LampSpecial Analysis

Failure to criticize must not be normalized

 By Titani Chalira*

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A person changes something merely by the re-arrangement of furniture in a house. The aesthetics of the house becomes different. It is not strange to see those who have the privilege of comparing what the house used to be before and after re-arrangement talking of change. Whether the change achieved is substantial or not depends on the perspective of those in the know about the true intention of the re-arrangement.

If the intention was to have an overhaul of the house due to its sorry state; re-arrangement of furniture is akin to bandaging a deep wound that needs more than that. The consequences are dire. However, if the house is in fine form and what remains is the attainment of some aesthetic standard; re-arrangement of furniture becomes a plausible or substantial change.

Over the two years that the Tonse Alliance administration has been in power the question of whether substantial change has been there or not is necessary. In the immediate past regime, issues of nepotism, corruption and general bad governance were being defended by a serious propaganda machine sanctioned by government officials. It was commonplace to see big positions in parastatals being filled by people who in one way or the other were related and or linked to senior government officials. 

The media was awash with stories of corruption; ranging from abuse of office, bribery and ghost contracts. Whenever people wanted to exercise their freedom of expression through demonstrations they were meeting hurdles all over. The president and a few in his circle were lording it over all. While all this was happening, the public broadcaster was busy putting forth a narrative that all was rosy. A number of media practitioners from the state broadcaster went overboard and even threatened people who were merely expressing themselves.

Parliament in session: The opposition criticizes some government policies in the august House

On different social media platforms individuals hired by the state were busy with gatekeeping narratives and the issuing of threats where they thought necessary. This was to make sure the status quo remained the same. As a result, gross impunity reigned supreme. People who were at the helm of this carelessness in governance matters went on to destroy what would have been for the better of the people. It became a house that needed to be razed down in order to make head way and develop the country for the good of everyone in it. 

The Tonse Alliance administration came into being with this background. Intentionally, people wanted substantial change that had to deal with structural issues in government that were making nepotism, corruption and bad governance to thrive. Competence and merit were to be the new norm. It meant changing the manner in which appointments were to be made to seal loopholes that would result in nepotism, favouritism and tribalism to flourish even more in appointments. Furthermore, powers of appointing authorities were to be reduced where necessary and in other cases foolproof methods were to be devised to check the appointments made.

As part of the process of making substantial change ending corruption was a serious consideration. Firstly, it had to start with putting in place personnel to lead in the fight and ensure their independence. Secondly, providing the required resources to be used in the process of fighting against corruption. Political will had to be shown by not shielding individuals who are close to power or have power and at the same time avoid witch hunting. Governance in general needed substantial change. People expected their welfare to improve through the deliberate policies of government and social protection. In addition, people looked…

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