By Jeff Mbewe
One of the most common trait of bad leaders and tin pot dictators is their disposition to recruit in inner circles a horde of individuals with intellectual bankruptcy so much that they may not at any time be able to stand up against their leader, should he violate common good.
President Edgar Lungu, despite having his own strengths, has in so many times proved to be such a bad leader.
Since the demise of his predecessor Michael Chilufya Sata, President Lungu has carefully constituted into his inner circle a horde of individuals who have no guts in them to stand up to anything but are the type that will not hesitate to shout yes bwana to anything, good or bad.
It is thus understandable that there seem to be a continuous series of bad decisions from all angles of government when policy ensues.
Just last week, we were in the backlash of the illegal deportation of Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Tendai Biti, against both domestic and international law.
This week, we are in this circus of 30ngwee tax charged on internet calls. This further proves that President Lungu has within his team of advisors elements whose intellect is insolvent.
On one end, Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba claimed that the introduction of the said infamous tax will create jobs while his counterpart Minister of Information and Chief government Spokesperson Dora Siliya claimed that tax will save jobs.
The dichotomy of reasons given by both Mushimba and Siliya for the introduction of 30ngwee tax proves more that there is no meaningful feasibility study backed by research and stats to prove either side.
Probably, when cabinet sat to decide on such a bad tax law, there was no consensus on its benefit to the people – perhaps, there may have been consensus only on the benefit to the government; more tax on people means more disposable income for those in power.
It is even laughable to hear that Siliya says over 80 per cent of mobile users in Zambia use WhatsApp, Facebook and Viber to make calls. It is very easy to tell that these pronouncements have nothing to do with either creating or saving jobs in the telecommunication industry.
I must state that even if this were the case, government has never show any interests to protect jobs in telecommunication industry going by the exploitations that workers of Airtel and MTN as well as state owned Zamtel are subjected to.
So why now, and why through slapping another tax on citizens?
To crack Siliya’s soporific stats let’s consider this; according to Zambia Information and Communication Authority (ZICTA), there are 13,438,539+ subscribers currently of which 80 per cent of them would constitute 10,750,831+.
Assuming these are everyday subscribing to internet and government is deducting a proposed 30ngwee tax from them for the next 365 days in a year, there would be a revenue generation of K1,177,166,741.40 billion+ ($107 million+).
According to President Lungu’s government, the introduction of the said tax will see a revenue generation of $22 million annually – but then, against what facts?
The matter of contention here is less on the bad tax aimed at stifling individual rights and following the footsteps of the Uganda dictator Yoweri Museveni by President Lungu, but more of the fact that we are yet to see more such bad policy because the majority of those in the inner circles of the Head of State are functional illiterates.
What is more painful now is that we seem stuck with such a bad leadership in government because there is less opposition influence threatening and likely to oust the governing Patriotic Front in the next election.
However, the only hope for Zambians now seem to be in the hands of the level headed in PF, who can possibly mount a fierce challenge to oust President Lungu and his bunch of functional illiterates, the bootlickers, especially that the PF is set to go for a convention soonest.
I must point out here that, it was by design that Edgar Lungu opted to pick for a Justice Minister Given Lubinda whose academic background has no trace of any legal knowledge but agricultural.
PF is not short of legal brains. Edgar Lungu seems not to want those who will stand up and tell him the truth and say no to this because they are bad. One of such individual in PF has been Kelvin Bwalya Fube (KBF) – on several occasions, he has stood up against what is wrong such as the continued stay into structures by the party leadership against the party constitution.
Equally, KBF has given an interpretation of the eligibility of President Lungu to contest the 2021 elections that the constitution of Zambia doesn’t allow him having held office twice. Had it been that there was a minister of justice such as KBF in government, I doubt we would even be in the international news for rapping our own domestic and international laws over the deportation of Biti.
I thus cannot help but associate all previous, current and future poor government policies to the type of the people surrounding President Lungu –yes bwanas types!
Ultimately, there is need for quick realization within PF that they need to wake up to the fact that the party is bigger than one individual who is on the blink of exit should our judiciary stand with law.
Author is student of Law with interest in International Law, Constitutionalism and Politics