief is better than a habitual liar, but both are headed for ruin. A liar has no honour. He lives in constant disgrace.

We believe that political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments. Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, fair, just and humane ideas.

The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. And probably this is why John Milton said that "he who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires and fears is more than a king". And Martin Luther King Jr observed that "the time is always right to do what is right".

Unlike Katele, we have found that being honest is the best way to live and the best technique in everything one does. Being honest gives you command over yourself. And no man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.

It is said that leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching. And it is also said that leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, a former prime minister of Malaysia, once remarked that if he was to choose between competence and integrity, he would go for integrity because competence can easily be taught in a person.

Integrity is increasingly becoming a rare commodity in our country. And those with integrity have something rare and worth being proud of.

Katele is right, many people in our politics have no problems telling lies. And they tell lies "with a smile". And because telling lies is not a problem, they don't bother to get to the bottom of issues and find out the truth about an issue before they start talking about it. And this is much more so when those involved are persons they dislike, are political opponents.

It is sad to listen to people who are in the political leadership of our country, either in the opposition or the ruling party, talk so confidently and passionately about things they don't know. As a rule, people in leadership positions must avoid giving an opinion on problems and processes they are not well-informed about. You cannot speak that which you do not know. You cannot share that which you do not feel. You cannot translate that which you do not have. And you cannot give that which you don't possess. To give it and to share it, and for it to be effective, you first need to have it.

Politics is not about throwing dirt on any political opponent, real or imaginary. Politics is not a dirty game as they seem to believe. Politics should be honest and responsible. This is so because politics is an effective way of serving others and working for the integral development of one's country.

If you are truly honest, you won't tell lies about anyone or anything. And if you are honest, truly honest, you won't be corrupted in the way Katele was corrupted and made to lose his soul. We say this because if you are honest, truly honest, you will have a clear understanding of the worth of people and of yourself and as such, you will be unassuming.

We urge Katele to be truthful about the wrong things he did; the dishonesty he and his colleagues had engaged in and the lies they told. If he does this, his influence on others and our politics will increase. For now, the game he is playing is nothing but opportunistic. Katele is not taking any principled position on the issues he is talking about. He will not be able to win public respect and confidence in this way. If Katele wants people to believe him, let him first confess his lies, deceit, dishonesty, corruption and so on and so forth.



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