To: Mrs (Minister of Labour, Zambia) Joyce Nonde Simukoko

4

It is a rather sad reality that those that are appointed to serve can also serve to disappoint. I should point out that I am quite disappointed Minister, Mrs Simukoko, disappointed in you madam pertaining your conduct as regards your handling of Mika Mwambazi’s issue (The Horse Shoe Saga) in your capacity as the appointed Minister of Labour for the government Zambia.

Fallacy

I have unequivocal, absolute and downright respect and honour for the sons and daughters of the soil, who fought for the liberation of the black populace from Azaniah to Zanzibar, from the hell corridors of North America to the Caribbean and to all the ends of the earth. They fought and died for basic rights, the right to be perceived and treated as human, the right to live without fear or intimidation- fear for their lives, fear of the consequences of freedom of speech et cetra. These freedoms or lack of, where curtailed by brutal colonial and racist oppressive regimes.

Then Boom!! The wave of independence dawned on Mother Africa. Even though freedom, this basic right which to a black man/woman was only but a dream for centuries, did not knock on our national doors simultaneously but at least those were rays of hope dribbling on the African populace, starting with Nkurumah’s Ghana. Kenyan literary genius, Ngugi wa Thiongo in his book ‘A Grain of Wheat’ talks of the days of Uhuru and in those days “…even if a bean fell to the ground, it was shared among all”.

But if truth be told without fear or favour, we all know the freedom, the democracy, the rights that we espoused in a new Africa have become a fallacy if not a nightmare since the day we voted ourselves into political power. The demons that we once fought in the armed struggles and thought we had defeated are now back, seven times powerful. The brutal truth is that these demons are now operating from within those who once fought them. Surely, surely that animal called ‘democracy’ has become a fallacy.

The Horseshoe Saga

Thanks to technology, globalisation has not only become possible, but a tangible reality that we can use either for our own demise or innovatively for our betterment and amelioration as a society. Allegations of racism against The Horseshoe Restaurant where raised through social media, Facebook to be precise, by Miss Mika Mwambazi some few or so weeks ago, in relation to what she saw and heard after having lunch at that eatery.

If an organisation has a Facebook page, it is up to the administrator(s) of that organisation to enable the rating section so that customers that previously have had business, some experience or dealt with the organisation in question can freely express their experience, views and opinions. These reviews can be in form of a rating or a review in writing. It therefore stands to reason that a page rating is simply that, a rating, and that’s that. However, it is also noteworthy that it is not the job of Facebook mathematical algorithms to detect whether a particular review or rating has gotten on some restaurant management’s nerves.

Shame

It surely raises some serious eyebrows to learn that the labour department of the government of  Zambia has used the media as a jackhammer tool for propagating a witch-hunt for a law-abiding citizen on the grounds of a Facebook review which the management of The Horseshoe Restaurant found detestable. Zambia is a democracy, or so we are told and if that be true I hope one day we will learn, since I believe learning does not end, that freedom of thought, freedom expression and liberty of conscience are some of the props upon which democracy thrives.

Are you serious Minister Simukoko? Your conduct in regards the case in question is not only abhorrent in the true and actual sense of the word but it signals the alarmingly ludicrous height of shamelessness that has enveloped African governments. Parliament and or public office is not a shrine for cleansing darkened political souls, rather simply, a place and a platform to serve. And those who serve on such platforms ought to realise that they are there at the mercy of the populace.

I truly do not understand or comprehend how you could exonerate the Horseshoe Restaurant and use the media to call for the arrest of a citizen who was simply exercising her democratic right- expressing her opinion based on what she witnessed. Even the Horseshoe Restaurant accorded her that right by granting and enabling its customers access to the review section on their Facebook page.

But alas, you went on to prosecute a citizen in the court, not only of public, but also of political opinion. By that, you Minister Simukoko, have given yourself unbelievable powers to the extent of anointing yourself as prosecutor, judge and jury. That is precisely the kind of behaviour and attitude that has, and still continue to retard the discourse of our civility; as a people, as a nation and as a continent. It is very dangerous and can poison socio-political environments and any primary school-kid knows that.

Look Yourself in The Eye

Labour laws and human rights are violated in Africa by foreign employers in the workplace more often than not and as long as the employer’s skin is ten shades lighter, it seems like from the view of governments it is okay. How many black African workers are physically and verbally abused on a daily, weekly, monthly basis across Sub-Saharan Africa (Including Zambia) by Chinese employers and still, our governments look the other way. African governments (yours included), all they do is warn employers breaching labour laws and the circus continues.

Could it be that certain rotten officials in government departments are getting bribed by these rogue business operators and thus becoming ‘sell-outs’ and undermining the fruits of the liberation struggle our fathers and mothers fought? I do not need the answer to that question Minister, you can keep it and perhaps meditate upon it; and I hope you know yourself very well.

Alutha continua ‘Cry Mama Afrika’

It is God-given wisdom that everything under heaven, whether blue or black, voted or self-imposed, democratic or securocratic, Zambian or Greek, has an end and surely the colonial and brutal mentality that our fathers fought and our generation is now fighting shall surely come to an end- the end is nigh.

As for now, A luta continua!

Son of the soil,

Ben Mapuranga (BA, Pol & Inter Rel; MPPM; DRM; EOL)

Ben Mapuranga is a freelance writer residing in Perth, Western Australia. He is a graduate of The Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Relations.

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