ACT-Wazalendo’s Zitto Kabwe has aroused intense feelings from different sections of the country. It emerged that he had written a letter to the World Bank asking them to withhold some Sh 1.15 trillion, as a loan requested by the government for the education sector in this country. Justifying his letter, he argued that he had written to tell them the government did not deserve the loan because its record on human rights, unfavorable political climate against opposition parties and the issue of barring pregnant girls from public schools to resume studies after they have given birth.
This would appear to be a change of mind on the part of Mr Kabwe as in the past he was dead set against other opposition politicians who called for the intervention of foreign entities in domestic affairs.
He once chastised another opposition bigwig, one Tundu Lissu, who had called for intervention of foreign entities in domestic matters on largely the same grounds Kabwe’s letter is based.
The government said negotiations are ongoing with the World Bank on the matter.
Kabwe has picked an extreme option to drive his point across the board. Those opposing him have hardened their opinions as well.
It was in Parliament where the strongest criticism against him came from. Parliament Speaker Job Ndugai argued that what Kabwe did amounted to being “unpatriotic” to the country, and that the issues he raised were those of differences on policies and they could be discussed, something Kabwe rejected, pointing to CCM’s election manifesto regarding education of pregnant girls.
He asked the Attorney General to investigate the whole affair and see if it did not have a criminal bent to it as well! He further pointed out that, Kabwe was attempting to block the loan which would help improve lives of millions of students in public schools, schools which MPs do not send their children to, as they have other options.
Another MP from the ruling party went as far as calling for Kabwe to be killed! Another youth wing CCM leader called for those “defaming” the country to be met with the same fate. This is truly appalling and should be condemned in the strongest terms.
Why has this issue aroused such intense feelings? And all the issues which Kabwe raised in his letter are not new, with some of them being with us for decades, so why now?
It seems that almost everyone who has opted to be involved in this matter is going for my way or the highway mindset.
The whole thing is such a humiliating affair to the country, as it goes to show just how much our country is at the mercy of foreign powers more than half a century into political independence.
We are still dependent on these foreign powers for many things. Our elections are not credible even if almost everyone in the country claim the same if a single report of foreign observers say there were irregularities, and vice versa.
We lack faith in our justice system and point to foreign institutions like the International Criminal Court to intervene when our affairs get out of hand. We still belong to some international organizations which are relics of colonialism.
It is a staple of African opposition politicians to call for help from way beyond Africa’s borders, as we cannot trust ourselves to deal with our own problems. We go to their hospitals for our health concerns for those of us who can afford such luxury; we do not die in some street hospital within the country.
Calling on foreign entities to intervene in domestic affairs would seem to rest on whether the issue does more harm than good to the rest of the country. In this matter of education loan, the dilemma is obvious; either all students are allowed back to school or all of them miss out! There are many agonizing issues involved here in a country struggling with teen pregnancies and keeping girls in the classrooms and away from early marriages as well.
On this end, Kabwe is caught between a rock and a hard place.
These extreme statements are indicative of the time we are in; we have a general election ahead. And since we are on the extreme end of things, how about we see this as another reminder of not asking taxpayers from other countries to fund the education of our children?
If we can find money through domestic sources to fund various mega infrastructure projects, we certainly can find some change for our education. It is a matter of priorities.