Jun 21, 2010

Righteous Indignation

If I’ve learned anything living in the U.S. it is righteous indignation. I have observed how Americans are not always willing to sit back and wait for government (local, state and federal) to take care of things especially in areas where a perceived or real injustice is happening. Case in point – the gulf oil spill; I’ve been following this quite closely and it’s fair to say the American people are outraged. This outrage has been directed all the way from BP to the President and in bowing to the pressure BP has set up a $20 billion compensation fund for the victims. And this is doesn’t even cover what they are expected to pay out in liability.

So, where am I going with this? Well, as I look inwards I have to ask myself and my fellow Zambians - where is our moral outrage? While we do not carry the burden of oil borne by the West Africans we do have copper, cobalt, fertile land, and other resources whose riches are out reach for most of us. We’ve heard the complaints from miners working to extract copper about unsafe conditions coupled with low wages, and what are we doing? Waiting for the government to step in and correct things?

Pardon me my scepticism but when was the last time our government and its leaders had the backbone to stand up to a multi-national corporation accused of wrong doing? Was it after 49 people were killed in Chambishi at the BGRIMM Explosives Plant? That would be NO. At last check the findings from the 2005 explosion were still nowhere to be seen, and once again we’re left scratching our heads making small whimpers that are drowned out by large earth moving vehicles extracting minerals from our land and taking the wealth elsewhere.   

I am not going to get into a philosophical discussion about the role of government that can wait another day but I will say this – to achieve any meaningful change we, as Zambians and Africans as a whole, have to take a more visible role in matters. The challenges are great but can be overcome one battle at a time. And, no, this is not a call for anarchy but for us to become active citizens.

So, instead of just importing the worst of American culture in the form of trashy reality shows and misogynistic music let us embrace the best they have to offer, righteous indignation channelled through activism.

Putting words into action:

I have finished drafting my letter to former Zambian finance minister and current Chilanga MP, Ng’andu Magande, asking about his plans (if any exist) to re-introduce the mining windfall tax through parliament. I touched on this in an earlier post.

I am also following the example set by Chola Mukanga (Zambian Economist blogger) in demanding that government release information about the valuation of our national telecom company, Zamtel, which was recently sold to the Libyan government for $257 million. See here and here for more information. 

2 comments:

"I have finished drafting my letter to former Zambian finance minister and current Chilanga MP, Ng’andu Magande, asking about his plans (if any exist) to re-introduce the mining windfall tax through parliament."

This is great!

The more we do this the better. I suspect many people want to write, but kind of feel despondent. At least thats what politicians are hoping!

I sent my letter via email to his parliament addy and the one available on his blog. And surprise, surprise the parliament email bounced. LOL. But at least one made it through, right.

Definitely going to follow up with Zampost.

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