Saturday, May 18, 2013

'If you want, chase us'

By Editor
Fri 17 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

Dr Guy Scott, the Vice-President of our Republic, has challenged the Zambian people to vote the Patriotic Front out if they think it is not delivering.

We don't think Guy wants the Patriotic Front to leave government in 2016 or 2021. We think his is an expression of confidence in his party and government's ability to deliver to the people of Zambia what they expect from him and his colleagues. It is also a commitment on his part and on the part of his government and party to move this country to another plateau of development and commitment. Of course, this is being said with Guy's unusual frankness.

But there is some great truth and lesson in what Guy is saying. Political leadership, especially at government level, is not about personal enjoyment, aggrandizement or satisfaction of ambition. It is about delivering.
We are aware that politics is an area of great importance for promoting development and community among all. It is a vocation, a way of building up society for the common good. It is a vocation to serve the people.
If one fails to deliver on what they can be reasonably expected to deliver to the people, they have no right to be in government a second longer. If the Patriotic Front and its government fail to meet the reasonable expectations of the Zambian people in terms of uplifting their living standards, they have to be kicked out. It's all about service. You fail to deliver the required services, you are out. This is not chieftaincy where there is a birthright to rule. Here, delivering on the common good is the reason for the existence of political, social and economic institutions. Political power must have as its aim the achievement of the common good. The whole reason for the existence of civil authorities is the realisation of the common good. And the best way for a politician or a political party to fulfil its obligations to the people is to contribute to the common good.
The performance of politicians and of government is best measured by the levels of enjoyment by citizens of the goods of society. Service delivery is a way by which a government demonstrates its obligations to the people for whom it is put in place. The ease with which the people access various services corresponds directly to the level of their involvement in their own governance. And justice and truth demand that basic human needs should be met and none should be left to perish.
Persons chosen to represent the masses of our people in positions of authority are, precisely, chosen to serve. The primary motivation for a person seeking a position of authority should be a deep desire to help others. Attentiveness to the needs of the persons being served is essential to an understanding and fulfillment of this deep desire to help and serve others.
Political power is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. And the exercise of authority must take on the character of service. If there is no such service, there is no need for one to continue in power.
There is need for those in government to realise that 2016 is not very far away. There is hard work required of them if they have to meet public expectations and deliver on the promises they have made to our people. Some things they promised may not be possible to deliver. This may not be a deadly blow to them if only they dare to face the people all the time and explain the difficulties, the challenges that are there. Our people are not expecting miracles, and they should not be made to expect miracles. We don't live in an era of miracles. We live in an era of realities. We live in an epoch where participatory governance requires that government institutions try to serve the masses of our people within a reasonable time frame. The effectiveness of the various economic, social and cultural development programmes that the government is undertaking will depend on the bridging of the gap between policy and practice. One way by which responsiveness could be enhanced is by improving the provision of information about performances and whatever statistical data about activities of government so that timely and appropriate interventions can be performed.
Public and individual wellbeing should be developed out of the very structure and administration of the state. We are reminded in Proverbs 3:27: "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." We are also told in Romans 12:17: "Try to do what everyone considers to be good."
Economic progress must be accompanied by a corresponding social progress.
Time is moving fast. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before the commencement of the campaigns for the next elections. This government has very good programmes and policies. What remains is implementation and management.
There is also need to realise that the Patriotic Front won the 2011 elections on the back of Michael Sata's record of delivering. Michael has an outstanding record of delivery wherever he has been. This greatly influenced the Zambian people to vote for him and the Patriotic Front in the 2011 elections. This means that the expectations from this government, the government of the action-man may be exceptionally high. This is so because those who have more to give, more is expected of them. Based on Michael's previous record of delivery, more is expected of him and his government.
Of course, there are many projects that this government has initiated - and very good ones for that matter. But these projects will not materialise, will not be completed in time and to the expected quality if there is no adequate supervision from Michael himself. It is good that Michael is now getting out to personally inspect the work that is going on and ensure that it is up to the agreed timetable and quality. If not, we are going to be shortchanged. The Zambian people will pay for poor and substandard infrastructure. Already, some roads that are being constructed don't seem to be of the expected quality. We have new tarred roads that are so uneven and bumpy. An example of this is the Serenje-Mpika-Chinsali road. This is not the quality the Zambian people expect of a road that is coming from Michael's hands. More needs to be done in terms of supervision.

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