Don’t Kubeba

The PF knew the MMD had considerable financial resources they could use to entice Zambians to vote for them.  The MMD knew that high poverty levels creates great vulnerability, and that many Zambians would be sympathetic to and even vote for MMD if they received gifts. The MMD also knew that no one would ask about the source of funds. The strategy was clear: the more gifts we give now; the more votes we get on Election Day. This was not a secret strategy. I overheard one man say “that province could be won with rock buns and beer,” to which his friend replied “it would only take the rock buns”.

The PF knew that telling Zambians, “accepting money or gifts from government officials during elections is breaking the law” would fall on deaf ears. Instead they chose the adage “if you can’t beat them join them,” and “Don’t Kubeba” was born! The “Don’t Kubeba”, or “Don’t Tell” campaign strategy was: “accept money from government officials, just don’t tell them you won’t vote for them.” This proved to be a very shrewd and effective strategy. On the Copperbelt, people thronged to MMD political meetings to get money, chitenge clothing and t-shirts.

‘Don’t Kubeba’ certainly contributed to the PF win. Nonetheless, many serious minded Christians had a lot of questions about the slogan. How should Christians respond to a slogan that encourages corruption? How can Christians make a difference in politics when one party encourages taking bribes and another party uses dishonest means to gain power? With the PF government talking tough against corruption it would seem good for them to categorically denounce the “Don’t Kubeba” slogan. “Don’t Kubeba” is a contradiction to the prevention and fight against corruption.

“One way Christians can contribute to the transformation of society is by getting involved in politics to fight corruption and injustice and by providing good governance” says a Nigerian Christian Development worker Danladi Musa.  But, outside of the New Jerusalem, Christian politicians will face many challenges. Challenges like “Don’t Kubeba”. On the surface it may appear that the PF has plainly encouraged corruption. But, how do you face a process that is characterized by intrigue, political maneuvering and deceit? What do you do when those responsible for conducting elections may be coerced into supporting the ruling party by falsifying figures in favor of preferred candidates?

The easy answer is – obey God. But what does obedience look like when the system is unjust? Do you say “Don’t Kubeba” during the election and then “Do Kubeba” if you win the election? Or is obedience your only hope no matter what? We have testimonies in the lives of people like Joseph and Daniel who remained obedient to God and in the end God vindicated and elevated them to the highest leadership positions. How are you helping church members in politics show allegiance to God? Are you telling Christian politicians that they cannot be effective in anything until he or she learns to obey God no matter the consequences?

Lawrence Temfwe