I have been asked my opinion about another election that matters to me. One that is almost eight thousand miles away in a country in the south of Africa. As I describe it, South Central Africa. You see while everyone here is on eggshells, the Presidential results in Zambia are in.
The new Zambian President is Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) an old political ally of the past few presidents, Chiluba and Mwanawasa. Wait one minute, if my memory serves me correct, he may have even played a role in Kaunda's government. There seems to be a theme here. In with the old.
What's crazy is that his opponent is a former Kaunda and MMD crony himself. Now a member of the opposition. These guys are both fossils who somehow continue to be able to stoke the flames of pre-independence rhetoric gurgling from their mouths to entice Zambians. So what in essence were our choices? What makes these guys different from say a Chiluba?
What may be different is that during their lives they have both lived way above the average Zambian's means. They have been able to afford nice homes in our most affluent neighbourhoods, luxury cars and sustained the ability to send their children -sizable families- to schools in England and America. They've both had successes as businessmen and political henchmen, enough to load up on the political vitriol over years. So they, unlike Chiluba may be less inclined to make -as their first act of Presidency- a get rich scheme part of their repertoire. Do not bet money on this last inference.
I have heard the lament of continued MMD rule and how some wished Michael Sata had won. Let me remind you that this is the same guy who as a Kaunda front man, closed the entrance to a government building off a major throughfare and used it as a private entrance, got into numerous verbal and physical altercations with other politicians, openly bribed poor people with gifts at election time, threatened to bulldoze whole neighbourhoods (compounds) and was quite unapologetic of his effusive manner and impolite bluntness. There is a breath of fresh air in such a straight forward man, but there is a man just like that, running Zimbabwe.
Now the chosen man, Rupiah Banda, is an enigma. I believe this is more like the Sarah Palin thing. No one really expected -when he was made Vice President- that he would be called on to be President. Extraordinary circumstances require some extraordinary decisions. This is the first time in Zambian history that a sitting President has died and the constitution has had to be followed as it was written.
The rumblings of Mr. Banda's suitability for the job will not cease. This is a man who is still surrounded by the ghosts that his predecessor tried to exorcise. People like Vernon Mwaanga, waiting to grab another opportunity to rob the people. What makes MMD irritating is their parties colluded incapability to close in on itself and root out filth and corruption. Chiluba is still in legal limbo, we know he stole, now then what? Are we just expected to let time go by and forget that he was broke prior to becoming President and then all of a sudden became rich? Well if we are, then it's the very same guys in power now (MMD), trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
There will be no Jedi mind tricks here. No telling us, "MMD is good!", expecting us to repeat it. We are the next generation of leaders, poised and ready to take what is rightfully our inheritance. For too long, we have allowed these old foggies to tell us we were too young, too immature to understand. They have used cultural discrimination to polarize us. "Tawakwata Mushinshi" (You have no respect) is used on us when we question their logic.
Zambia is way past the point where we can allow guys without college degrees and marginal educational backgrounds to run our country. They cannot compete in post-colonial economic and political stages. A good businessman doesn't necessarily make a good President. We are sitting at the cusp of a new millennium looking at the same faces -in positions of power- we saw when we were kids. "Where is our Obama? Where is that fresh face with innovative ideas? Where is that person who does not allow cultural myopia to define the decision making process? Where is that maverick willing to go against the grain? Where is the war cry, It's time for change?"
Until such a time, you may continue to ask my opinion about our current choice for President and his former competition. It will remain the same. They were both unsuitable and I guess people chose the less of two evils. The political zombies who seem to never die haunt both of their pasts and future. We need some refreshment, and it's not from their fountain. So now, Sata threatens unrest because of the results and the army and police remain poised. I can say only this; I know both of these men's children and as the saying goes, "The apple don't fall far from the tree". Good luck to us all, we're gonna need it.