Chipimo warns of mediocrity, corruption and greed leadership

By Staff Reporter

Zambians have tolerated political leaders’ mediocrity, corruption and greed, National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo has said.

Addressing journalists at the National Restoration Party (NAREP) secretariat in Lusaka yesterday, Chipimo called for action where citizens demanded for the restoration of dignity in the country.

The opposition leader then regretted that Zambians began another day with the realisation that: “We are mourning the loss of yet another icon our freedom struggle Mama Kankasa” who died in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday.

“Her calmness, sense of dignity and desire for national unity are qualities we should each seek to emulate if we are to build a Zambia that she and her colleagues who were blessed with patriotic vigour at the time of our independence fought so hard to achieve,” Chipimo said.

Chipimo, who was flanked by his vice-president Charles Maboshe, asked why the PF government had borrowed “to buy a presidential jet valued at nearly US$50 million when our rural communities are struggling to educate their children, feed their families, address their basic health needs and attend to their legitimate modest aspirations.”

“Why must we spend 45 per cent of our national income in 2019 on paying off our debts? 42 per cent on running government operations, leaving only 13 per cent for healthcare, education and social support for the vulnerable! Why must we cover up the theft of money meant for the poor?” Chipimo wondered.

“Why are we living at a time when ordinary Zambians are being punished for the reckless decisions and incompetence of our leaders whose lives have only gotten better? They have become richer and richer through charging so-called investors’ access fees to meet with high-ranking officials and through the immoral inflation of contract values on public goods and projects.”

He added that Zambia’s numerous problems hinge on majority citizens’ belief that somehow, electing leaders would mean that “they cared for us, that they would be concerned about corruption, that they would be corrupt but not too corrupt, authoritarian but not too authoritarian.”

“We somehow believed that electing them, even though they were visionless, they would operate in the best interest of the nation. But we have to ask some fundamental questions: Why would a leader who loved his people not institute a commission of inquiry, an independent investigation into the death of a University student Vespers Shimuzhila? Why would a leader who loved his people allow Chinese road contractors to acquire huge tracts of land in a nation with such high levels of poverty and dependency? Why would a leader who loved his people not make it his personal ambition to address the corruption at the highest levels of administration that is destroying the lives of ordinary citizens?” Chipimo asked.

“Why would a leader that loved his people allow his nation to borrow huge sums of money [but] only to squander it on over-priced public contracts, government vehicles, planes and a personal lifestyle that consumes the very debts that we owe? It is hardly surprising that people believe that our nation’s wealth has been handed over to the Chinese?”

And Chipimo lamented about the ever growing phenomenon of teen prostitution, “many now joining the trade as young as 12 years of age” and the new increasing trend of defilement of children by “their very own fathers who can act with total impunity, knowing that as bread-winners they are unlikely to be challenged by their very own wives.”

“The ever present scourge of corruption in our society that seems to have found a comfortable place among our leaders in our Churches, in our work places and our very own homes…. This is not the Zambia that many of us, any of us can feel proud of. We are a country in which connected foreigners are given preferential rights to ownership of land before the citizens to whom it truly belongs, a country in which an unelected cadre can put the fear of God into an appointed public official because of his connections to the highest ranking officials in State House, a country that is ready to allow its leaders to sell the nation’s birthright to the nearest, not even the highest, but just the nearest bidder, a country that is not even able to ensure the safety of primary school examination papers,” Chipimo regretted.

“These are all symptoms of something that has gone badly wrong at the very core, very heart of our society. We can blame the leadership all we like but unless we wake up to the reality that we have all let down our country, we will never move forward in addressing the problems we face. Our tolerance for and active participation in the mediocrity, corruption, greed and neglect that we see lavishly displayed in the majority of our leaders in all spheres of our society…. We have tolerated this mediocrity, this corruption, this neglect.”

He reminded Zambians that political leaders could not behave in a less honourable manner when there was a watchful citizenry.

“In fact, leaders don’t behave well because they are inherently good. Only few leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi had that quality of being inherently good leaders….” He said.

He prodded Zambians to stop admiring those who have acquired wealth illicitly but instead begin to demand a standard of accountability from “ourselves” and from leaders.

“Let us begin this process by committing time to send a clear message to the Republican President and those that stand with him in a complicity of silence and neglect. Let us inform them that we are calling time on this presidency; in 2021 tuleya ku chipimo (we are on a scale),” Chipimo said.

Asked if he was not afraid of the State going by what he had said and what he thought was the reason for citizens’ fear, Chipimo said: “I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying if I was fearful. [But] the fears of many citizens are justifiable because the economy is not helping individuals.”

 

Meanwhile, Chipimo urged all Zambians to write “their own letters” to President Edgar Lungu demanding decisive action on the police-related death of a University of Zambia (UNZA) student Vespers Shimuzhila.

“We will deliver the letters to State House on your behalf. We should have no fear! I know so many of you are scared but this is your country, this is our country. If every student in Zambia was to write a letter expressing their concern about how the Vespers incident has been handled, this would send a very clear signal that Zambia wants accountability and is no longer ready to tolerate incompetency and complacency,” said Chipimo.