By Henry Kyambalesa
The last 10 years can be summed up plainly as having been disastrous for our be-loved country and its people. The Patriotic Front (PF) assumed the reins of power in September 2011. To date, the ruling political party’s performance has not only been mediocre but shameful and inexcusable.
According to the World Bank, our country ranks among the countries with high-est levels of poverty and inequality globally. And, as Habitat for Humanity has observed, over 60% of our country’s population lives in abject poverty below the poverty threshold or poverty line of approximately US$2 per person per day.
Our country’s economic performance or Gross Domestic Product, as reported by the government-operated local Central Statistical Office, has lamentably been de-clining from positive 4.7% in 2018 to negative 2.7% in January 2021.
The PF administration’s externally secured debts, as recorded by the Bank of Zambia, has considerably increased in less than 10 years from US$ 1.7 billion in 2011 to US$ 15 billion in 2020.
And the corruption ranking for our country by Transparency International has consistently and regrettably been worsening from 76th in 2015 to 87th in 2016, to 96th in 2017, to 105th in 2018, to 113th in 2019, and to 117th in 2020.
Besides, there are numerous other ways and spheres in which the PF administra-tion has lamentably failed to deliver. For example, a critical shortage of decent public housing has continued to compel so many of our fellow citizens to live in shanty townships nationwide; so many of our fellow citizens still have no access to electricity and clean water; education and training are still not adequately ca-tered for; and the healthcare system is still incapable of meeting the basic needs of the majority of citizens mainly due to rampant inadequacy of medicines, healthcare facilities and skilled healthcare personnel.
Moreover, public infrastructure and services are still deficient, and are mainly de-pendent on donor-funding; civil servants are still not adequately compensated for their services, and a lot of civil service retirees cannot get their hard-earned bene-fits on time; and, among many other socioeconomic ills, crime and unemployment are still pervasive.
The socioeconomic ills I have just cited affect us all as members of the Zambian family, irrespective of the political parties and political candidates we support, and irrespective of our tribal identities or the districts or provinces we come from.
Clearly, therefore, there is nothing meaningful which the PF will do to address the catalogue of unprecedented and unfulfilled socioeconomic problems facing our country and its people over the next 5 years which they have failed to address over the past 10 consecutive years the party has been in power.
Needless to say, we have had a government whose inclination and preoccupation has been to spend public resources serving itself instead of serving the people, and a government whose officials have had a tendency to measure their performance in terms of how many chieftains and citizens they have had the desire to corruptly extract votes from through gifts and donations of bicycles, cash, mealie meal, and automobiles.
On August 12, it will not only be irresponsible but unpatriotic for us to reward the Patriotic Front with 5 more years when it has clearly and lamentably failed to de-liver over a period of 10 uninterrupted years it has been in power.
In this regard, I wish to ask all those who teach our children, those who take care of the sick, those who extract and process copper and other minerals, those who provide transport services, those who create goods and services in the private sec-tor, those who sell products in retail outlets and at open markets, those who work in the civil service, those who serve orphaned and vulnerable children, as well as those who are currently unemployed to send a unified message to PF leaders that our beloved country will not afford to keep them in power due to their failure to address the basic needs and expectations of the common people.
I define the term “common people” to include PF members and all other members of the Zambian family across our country’s 10 provinces who have directly or oth-erwise endured the adverse effects of government ineptitude over the last 10 years the ruling political party has wielded the instruments of power.