OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE NAREP "GET INVOLVED NOW" HANDBOOK AT THE NAREP NATIONAL SECRETARIAT THURSDAY 15 AUGUST 2013
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE NAREP "GET INVOLVED NOW" HANDBOOK AT THE NAREP NATIONAL SECRETARIAT
THURSDAY 15 AUGUST 2013
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the official launch of the NAREP "Get Involved Now!" Handbook.
Before I share the vision behind this initiative, let me say a few words about the state of our nation today and the reason why this project is more relevant now than ever before.
Few can dispute the fact that we lack caring leadership in Zambia. Although they are successfully demonstrating the worst form of it, this is not a problem that began with the PF administration. We have been let down over the years by politicians who have shown that they care more for themselves and their parties than they do about the country and its citizens. We have allowed our so-called leaders to promote violence and intimidation against unarmed and unprotected civilians whose only crime was stand up for what they believe in against the dictates of those who happen to hold the reigns of power.
Socially, politically and increasingly economically, Zambia is in a mess:
- Unemployment is still the greatest threat to the future of our youth and there is still no plan in place to deal with this problem
- Our women are routinely abused and marginalised with ever increasing cases of gender-based violence dominating our social interactions
- Traditional leaders are being insulted while their succession rites and procedures are tampered with
- Laws affecting both local and foreign investment are changed with little stakeholder consultation creating uncertainty and resulting job losses
- Zambians are treated as foreigners in their own land and often treated with brutality while law enforcement officials turn their heads away
- Opposition leaders and their supporters are denied the right to move about and assemble as free citizens
- Learning institutions around the country are facing serious problems with limited funding and poor reinvestment while our leaders champion by-elections through the poaching of opposition members of parliament.
In the midst of all this, we are greeted with stony silence from our leadership, save for the scrappy announcements that accompany the time when some poor government official is being hired or fired.
In fact, it is fair to ask the question: "do we actually have a president"? We ask this because a nation that has a leader whose favourite activity is playing hide and seek with his own people is as good as a nation with no president at all. Some argue that demanding our senior-most leader to answer questions from independent-minded journalists is asking too much. They seem to think that it is abnormal for a president to hold a proper press conference. They actually think it is normal to have major policy positions announced through a press secretary.
If any of you are in any doubt as to why such a rich country as ours has so many that are poor, neglected, unemployed and exploited; you need look no further than our current leadership. A country rises and falls, develops or declines, progresses or stagnates on the strength and quality of its leadership. Quality leadership is the key to development.
But where does such leadership begin to be nurtured? It begins in our homes and in our communities. It is forged in the foundry of our education system and extends to our workplaces and our businesses. It is reinforced by the values displayed by our traditional authorities and the leaders in the church. Importantly, it is given its ultimate expression in the leadership that is tasked to govern and guide and the nation.
The old saying, a country gets the leaders it deserves, is as true today as it has always been. It is a saying that demands each and every one of us to take responsibility for the state of the nation we find ourselves living in today. We can do this by creating the building blocks of our future in our own homes and in the communities in which we can have a positive influence.
We are each our own leaders. We all have a duty to be responsible citizens and to respect the unique person that God created each and everyone of us to be. But rather than recognising this responsibility, we have handed over our future to people that care more about themselves and their families than they do about delivering development to the neglected communities in every part of our country; communities that they were elected to serve.
There can be no doubt that we have allowed mediocre leadership to flourish in Zambia. We have done this for so long, it has distorted our reality to the point where the abnormal is now fully accepted as normal. We have confused being popular with being concerned. We have glorified insulting language and mistaken catchy slogans for vision and planning. We have abandoned God's wisdom and embraced petty, shallow criticism of one another proudly passing this on as a new form of knowledge and intelligence.
We will not progress as a nation if we continue to devour each other; if we shun others because of their tribe or ancestry; or indeed if we treat others badly because of their gender, their age or their different point of view.
We can and must demand quality leadership for our nation. This must start with demanding better quality leadership of ourselves, at every level of human interaction, not only in our politics but especially in our politics. People say politics is a dirty game; we say it is people who tend to be dirty that bring their dirt into our politics. And this is why we are launching the NAREP 'Get Involved Now' Handbook. We want to promote the leadership in communities across the country that will help us to build more tolerant, responsible and caring societies. Leadership that will restore an era of political activism that puts the development of people at its centre.
We cannot place our trust in an administration that has proved itself fully incapable of respecting laws and the rights of those who oppose it; an administration that seems to believe that turning a blind eye to violence that is carried out in its name and leading the country to the brink of disorder and chaos and eventually a one-party political state will be justified by the number of roads they build.
We shall always oppose the PF in their quest for political dominance at the expense of freedom and sustainable and inclusive development. But while we oppose them, we will not be like them: we will not insult back or bare our teeth in anger. No, we shall take the higher road - the road less travelled - and do the work that the communities demand of us as people aspiring to lead them. This NAREP Handbook explains why and how and we look forward, over the next few months, to going round the country and explaining its importance to every single Zambian. We ask for your help and support as we do this. The Handbook will be available in as many local languages as possible so that it speaks to all communities at all times.
Join me now in celebrating the official launch of the NAREP Get Involved Now Handbook.
I thank you all and may God's grace be with you.
Elias C. Chipimo
National Restoration Party