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Hoping for the best but fearing the worst

Sandy Grant
If you happen to live in a small village in one of the remoter constituencies, it is almost certain that your standpoint is bound to be very different from mine.

There you would be almost entirely cut off from the world because the radio that you were so generously given by the government died some time ago when the batteries gave up the ghost. With no cash to buy replacements, the radio has now become a plaything for the younger children.

As a result you may believe that all is well. In Oodi, however, where I happen to live, we are positively deluged with news reports – from television, radio channels and the multitude of commercial newspapers. And what we are hearing, seeing and reading beggars belief.

On BTV we are routinely treated to the unedifying sight of politicians, microphone in hand, ranting at their audiences. Is there something about politics which convinces politicians that they will only be heard if they shout as loudly as they are able and that unless they do so, their audience will be incapable of understanding a word that they say? Are they unaware that the microphone they have in hand is there to do the shouting for them? In the National Assembly, shouting is regarded as unacceptable – so why not use the election process to practice speaking in a normal voice to an audience which is expected to understand what is being said?

We knew that this election was going to be rough and nasty, and it already is. With two weeks still to go, the outlook is disconcerting in the extreme. We seem to be caught up in a mad frenzy which is destroying much of what was painfully achieved during the previous forty plus years. 

Each day brings something new, something unattractive or even ugly not least, I believe, because, we have lost a sense of shame.  We have had the photos reproduced in the press of the BDP’s leadership relaxing on board a BDF plane taking them to Gantsi for an election meeting. Horror.

The BDF being obliged to provide a politically partisan service! Quite so. But no one seems to have wondered if this was a one off which happened to have been exposed or if the BDF has been obliged to perform this service on many occasions and even in past elections?

Who would have known? And then there has been the new university in Palaype where our senior leaders have turned

on each other in an orgy of ripping and rending which has probably brought the university to its knees. Within the week, the Chairman of the Council is fired, the Vice Chancellor resigns and numbers of his highly regarded expatriate staff are hounded by immigration officials and are also likely to resign. Are we really expected to believe that the personal vendettas which appear to be destroying the university have anything to do with the country, and its needs?

The shock waves are likely to reverberate around the international academic community and the good name of this country will be severely soiled. But do we care?

Does it matter so long as one individual adequately bashes another and one faction contrives to wreck the other? The usual routine with such scenarios is that the replacement leadership makes it a priority to reverse as much as possible of what has been put in place by its predecessor so that much time is needed for even a small project to recover equilibrium. 

In the case of the university in Palapye, it is likely that the recovery time will be exceptionally protracted as old staff thought to be sympathetic to the previous regime are removed and new ones appointed – doubtless with some difficulty.  In addition, it is probable that previous contracts adjudged to be inappropriate are cancelled and new ones signed. The result is bound to be a rash of litigation. We will see.

The devastation at Palapye may or may not be related to the election but for a certainty, the effects of the fall out there will be felt long after it has taken place, the outcome known, and the one party victorious and all others rubbed in the sand.

It is unlikely that those most responsible for the present ugliness and lack of shame will be bothered about the long term effects of what is now happening. All that matters for so many who are involved is to win the election at almost any cost.

The standards that they are now setting will be, however, the standards by which they will conduct themselves in future. What is now so worrying, therefore, is not what the country has now become but what it will be like in the weeks immediately after the election.

Etcetera II



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