May 26, 2011

Ingratitude?

In recent weeks there have been a number of articles published in the Zambian media (read here and here) about former freedom fighters bemoaning the government’s inattention to their plight. According to the reports many have died indigent and forgotten, and those still living want recognition and financial support. Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen stories such as this popping up and I’m not entirely sure what the response has been in the past especially on the financial support piece.

We have the obligatory celebrations on Africa Freedom Day (May 25) and Independence Day (October 24) and a handful of these freedom fighters have their names in text books and other reading materials. Do they have a legitimate case? What more needs to be done?

I remember a while back the current vice-president, George Kunda, stated that new claims for assistance or compensation would not be considered because they should have been made soon after the attainment of independence. That would include anyone maimed or injured during the uprisings or in prison. This quite obviously provoked a sharp response from various quarters but I really don’t think the government’s stance shifted because to be truthful, who will make them?

In a more just world we would support and create a system that includes subsidised access to quality medical care for these people to whom we owe so much. But with our reality that doesn’t exist and likely won’t for the foreseeable future.

Will we some day look back in shame or will we feel justified for our inaction because it saved us money?

May 24, 2011

Who will lead the IMF?

The ongoing discussion about who should take over IMF leadership is quite interesting. The Europeans are calling for one of their own, given their ongoing economic problems; this has been countered by others (of the non-European variety) who rightfully argue that during their own economic crises, over the last 40 or so years, there was no call for a special IMF head who understood the unique circumstances facing South America, Africa or Asia.

So, is time finally here for an IMF chief from so-called emerging and developing nations? Honestly, I don’t think so. I say this because the money staked is primarily from developed nations, and this corresponds with the voting power. It’s in their interests to have a commanding say in what goes on at the top – that will not be relinquished.

Tradition is not going to break now.

It would be nice for the International Credit Union to start reflecting the shifting global economic order that vastly differs from that of 1945 in the way that is run and how developing nations are treated. But who has the power to effect that change? 

May 16, 2011

Michael Sata: 'How to Be a Successful Opposition Leader'

Here is a video of Michael Sata (Zambia's leading opposition leader) speaking at The African Studies Centre at Oxford University earlier this month. In it he lays down part of his vision for Zambia. It’s rather long but worth watching if you’re interested in learning more about his platform. 


May 15, 2011

Whistleblowing or personal vendetta

These days when I read news stories about self proclaimed whistleblowers who were once part of the ruling elite spilling their proverbial guts, I just shake my head with incredulity and have to control a slow rage from consuming my being.

If these political pariahs were witness to wrongdoing during their time in office why the deafening silence at the time? Is our system really bereft of checks and balances that these “selfless” Zambians had no confidence in speaking up? And if that’s truly the case, what benefit is there to speaking up now?

I just don’t buy it! It’s just another act of buffoonery; a lame attempt to endear themselves to an opposition movement that largely consists of disgruntled party hacks looking to settle personal scores with their former allies. Give us a break, please!  

Perhaps I would take some of the allegations seriously if real evidence was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions office or even one of the newspapers for a detailed exposé when other avenues are closed, instead of the daily verbal volleys we’re being subjected to in the media. It’s classless and self-defeating.

Yes, there are aspects of our system that are ailing and need to be fixed. Why aren’t current and former insiders talking about this and actually doing it? We have a long way to go…

May 11, 2011

Moving Forward pt 2

Here is the clip of my interview with Mrs Engwase Mwale, NGOCC Executive Director, about the push for a new Zambian constitution. The relevant segment is the first hour. As you listen you’ll probably detect my enthusiasm...this resulted in me prematurely disconnecting myself at the half hour mark – it’s a good thing I don’t take myself too seriously and my guest was awesome! Oh, I managed to reconnect and carried on with the show. 


May 7, 2011

Facebook Outreach


A few weeks ago I took the advice of a fellow blogger and set up a Facebook account for this blog. This is something I’d previously considered doing but opted not to because I wasn’t sure if people would access it and if it would indeed be a complementary tool.

So, why have I reversed my earlier decision? It’s become quite evident that Facebook remains the primary medium for communicating with readers, particularly those based in Africa. A friend told me pointedly, "Bwalya, Zambians don't read blogs we Facebook!" (A generalisation, of course, but quite true!) So, this is a way to make material more accessible for everyone.  

I will use the page to upload blog posts and updates in “Notes” form, and also to engage with readers who have comments or questions. 

You can access the Facebook page from here by clicking on "Seize the Moment on Facebook" link in the right hand navigation bar under "Connect on Facebook." To all of those who've already "Liked" the page and are following, thank you, and please spread the word that Seize the Moment has indeed joined Facebook

May 6, 2011

Moving forward

This Saturday on Zambia Blog Talk Radio, I will be hosting the first segment of the show. I will be interviewing Mrs Engwase Mwale, Executive Director of NGOCC (Non-Governmental Organisations Co-ordinating Council). NGOCC is actively involved in projects and initiatives that champion gender equality and equity in Zambia. They “recognize the importance of the women's role in the social, cultural, political and economic development of the nation and are determined to uphold the women's human rights and to ensure their empowerment.”
Most recently they’ve been very vocal in their opposition to the National Constitution Conference (NCC) and the failed constitution bill that came out of it. With the recent defeat of the Constitution Bill in Parliament, NGOCC has renewed its call for a new constitution that will respond to the needs of the remotest and marginalised communities.
I will be talking to Mrs Mwale about what needs to be done to move forward. What is the role of Zambians in this process? Is it realistic to believe that momentum can be built this year in the midst of the national elections and seeming disinterest from national leaders?
Tune in if you can, and remember to send me any comments or questions you’d like to have addressed. I will also post the audio file later this weekend.


The show will air live, May 7 at 6 a.m PST, 9 a.m. EST, 1400 hrs GMT, 1500 hrs CAT.
You can interact with me on Twitter (@missbwalya), and Facebook (Seize the Moment)

May 3, 2011

Cut out the rot!

The thing I admire most about the Arab spring awakening is that the young men and women at the forefront of the demonstrations have realised one critical thing – there is an enemy within. They’re not chanting anti-European or anti-American sentiment as being the sole cause of the malaise, they are asking questions of their own ‘leaders’ and demanding change.

There is no denying the harm done by colonialism in many African nations or the fact that many countries were saddled with enormous debts at the dawn of independence that hindered early progress but for crying out loud how long are we going to use this as a crutch? We’re for the most part at 50 years into self-rule, opportunities have been squandered left and right, and others have been capitalised, but is it too much to ask for our own governments to be answerable for the rot that continues to plague?

Go ahead and denounce the government-to-government aid that fosters dependency and allows our representatives to become complacent in their duties. But don’t forget to look at the enemy within us that breeds laziness – intellectual and physical. How many of us with our expensive education and skills are still unable to think creatively about helping in the development efforts? We would rather collect used shoes and clothes from our church friends and co-workers to send “to those needy children” without looking at ways in which to aggressively tackle the reasons why those children are needy in the first place.

Stop focusing solely on neo-colonialism while tribalism festers like infected wound within you. And above all don’t ever forget that you as an individual have a vested interest in the matters affecting your country like no one else. If you can’t do this then step aside and continue to lick your wounds, while serious people get the job done.