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HH hits a story of Moses political cadre.


Political CadresFriends, it’s time for an honest conversation about political cadres, that many of you are concerned about. In our frequent interactions, this matter has come up and I did promise to address it. My only request to you is to read these thoughts with an open mind with the purpose of understanding. I welcome all forms of feedback and I too will have an open mind to embrace constructive criticism.Whenever there is a challenge, my instinct is to understand the root of it in depth. We cannot claim that we can fix something without understanding its intricacies. Let us first understand, what is a cadre? We must begin by humanising them and not be led by our personal prejudices based on what we have observed as unbecoming conduct. A cadre is a youth, a human being whose circumstances have necessitated their engagement in this form of occupation. Think of young Moses, a 23-year-old unemployed youth from Chibolya. Life from its onset has been harsh as he was born to a single mother who did not have the means to provide for his basic needs such as balanced nutrition, education, decent clothing, healthcare and numerous other needs. Moses’s mother died when he was 8 years old from complications arising from a pregnancy and the lack of provision of decent antenatal care. He was left under the care of his 75-year old grandmother, who has 7 other grandchildren under her roof. Meals are hard to come by and bedtime is like an extreme sport of jostling for a comfortable spot in a small room with all his cousins. Moses’s worldview is one of hopelessness as his reality is wrought with great difficulty. As he grows into his teens, his heart is hardened by the tough circumstances of living in want and survival means engaging in social deviance. His heroes are local “Commanders,” who move with bundles of cash and dominate the informal economy within his community. He can relate to them as they have a similar background as he. He is moved by the allure of being able to make a living from pledging fealty to these Commanders, and is happy to do their bidding, even if the acts are criminal in nature. Moses realises that these Commanders source their power in the informal economy from their linkage to politics. This ostensibly makes him fiercely loyal to the political party from which the Commander is aligned. They adorn themselves in party regalia and chant slogans as they traverse the markets, bus stops and informal trading areas collecting tolls, levies and tribute from traders. The police look the other way as they engage in their activities with impunity. These activities are structured in a way that allows for effective generation of revenues, while sending an aggressive message into the community of who is in charge. The community reluctantly acquiesces.Take a moment to imagine what this feels like for Moses, a child born into obscurity and great difficulty without a father figure, to being feared and empowered by virtue of his association to a powerful force called a political party. The feeling of significance and wellbeing he draws from it is enormous and there is no rational explanation anyone can make to convince him that what he is doing is wrong. Moses literally has no alternative to make a living as opportunities are virtually non-existent. He has no education and no vocational skills, so this occupation is literally his only avenue to survive in a tough economy.With this context being set, imagine that Moses has been told that what sustains him is on the verge of being taken away because there is a guy called Hakainde Hichilema on the radio, convincing people to essentially shift power from the party that Moses belongs to, to another. The Commander gets a call from his area MP and receives a parcel with weapons and some allowances for Moses and his crew, and tasks them to disrupt the radio program. There is no question in Moses’ mind that this is the right thing to do and he carries out the attack with the ferocity that is expected of him.What Moses doesn’t know is that the very guy he has been taught to hate and attack, not only loves him but has a plan to provide alternative opportunities for him to make a decent living. Before I continue, I can imagine you saying, “Bally wait, even UPND has cadres.” This is correct. Politics in Zambia is such that to counteract the phenomenon, all parties have cadres in their membership. The main aim of cadres is for community mobilisation, information dissemination and campaigns but their essence has been besmirched by the issue of incentives. The lack of opportunities means that being a cadre becomes a full-time job that must come with a form of remuneration, privileges and other incentives. The other issue is the unfortunate need for security. The breakdown in the rule of law means that the police is compromised, and parties have to seek alternative ways to protect themselves from the vitriolic nature of the ruling party cadres. This is a culture we abhor and one we intend to change.The SolutionIn order to sort out the issue of cadres, we have to address the matter holistically with the strategic engagement of a political, economic, and sociological approach. Appreciate who Moses is and know that there are millions of youths just like him in similar circumstances. Understand the informal economy and how it works and marry that with the