Sunday, July 27, 2014

Explaining development to the people
By Editor
Sat 18 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Senior village headman Simankawa of Sinazongwe says there is need for the government to conduct a deliberate sensitization campaign about the development programmes it is undertaking to enable people understand and appreciate the services being provided to them.

And Captain Lawrence Nyambe (Rtd) says "so much is being done on development and yet so little is known". Capt Nyambe, who is Mongu Patriotic Front publicity and information secretary, says, "What is expected is for us to roll out and reach out to every village and household so that we can expose the developments that are currently being done by President Sata."

But the question is: who is supposed to explain the government's development programmes to the masses of our people? It is usually expected that the Ministry of Information and its departments should explain government programmes to the people. Yes, they should take part in explaining to the people what government is doing. But the greater part of this responsibility should fall on the ruling party, on its leaders and cadres.

It is the duty of the Patriotic Front to explain what its party in government is doing. Moreover, those in government, including the civil servants, are not carrying on programmes of their own. They are there to implement the policies and programmes of the ruling party, of the Patriotic Front, as explained in its election manifesto and by the various policy decisions of its central committee.

The ruling party has a major role to play in the implementation by government of its manifesto. If the ruling party sits back and waits for civil servants and other public workers to do everything for it, it is bound to fail.

The programmes that the government is implementing were not, strictly speaking, initiated by civil servants and other public workers but by leaders and cadres of the ruling party.

But there has been a tendency in Zambia since 1991 for the ruling party's positions and policies to be totally ignored by the government. The input of the ruling party in the policies and decisions of the government diminished since the MMD took over power from UNIP in 1991.

Those in government governed as if they were not sponsored by a political party that had a manifesto and an economic and social programme. Everything started to be decided by technocrats in government and their ministers. The party increasingly started to have very little input in government policies and programmes. Those in cabinet considered themselves to be the party and whatever they decided as the party's decision. The party per se lost check and control on what those in government did or did not do.

In a similar way, the implementation of government programmes became the preserve of ministers and their technocrats. The only way for party leaders and cadres to participate was through business contracts. Those who were lucky won some tenders and in this way 'participated' in the implementation of government programmes. Only tenderprenuers were able to play a role in the implementation of government programmes. The ordinary ruling party rank and file had no clue on what was going on - they were totally left behind. The only time they came closer to the implementation of government projects is when they went to dance for or cheer the president at groundbreaking or official opening ceremonies.

Development programmes belong to their creators. And if their creators are alienated, it is difficult for the development programmes to succeed. Development programmes are supposed to belong to the party in power and not necessarily to a small group in government.

The result of all this is that the majority of the party leaders and cadres do not understand where the government created by their party is going or is doing. And those party leaders in government take very little trouble to explain but expect everyone to understand and support what they are doing.

Here, there is a clear case of alienation of the ruling party and its cadres from government programmes. And these being party programmes, if the ruling party cadres are removed from them, no one is left to explain them to the masses of our people. Civil servants are not political cadres and are usually not very skilled in issues of explaining political programmes. This is a job best done by political cadres.

A government performs its tasks well only when it is able to avoid being isolated from the masses of our people and is able to lead the whole mass forward.

It is only through the ruling party that the masses of our people can be able to meaningfully participate in the programmes being implemented by government. And people's participation in such programmes is the true meaning of democracy. And this is why it is said that the true meaning of democracy is a growth in the confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves. It is a growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding and creating together.
The ruling party is not there just to organise and manage by-elections and general elections. It is there to strongly participate in the day-to-day governance of the country. It is the ruling party that should give daily guidance to government. And to participate in the work of government, a ruling party leader or cadre do not necessarily need to have a government position or office. It is the party that is in government. And being in government, the party governs. Therefore, the party is not simply the president and those he has appointed to be ministers. That's why it is possible to even have non-party members in cabinet because party leaders and cadres participate in the governance even if they are not in cabinet or government in general. Those in government should take their instructions and orders from the party. We should not forget that it is the party that came up with a manifesto and programmes that civil servants and other public workers are supposed to implement. And it is the party that won the election on the basis of its manifesto and programmes. And having won the election, it is the party that should govern. Leaving out the party from government programmes will certainly lead to a huge gap in what is being done and ultimately to failure. It is the ruling party that is supposed to explain its programmes that government is implementing with it and on its behalf.


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