Michael Sata’s Government of “Katwishi”
E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.
The nights and days are very cold this month of June. But in spite of this, the leaders of this country did not spare our people in Mindolo another brunt exercise of power. The people of Mindolo woke up, one night, to a colossal noise of bulldozers and graders tearing through the walls of what had made their homes. There was no mercy. There was no pity. And the misery was ruthless. It does seem, as expected, that the government cared less about the plight of our now homeless citizens. These citizens now have nowhere to lay their heads and no place to acquire the comfort of a warm roof. Days after this unfortunate incident, the ruling Patriotic Front, through its Copperbelt leadership, expressed comprehensive ignorance about what happened to the over 300 families of Mindolo. They claim “ta twaishibe” until the minute bulldozers were on the ground grinding down the brittle hedges around fragile homes of our people. We would be more concerned if this were an isolated incident. But unfortunately, denial has become the order of the day in both the ruling party and the government it is claiming to lead. From police brutality to the economy, President Sata’s government has most surely become a government of “katwishi”. Ask them any important question, and their answer comes from a choice of synonyms whose meaning is repugnant to human politesse: don’t kubeba, katwishi and nshishibe.
A few months ago, President Sata’s minister of agriculture had no idea that since his party came into power the price of ubunga had gone up by almost 100%. Typical of a reckless administration, the response from the honorable minister was that of total surprise and unsurprising surly indifference. He had no idea that the cost of ubunga is beyond the reach of many Zambians. One then wonders how this group of so called cabinet claim to be running a nation when they are not in touch with basic realities of how much Zambians are paying for staple food. I would be curious to find out what the minister cooks in his house, since he has no idea how much a bag of roller meal costs. May be he has an incessant supply of chicken and chips beautifully delivered at taxpayers expense. As if that was not enough, when the same gentleman visited cotton growers, he again expressed total surprise at the plight of cotton growers. He claimed “nshishibe”, “nshaishibe” or stuff related to that. Zambia must demand that leaders desist from this katwishi culture.
The leadership of “katwishi” has led us and is leading us into serious economic doldrums. The essence of katwishi finds itself manifested in a government, which has no idea, of how much money the mining sector generates each year. For example, the honorable minister of finance has no inkling of how much money KCM, First Quantum or Mopani make each year. With this obliviousness, the PF government cannot effectively assist the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to tax these companies. When citizens like Pamela Chisanga take up these issues and demand that Mopani pays, the government not infrequently pleads the “katwishi” doctrine. They claim to not know. Sadly, it seems, we have entrusted government to a bunch of persons who are so reckless as to fail to account for the income generated by our supreme natural resources. We need a cure from this “katwishi” syndrome.
Failing to effectively tax the mining conglomerates, cabinet secretary has this week, nevertheless, found an easy way out of this predicament by asking for “nchekelako” from all public universities and colleges. These colleges will now have to remit 60% of their school fee earnings to the ministry of finance. When it comes to mines, the PF gives a katwishi answer, but when it comes to helpless public colleges, it abruptly arouses to suck the littlest blood trickling from the veins of broke public colleges. Zambians should be unanimous to demand better planning from the PF government.
Another manifestation of katwishi concerns the soon-to-be established government airline. Honourable Yamfwa Mukanga has been quite consistent on this one. He claims that the PF government will not rest until a new government-run airline is established. He has since proclaimed that it will be launched on June 30th2014. Our government has run an airline before. It was called Zambia Airways (QZ). The reason why this airline went into liquidation was that it was a loss-making venture. It had become a personal carrier for Kenneth Kaunda and his UNIP benefactors. Without reasonable profits, Zambia Airways started to extricate taxpayers’ money to keep it in the air. In spite of this overwhelming evidence with regard to the failure of QZ, Mukanga in 2014 wants to add another expense for the taxpayers. I wonder what we shall call this airline. May be Katwishi Airline would be an appropriate name to memorialize President Sata’s popular reference of his cabinet as “useless”. The Zambian treasury is broke. Our kwacha is losing value. We basically have no money in the treasury. The government of katwishi has now mercilessly squandered the little dollars Dr. Rupiah Banda and Bo Situmbeko Musokotwane had left in the Zambian coffers. If we are to follow up on how Sata spent Rupiah Banda’s billions, we would get a hazy answer: katwishi. Since we are broke as a country, it does not make sense that we should be spending billions we do not have to buy planes for a loss-making venture.
Besides, the last time Hon. Mukanga was called upon to appoint a genuine board for a parastatal company, he appointed PF cadres to Zambia Railways. We have been there before. There is no assurance that Mukanga will handle this airline any differently from the way he has mishandled Zambia Railways. He will go on to appoint unqualified PF cadres to run Katwishi Airways and further squeeze the taxpayers. Nothing demonstrates economic folly than going back to the very practices and policies responsible for burying us in the sand of economic stagnation.
Isn’t it ridiculous that when Ms. Mutale Nalumango visited Isoka, and the police abused their power by hounding her out of there, the answer from the police command was “katwishi”? They claimed total ignorance of this abuse of power. Similarly, Nevers Mumba goes to Eastern Province, and the first thing the police do is conceitedly escort him out of Nyimba. When challenged to stop this thoughtless abuse of power, the police command pleaded total ignorance. They said “katwishi.”
Our country can do better. But in order to do so, we might need to deal with the katwishi syndrome. We can challenge this attitude now, and if that fails, we have a good shot at stopping it once and for all in 2016. The katwishi PF-government could think that they are getting away with this for now. But very soon, the Zambian people will show them who is boss. And when that day comes, the Zambian people will be decisive and flawless in rebuffing “katwishi” and all of its pretentious cousins.