Analysis: ROBBIE MUSAKUZI
THE continued damage and burning of public infrastructure such as Zesco pylons, transformers, markets and other installations across the country should not
take anyone by surprise looking at how the Zambian society has evolved since the January 20, 2015 presidential election.
What should surprise many is the speed and scale of how quickly disgruntled elements have since then transformed into criminals.
The wise say, ‘The chickens (cadres) have finally come to roost.’ It was rather naïve to think that all those opposition parties simply accepted the results of the August 11, 2016 elections and went back to their daily chores.
Reports of wanton damage to public infrastructure and installations is not new in Zambia, it is the scale and inability of our nation to decisively respond to such occurrences that is worrying.
What we have not learnt as a nation over the years is how to analyse and reduce the causal factors of such behaviour and comprehensively invest in the prevention and reduction of such incidences.
The continued occurrence of these cases is not by chance or accident. These are well-planned criminal activities calculated to inflict maximum impact and suffering on the majority of innocent Zambian people.
Setting ablaze of a public market with people’s livelihoods and investment or plunging a whole community into darkness by deliberately damaging Zesco installations [pylons and transformers], with an intention to draw the nation’s attention to selfish political grievance is not Zambian and that is why some people are suspecting that some foreign criminals might be involved.
Zambia, just like in many other countries around the world, now needs to know and accept that in our institutions, places of work, churches, communities, society and the nation at large there are selfish, heartless and greedy people who are ready to do anything to stubbornly achieve what they want, even if it is against the will of the majority.
Zambia, like every other country in the world, should learn how to quickly deal with such people by making decisive actions.
As a nation, posterity and sustainable development will therefore depend on the government’s decisions and actions that will make the Zambian people, public infrastructure and installations less vulnerable or more resilient to the disasters being created by such people, whether local or foreign.
In countries like France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is one concept and practice that is being used to reduce the risks, threats, hate and marginalisation in places of work, churches and communities through systematic analyses and reduction of the causal factors.
At the centre of DRR are committees at markets, bus stations, education institutions, banks and other sensitive institutions which in Zambia should include Zesco, Zamtel and water utility companies.
The aim of DRR committees is to reduce the risks, threats, hate and marginalisation of others from within these institutions. Within DRR are disciplines like institutional security management, disaster management, disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness.
DRR encompasses all these disciplines because it is inclusive and also part of sustainable development.
It is DRR committees which have been able to identify sensitive areas and recommend the installation of CCTV cameras and systems. CCTV is a readily available technology and in developed countries, it is now law to have it in the streets, highways and every public infrastructure and installation.
It has helped to prevent catastrophic terrorist disasters and helped to apprehend perpetrators of such events.
This is the sustainable development direction that Zambia must now adopt but it can only happen when some people in Government departments, places of work, churches and communities and learn to listen to advice and realise they are not the only source of solutions to all the problems facing our people.
Lessening marginalisation in the Zambian society and vulnerability of people and public infrastructure and installations to the actions of some heartless people requires the efforts of all citizens. There is no doubt in the mind of every citizen that it is a very small group of people who are involved in all these criminal and terror-related activities and therefore more inclusiveness and resources should be spent in the reduction of such incidences.
This small group of people are merely taking advantage of the marginalisation in society and vulnerability of the public infrastructure and installations.
It must be emphasised that each economic, political and social decision and action Government takes will always make the country either more vulnerable or more resilient.
It is therefore important for the Government to realise that there will be some people who, in spite of the development strides and efforts to unite the country, will always be critical of the peace and massive investment in public infrastructure and installations.
After all it is on record that some were against this development agenda when it started way back in 2011 and said it was not possible and sustainable.
May God give hope and encouragement to all those that have lost livelihoods and investment from these cowardly acts of sabotage.
The author is an international associate at African Centre for Disaster Studies.