intricacies of local politics. This issue will not be solved in a short time frame, but we can begin a process that resolves it. I propose the following 3 phases:Phase 1: Education, Skills and Vocational trainingThe youth of our country must be provided with direct assistance in their enrolment in skills and vocational training, in addition to our University financial aid scheme. We will create an environment that is conducive for investment in various sectors and these investments will most certainly require skilled employees from a diverse array of vocations. We have been engaging with numerous investors, both locally and internationally, who have keen interest in investing in our country and developing industries alongside Zambians. This is part of our agenda for economic growth and diversification that will be a driver for job creation where newly trained youth will be employed. Moses can enrol in a government funded skills training program in machining works and be assured employment by a mining services company that will have a positive growth trajectory as we shall encourage the ramping up out mineral output in the mining sector. Phase 2: SME Development There are key of factors that are necessary for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. These include provision of capital, technical assistance and market facilitation. We have a plan to attract the much need capital that will be channelled to youth owned enterprises through a youth investment fund that will be managed by the Development Bank of Zambia. This capital will be sourced from international investors as well as domestic sources of capital such as ZCCM-IH, NAPSA and the treasury, that will be prudently managed. We will empower the Zambia Development Agency with the personnel and resources to be an entrepreneurship development incubator where youths can get advice, business development tools and resources to embark on their ventures in a manner that yields desired results. This will be alongside our plan to help existing entrepreneurship incubators such as Bongo Hive, so that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our country is adequately developed and becomes the envy of Africa. Armed with capital, skills and production capacity, the youth will need a market for their goods and services. Our first step in our market facilitation plan for these youth led enterprises will be preferential procurement status to supply government. The next will be the creating linkages with large private sector companies, by offering incentives for them to source their supplies from these youth led enterprises. This will enable youth owned businesses to grow and employ fellow youth.My vision is to develop key sectors namely manufacturing, mineral processing, agriculture and tourism that will drive our diversification program and employ millions of Zambian youth.Phase 3: Strengthening InstitutionsWe have spoken about strengthening institutions on numerous occasions which includes developing institutional capacity and independence. I touched on the need for qualified personnel who are employed on merit as the foundation to this plan. As this discussion is about the solution to the phenomenon of political cadres, I will focus on matters that directly affect them. A key institution that has been abused for political expediency and has also played a part in allowing for the proliferation of the power of political cadres is the Zambia Police. They have looked the other way while ruling party cadres engage in criminality and social deviance. We have made it clear that we will empower the police to be professional and independent, and arrest anyone engaged in political violence or lawlessness, regardless of which political party they belong to. Their job is to enforce the law without fear or favour, and we shall ensure that this will be the case moving forward. Another important institution that has been weakened for political expediency to allow for cadres to commandeer the informal economy is that of the local government and the councils they oversee. Councils must have the powers and capacity to manage the markets, bus stations, land matters, among their numerous responsibilities and effectively collect revenue. This should also translate into effective service delivery to the local communities they are meant to serve. If prudently managed, the councils will have sufficient resources to engage in community investments within their purview and also contribute to the employment of youths. This is part of our plan to broaden the tax base and formalise the informal economy. These measures will not displace Moses and his friends, but will offer an alternative opportunity for them to be incorporated into a formal structure with dignity and decent pay.We are determined to provide youths like Moses with skills, jobs and business opportunities. Remember that Moses is human, and his circumstances are not his choosing but rather arising from the dereliction of duty among leaders for far too long. I appreciate the time you have taken to read through my reflections and plans to solve the challenge of political cadres. This is still a work in progress, but I believe we have the right framework to make a tangible difference. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and contributions so we can refine these plans and better execute them.God bless you all.HH aka Bally


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