When will the country get out of the rut?

Editorial

It is high time indeed that there should be a change in the way that politics is being played out in this country, going down as it has done in the same rut, that is, following the same pattern of behaviour by government after government. It is difficult to change the view that nothing has changed in the way of doing politics, that the poor practices of the past have been perpetuated under the new government. Yet, like others earlier, it too was voted for in the hope that it would bring to an end past malpractices and embrace an improved way of running the affairs of the country.

The initial promising start to cope with the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic, taking such a pre-emptive bold measure as the early lockdown, was soon marred by the confusion of poor as well as questionable decisions taken in relation to the procurement of medical supplies. Some persons close to the regime were found to be taking undue pecuniary advantage of their proximity to the new incumbents of power – a repeat of previous practices. Further investigations led to the uncovering of what was allegedly the murder of a political agent. One prominent minister had to step down, and it was hoped that given the closeness of the dead victim to power, the case would soon be solved by finding and convicting the culprit.

Instead, the unravelling of the case has shown the gaps and weaknesses in our institutions and led to drug trails as well as labyrinthine and shady business dealings involving the high and the mighty. Now there are private prosecutions, suits and countersuits being lodged in court by umpteen political and legal stakeholders who have jumped into the fray, and all the stakeholders, those in power, those positioning themselves for a future grab, the opposition, and activists of various sorts are now trying to gain political mileage. All this makes good footage and titillates the appetites of those who thrive on such a mess, but what good is that doing to the country?

It is true that the truth must be found out and justice meted out, but the way that things are happening is just a repeat of what has been seen before, with undue delays and labyrinthine twists and turns that give a very poor image of the law enforcement, investigative, and governance processes in our country. Isn’t that what we had seen before too? This makes people rightly ask whether politics will continue to be more concerned with defending the indefensible, keep trying to salvage the lost reputations of those who are have savaged it from within the ranks? Can the country afford such a non-stop diversion of its energies and resources away from attending to the issues of more immediate importance and relevance to the livelihood of the masses?

And God knows that despite the upbeat air presented by government with the inauguration of flyovers, the prospects being entertained following the opening of frontiers with the resumption of touristic activities, the affluence at malls and other places after lifting of restrictions, it is undeniable that the overall prevailing atmosphere and feeling in the country is not the brightest. One would not be wrong to state that it is one of pessimism for the future of the country, for the upcoming generations for whom opportunities are closing elsewhere as well due to the contraction resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic which has taken a new upturn despite our vaccination coverage.

We cannot deny the jobs lost, swelling unemployment figures, industries shutting down, our receding international image, the swelling national debt amongst other things. They don’t seem to be getting the serious attention and thinking that they deserve so as to find the viable, short- and long-term solutions that they are crying for.

Apart from economic security there is also the visible disintegration of the social fabric, and responsible to a large extent is the explosion of the drug culture that has been hastened by the advent of synthetic drugs for one. But another major factor is the running after easy money by all means, and that the irregular practices at the high levels have no doubt spurned. There is urgency in shifting focus to these problems instead of wasting energies elsewhere, to prevent the country from sliding further down both nationally and internationally.

At such times, leaders put aside their political differences and their personal animus towards each other to get the country out of the rut. We would hope that this might yet be possible here, that an element of patriotism and some magnanimity would be brought in to lift the country out of the sinking mood and heads put together to revamp the economy. Does the moral leadership exist for such an eventuality? That is a tall order, and it is for those who are vying for leadership to give the concrete answer.


* Published in print edition on 22 October 2021

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