I would first of all like to take this opportunity to congratulate the good and highly discerning people of Zambia for a successful general election. I would also congratulate them for their high level of capability to differentiate between constant empty rhetoric about ability to scoop huge phantom Chinese loans, and, rapid deterioration in their socio-economic well-being.
Interestingly, Michael Sata, who has just been sworn-in as the president of Zambia, was referred to as ‘Michael Satan’ by communicators and serial callers of then ruling party. His image was persistently denigrated. But in the end, the good people of that country told those ideas-bereft, but highly abusive vagabonds of then ruling party, that ,senseless name-calling and vicious denigration of political opponents neither put food on the table nor provides Job avenues for the jobless.
Indeed, I am highly impressed by the amazingly high level of efficiency with which Zambians have been able to tell the difference between a “bitter Zambia” they experienced under the Rupiah-Banda-led administration, and a “better Zambia” promised them in 2008. This level of political awareness by the good people of Zambia is what I will fittingly term as “Rupiah-Bandacracy”.
Africa seems to be coming of age in many spheres of human endeavor and it is significant that we, as people of the black-race, wake-up and embrace such significant positive developments irrespective of how minute it might be, so that we can progressively build on it in order to improve our socio-economic well-being, which has over the centuries, been seen by the outside world as pathetically pathetic.
The ills of slave-trade
In the beginning, we Africans suffered the dreadful humiliation of being bought and sold, just like any other commodity on the international market, when our forefathers were beaten, children plucked from their mothers and young-women raped by foreign occupiers. And in the end, most of these already over-traumatized people were put on ships and ferried across the oceans to the so-called new-found-land where they were made to engage in strenuously inhumane labour.
The proceeds of this laborious and back-breaking enterprise on various farm plantations were then transported to the nations of the masters of these slaves. The labourers who were the primary producers never really enjoyed the fruits of their labour since they worked from dawn to dusk, had very little rest and most of them died as a result of pure exhaustion and excessively long hour of arduous tasks.
This era continued with the resultant effect of these slave masters becoming extremely wealthy to the point where they had enough to feed themselves and to build well-planed metropolis for their generations yet unborn. Decent accommodation with well-planned housing communities sprung up in these metropolises, to the extent where, even today, those who do not have work to do and therefore not earning income, are still housed for free and given some amount of cash to survive.
My Swiss experience
When I first had the chance to travel outside the African continent, my first destination was Geneva, the capital of Switzerland. I was on-board a KLM flight so we made a stop-over at the schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. I actually did not see much of Holland because we were basically restricted to the airport and then also, there was so much snow-blizzard that it was very difficult to see anything around you. It was actually in the month of February which is normally winter in Europe. Even seeing snow for the very first time, was in itself, a great personal experience.
We finally landed at the Geneva Airport and when I stepped foot into the city of Geneva, after going through the normal airport clearance, I literally had to pinch myself to be aware that I probably had not died and found myself in paradise, as described in the Holy Book(Bible).
The shopping malls, scheduled bus, train and tram services, latest models of Benz and BMW cars being used as taxis, taxi drivers wearing designer suits on-the-job,emaculately clean kept streets and general orderly way their whole system run, is such an experience I hope every single African, in his/her life-time, must have the opportunity to experience.
In the city of Neuchatel, very close to the lake, where I stayed while in Switzerland, newspapers were actually left at newspaper-stands, with no-one in charge, at many locations where people actually go, pick the type of paper they want and simply put the money in a box at the stand. It is a country where you can literally go to bed with your doors open and we actually tried this on many occasions, particularly during summer time when the weather becomes a bit hot.
Making a mess of our destiny
Now, the slave trade and colonization of Africa ended, Africans continued to live on our lands and we continued to have access to all our natural and human resources. We formed many organizations to advance our course both on the continent and on the global arena. We continued to have these so-called post-colonial leaders championing what was described as the era of fighting re-colonialism and the creation of what they referred to, at his time, as the “true African personality”.
In the end, they became worse than those very imperialists to their own people, to the extent where what the so-called wicked and exploitative colonial masters were doing paled into absolute insignificance. Reserves left behind by the colonialists were recklessly dissipated by these post-colonial African leaders. Their families and close associates lived life to the fullest with some of them, ironivcally, becoming richer than their respective nations.
Most of this wealth, rather strangely, ended up in banks of these very same colonial masters we fought so hard to get off our backs. Some of these post-colonial African tyrants actually died and left huge sums of cash, belonging to their impoverished citizens, in such banks without anybody knowing. These one-time colonial people continue to have in their bank vaults, enormous stash of cash stolen by Africa’s post-colonial tyrants, to continue developing their nations. And rather foolishly, we turn round to go and literally prostrate before them for cramps, in the form of commercial loans with all its attendant stringent and socio-economic debilitating effects!!!
This type of visionless leadership is what continues to create shameful poverty on the African continent, amidst limitless human and natural resources.Today, it has become fashionable for African leaders who cannot even tell the difference between their very own nostrils and the anus, to simply take the line of least resistance, by simply jumping unto Chinese loans which some of them, foolishly, describe as “free money”. Where on this earth can anybody give you $3billion for free? Does even God, the almighty and all-loving, give anybody money for free?
The Zambia elections
Now, according to an article by Kristin Palitza in The Time Magazine of 19/9/11, it was clear that; weeks of electioneering campaign left no doubt that incumbent President Rupiah-Banda and his Movement for Multiparty Democracy believed Zambia needed China to drive its economic growth. Banda’s main rival, Michael Sata, leader of the largest opposition party, Patriotic Front (PF), saw things differently with a campaign message that “Chinese investors are taking over Zambia by exploiting its natural resources and workforce”.
Chinese investment in Zambia (Africa’s leading copper producer) topped $1 billion last year and came with the promise of 15,000 jobs as well as an additional $5 billion investment over the next few years. Almost all of the money is plowed back into Zambia’s copper-mining industry which inures to the benefit of the Chinese, with only 10% invested in construction, agriculture, retail and manufacturing.
It is perhaps understandable that in a southern African country the size of Texas, where almost two-thirds of the 13 million citizens live under the poverty line of $1.25 a day, economic growth is the government’s priority, even if that growth comes at a cost. The election was therefore going to show if Zambians had begun to realize that “economic growth has not translated into significant poverty reduction” as the latest World Bank country assessment stated.
Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei