As the country heads toward the 2021 General Elections, the Zambian voters will be exposed to many promises – and in many cases, lies – from politicians for purposes of ascending into elective positions. The youth are the easiest prey for such lies.
There is also a group of ordinary marketeers, retirees and then unemployed teachers whom the public sector could not absorb because of limited opportunities. These are fertile minds for political games.
We say this after covering what was termed as “the signing ceremony of the social contract between the UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema and a group of UPND youths” purporting to represent the youth of Zambia.
According to Mr. Hichilema, the contract contains benefits for our future leaders, including quality education, mineral wealth contracts, jobs and business opportunities. “Contracts for mukula trees, transport and several other government programs will be given to the youths. No foreigner will be allowed to do such jobs unless under a joint venture,” Mr. Hichilema said.
Without hesitation, we say to the youth, “Beware of Lies ahead of 2021 Elections!”
Mr. Hichilema is one of the richest men in this country but with no noticeable history around philanthropic or charitable works. Mr. Hichilema made his money, largely from privatization, for himself and his children while many families affected by privatization were left in the cold. One only has to look at his own personal bodyguards and workers at his numerous farms who live in almost abject poverty to understand whether Mr. Hichilema means what he says. We don’t think he does.
In making his promise today, Mr Hichilema claims that he will not allow foreigners to undertake work in certain government programs except under a certain venture. This is very interesting, in view of the fact that Mr. Hichilema sits on the boards of foreign companies which take business away from Zambian companies and haul bucket loads of money out of Zambia to their own countries.
Yes, Mr Hichilema sits on boards of companies which not only externalise huge amounts of profits to parent companies on monthly basis, leaving small amounts to pay meagre salaries for locals. They even negotiate tax holidays on the pretext that they’re investing huge amounts of money only to close shop at end of the tax holidays after they have made and externalised huge profits. We ask, where is the patriotism?
In other ventures, Mr. Hichilema is in joint ventures or partnerships with foreign companies whereas if he joined hands with struggling Zambian companies, he would help to create jobs for Zambian youths. We can ask the youths: which of Mr. Hichilema’s companies employ hundreds of Zambian youths, as an example of his concern for Zambian youths?
The Patriotic Front has not delivered to the full expectation of the youth, marketeers, teachers, retirees, etcetera, etcetera. We are under no illusion that there shall be any government in Zambia or around the globe constituted by human beings which will deliver to the satisfaction of everyone. But Mr. Hichilema should be the last person to promise heaven on earth to our youths.
We are not aware of any effort by Mr. Hichilema, allegedly one of our richest citizens, using his business connections to bring in foreign investors to create job or business opportunities for our youth.
And, before he claims that it is the government’s job, we are happy to remind Mr Hichilema that it is businessmen who create the most opportunities for employment by investing their money in various ventures. It is Apple and Samsung, owned by private businessmen, who employ hundreds of thousand down the value chain to design, make and sell their mobile phones and computers.
Is any youth aware of any investment by Mr. Hichilema which has created jobs for youths? He is a wealthy businessman who should be creating jobs by setting up companies in his own country Zambia.
Despite the many shortfalls by the governing Patriotic Front party, the pressures on economy due to debts which are due, Zambia’s outlook appears to be more promising under the Lungu administration if only fiscal factors such as discipline on expenditure is enhanced, the kwacha is stabilized and the debt are managed, thereby opening more opportunities in the near future to reap the fruits of the sacrifices being made by Zambians.
But all in all, it will be a lie and immoral for any politician to conduct a campaign based on raising false hopes in the youth. It will be important for our youth, teachers, retirees and many others to appreciate that their country was built on real sacrifices and hardships by people like them and not by promises from individuals in exchange for votes.
The hardships that many Zambians are going through today are somehow essential and unavoidable looking at the lack of investments which successive governments should have made in areas such as road networks, energy, transport and infrastructure.
The PF government took over the promises made by previous governments and turned them into real projects which are laying the foundation for our future prosperity as a nation. It will be painful along the way, but the future is indeed bright.
We believe that this is why the PF government has taken its current path; these investments are essential to opening up better opportunities for everyone in the near future.
The hardships and sacrifices our youth, retirees, teachers, and everyone continue to make should not be used as a weapon for politicians to gain favour even when everyone knows that it does not belong to one politician to change the lives of our people.
We would like to remind our youth of a well-known Bemba saying: umunwe umo, tautola inda, meaning, you cannot accomplish certain tasks as one individual.
No individual should make promises for the future which they are unable to fulfil now when we know, they have the means to create job opportunities now, because self-interest is their guiding motive.