Jan 17, 2011

A clean break with the past

 Photo credit: Ernst Schade
"Tunisia has formed a national unity government, the country's prime minister has announced, days after a popular revolt ousted the president.
The prime minister, foreign, interior and defence ministers are to retain their jobs, with several opposition figures joining the government.
PM Mohammed Ghannouchi pledged to allow greater political and media freedoms.”                                                                                                                                                                
 Source: BBC Online

The above announcement was met with outrage from the Tunisian protestors who can be credited with the recent ouster of President Ben Ali. Their argument is sound – how can the country move forward with much of the old guard still in charge?

This is the dilemma, isn’t it? If a cabinet was unable to enact meaningful reform under the previous president, why should they be trusted to do the same now that their leader gone? What has changed so significantly that they suddenly realise their job is to serve the people of the country?

There is obvious peril in suddenly changing the guard without planning because of the risk of power vacuums in which political opportunists seize power and lead with their own personal agenda. Caution is obviously needed to ensure rational and sound decisions are made, but this is difficult coming right on the heels of decades of oppression. I understand and empathise with the passion driving these people who have been forced to sit on the sidelines their country’s good fortunes are enjoyed by a minority group of citizens. I hope sound judgement guides them.

I have had similar misgivings about Zambia’s own leadership. Just look at the plethora of ministers and heads of parastatals that have been around since time immemorial. If they have been unable to make meaningful progress since the dawn of independence and of multi-party democracy, why are they still in office drawing pay cheques and lying to the public? 

There are even those who for one reason or another are masquerading as opposition leaders but have indeed been insiders at some point, and are now pontificating about how he/she is the best answer to Zambia’s problems…pardon me while I vomit in my trash can…

This gets me back to my usual refrain – we as the electorate should stop swallowing everything we’re told hook, line, and sinker from the political candidates we individually support. Ask the difficult questions. How is Candidate X going to make changes in Zambia, where will the money come from, and how will it impact the everyday man, woman and child? 

Even further, when Candidate X was part of the current or former government why was he/she unable to push certain measures and policies? Was it personal incompetence or were they too caught up in the party euphoria that chanting slogans and dancing at the airport became primary job duties.

Answers, please.


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