Editor's Comment

Guard against fact twisters


CRITICISM is healthy for any community or society, but that is only if such thoughts are in sync with the overall expectations and desires of people who genuinely love others.
Given Zambia’s abundance of freedom of expression, criticism comes in droves on virtually every matter and from all kinds of people. These range from diplomats, politicians and experts in various fields to small-scale traders, students and call-boys.
All these have views on various issues and all of them can and do offer – at times – useful criticism. Some go beyond pointing out what they contend is amiss by offering possible solutions. This is what helps keep those in authority in check and in line with expectations of the people.
Unfortunately, among these critics there are those who have made it their job to condemn just about everything that Government does. Oddly, they even disagree with their own ideas, merely because Government is implementing the plans.
A case in point is on some of the proposed amendments of the Constitution. These critics on one hand, for instance, condemn the form in which the Public Order Act is, and on the other refuse to submit recommendations on how to improve it.
This misconduct – for that is what it is – would ordinarily be considered strange, but given what has been said on various matters over recent years, it is no longer surprising that Zambia has a clique of citizens who have taken it upon themselves to ignore reality, logic and even common sense to try and paint the political leadership as black as they possibly can.
It is not strange, therefore, that not too long ago they were criticising President Edgar Lungu for not being on the ground to see for himself what is happening, and not happening, in Zambia’s many districts.
Now that he is regularly visiting the districts, they still are unhappy and condemn the visits.
Similarly, it is not strange that on the one hand they say Zambia should work harder towards enticing foreign direct investments. On the other hand, when the President meets with potential investors, and actually secures deals for the country, they still have something negative to say.
Ordinarily, one would want to ignore such good-for-nothing critics, but some of them require constant reminders, just in case their criticism is out of genuine ignorance. We believe that some of them are fully aware of the benefits of, for instance, the President’s international trips, but will still try to find something negative to say.
It would have been a great disservice to Zambia, for instance, if President Lungu chose to delegate his attendance at the seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit, which started yesterday in Japan.
TICAD is designed to strengthen economic relations between Africa and Japan.
Who, if not the President himself, should spearhead this goal of maximising the benefits of this economic partnership with a country as advanced as Japan?
Aside from the main deliberations by presidents, heads of state and government representatives, there are a number of side events slated for countries to engage in bilateral talks with the host nation and among themselves.
The government of Japan leads the conference with co-hosts such as the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and African Union Commission (AUC).
It has opportunities for training, infrastructure and economic partnerships.
Therefore, it is imperative that Zambia is represented at the highest level. President Lungu is best suited to champion the country’s interests during TICAD.
The presence of the head of state demonstrates the importance Zambia attaches to TICAD.
The President is likely to attract more attention from Japanese business houses and civil society than any other person Zambia would have assigned.
President Lungu will, apart from meeting high-ranking Japanese government officials, also engage representatives of the UNDP, World Bank and the AUC, among others.
This means that he will have met more high-profile individuals and organisations in one place.
Zambia is in a hurry to develop and it cannot leave such an opportunity to chance.
This development which citizens need cannot come overnight. While the Government is developing the country through the various infrastructure projects, it needs the help of partners. TICAD is one such platform on which the country can market itself to Japan and other investors looking for destinations where to take their money.
Investors need to hear assurances from senior government officials about some guarantees about the safety of their investments and the tax incentives available in Zambia.
The President’s trips therefore outweigh the cost of travelling to Japan because the benefits that will accrue to the country will be felt many generations to come.
That is why former President Rupiah Banda says it is inevitable for President Lungu to undertake trips to countries such as Japan and continue cultivating stronger ties for the benefit of everyone.
Mr Banda cited his trip to Turkey when he was demonised and was called ‘an extravagant President who flies to Turkey, an underdeveloped country’.
Today, Zambia has some Turkish investments employing Zambians.
Mr Banda says as a statesman, he had a duty to tell the nation the truth about the importance of both bilateral and multilateral engagements at presidential level.
Clearly, some people who criticise Government and the President have an agenda that is not for the good of Zambia. They are bent on twisting facts to suit their agenda.
As twisters of facts, they are like hurricanes – very visible, very loud and very destructive.

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