Why HH Wont Manage To ‘Fix’ Zambia…there Is A Big Mindset Problem To Deal With First

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WITH just about 7 days to go before Zambia inaugurates its 7th President—Hakainde Hichilema, many Zambians are very hopeful that the self-made billionaire is finally going to be the man who will turn around Zambia’s fortunes.

Many countrymen and women believe that the hunger and poverty situation will improve once a new president Hichilema settles down. Some UNZA lecturers and other staff members are convinced that their salaries will no longer be delayed once HH is in power. Those in business are busy consoling each other that once a new government is elected, the gloomy business environment in Zambia will suddenly improve. ‘The Kwacha will appreciate to something like K10 per US Dollar once just 4 hours after he is sworn in’, I heard one businessman tell his colleagues while having a meal at Food Palace along Lusaka’s Cairo road.
Do you also hold that school of thought?

Unfortunately, I am one of the few Zambians who is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that even with the coming of Hichilema in the corridors of authority, our country will remain the same.

You see, the biggest problem of Zambians or Africans in general is this illusionary belief that they could change their countries by voting a different person into power. It is this belief that all problems of a country start and stop with the President. That if you could just have the right man in power, then all of a sudden, Zambia would transform. This is what they call chasing a mirage, imagining some utopia. Unfortunately utopias are never realized in life.

The actual problem of Africa is not the presidents. From where do these presidents come? Where did Edgar Lungu come from? Was it not from among us in Chawama? The problem of Africa, the problem of Zambia is its citizens, their shared values and mentalities.

The day Zambians wakeup and stop looking for an external enemy and realize that they themselves are Zambia’s problem is the day we shall get closer to finding an African solution.

I have often told friends that I am happiest whenever the MPs draw bigger sitting allowances of something like K2,000 every day. As Zambians, we lambast our representatives in public for drawing these salaries. In private, we drain our MPs. We invite them for funerals, for introduction ceremonies, church services and expect them to contribute out of pocket to save us. My former area MP Maria Langa [Chilanga Constituency] once told me that she attends no less than 10 functions in a week on average. She was also expected to find jobs for our people in Chilanga. She buys coffins too!

They must contribute towards the least of needs. These big salaries they draw, they all go straight to the people they represent. Yet it seems some of us live in an illusion called Zambia. We expect our MPs to act as MPs in UK except that in our case, we also expect them to play donor to their people’s needs.

We decry the corruption in the country yet we bribe to get our children in the best schools. We bribe ZESCO to connect us to national grid. Actually, I did that just last week. We bribe our way out of traffic police charge sheets. We have no respect for traffic rules. We are every evil we see in President Lungu, Bowman Lusambo, Kaizer Zulu and the entire PF team. Every ill you can diagnose in President Lungu and his Government, you will find twice or thrice the magnitude in a Zambian citizen. We Zambians are really evil beings!

We complain of government incompetence, yet go ahead to champion incompetence in every aspect of our lives where government has no control. Our carpenters produce substandard furniture. Our bricklayers who prefer to be called contractors are extremely pathetic.

I often ask myself; if the public sector is too incompetent, how come the private sector has not been any better? How come you are more bound to have a misdiagnosis in a private hospital than in a public hospital?

News Diggers, New Vision and The Mast all write stories everyday that highlight government incompetence. Yet, there will never be a single day where you will pick up a Zambian newspaper and fail to find an error on every page. Perhaps one day as Zambians we ought to self-reflect, and look within and realize, that we are demons we are trying to fight. If outgoing President Lungu and his government were the only incompetent people and everyone else was competent, then Zambia would be a Scandinavian country of sorts.

Why don’t we have world class restaurants in the country? Why is it that customer care sucks in private institutions just as it does in public institutions?

Every Zambian I meet complains of the system, of the incompetence. Then I ask myself; “you dear Zambian, where can I find examples of your excellent output?”

The same people who complain of poor working conditions run slavery rings in their own homes. The day maids and garden boys of this country decide to speak out, we shall be shocked at the evil we sustained in our homes.

I now suspect that our anger, our rants, our complaints, our insults on Facebook about the system are all because this system is a daily reminder of our own incompetences, our own weaknesses as a people. What this PF government has done is hold a mirror up to the Zambian society and we are not happy about our own reflection.

There is something deeply wrong around how the Zambian and African societies are constructed. Zambian citizens promise so much and deliver so little. Our shared beliefs, mindsets and values have been constructed in such a way that regardless of the president in power, we shall always produce substandard results.

It is no wonder that all over Africa, we complain of the same problems. Littered cities, corruption, failed government institutions, name it all. You could fly from Uganda to Malawi to Ghana to Senegal and not notice a difference. Because? It is not a problem of presidents. It is a problem of the African citizens. But they are too scared of self-criticism, they have dabbled in escapism and found scapegoats in their leaders.

As Plato wrote in the Republic; “like man, like state.” We can’t expect to have better leaders until we have better people. You can’t create great companies without great employees. It doesn’t matter how great the CEO is, if she has crap employees, she will have a crap company. That is the case of Zambia and other African countries!

So, please stop condemning President Lungu. If we were to replace President Lungu with you, you would actually be worse than him.
Is Hakainde Hichilema the savior we need? Brothers and sisters, story izibaka kudala. President Hichilema or just about any Zambian politician can never better the lives of Zambians. Actually, because we are expecting too much from Mr Hichilema, we will be massively disappointed with him within the next 2 years. The insults that await President Hichilema – awe mwandi! Not even the cyber bullying law will protect him.

You see, the only way Zambia can become a better country is if the human being reading this write up changes his/her ways. Fellow Zambian, please change your ways!

[Additional notes by Wamulume Laurence Beele]

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