HH7 ON THE “ZAMBIA 2023 FAIR PLAY AWARD” LIST
By: Sakwiba Sikota
As we end the year I have been looking at whom to nominate for the Zambia 2023 fair play award. There is a need to recognise and acknowledge people who serve as examples of reaching a higher embodiment of fair play. Something that we should all strive to achieve or become.
I will in the first week of next year make my nominees for those who could be considered for the Zambia 2023 fair play award. In this post I shall try to illustrate what ‘fair play’ is and why it is important.
FIFA has been awarding a fair play award each year to deserving teams, fans or individual players each year. In 2001 Paulo Di Canio stopped the game by taking ball out of play with his hands, when opposing goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was lying badly injured on the ground. The goal was gaping and if Di Canio had no morals he would have fired his team into the lead.
Quite often in football when a player is injured the ball is put out of play. From the resulting throw in taken by the opposite side they will throw the ball back to their opponents who had kicked the ball out. There is no rule or written law that says they should do this but all decent teams and players practice this.
A fair play award can be given even in the political, economic or social playing fields.
Many people such as OCIDA, Transparency International, the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, most civil society and the Church bodies, have been calling upon President Hakainde Hichilema to publicly declare his assets. Even his ‘Gym Buddies’ like Michael Gonzales the American Ambassador to Zambia have been demanding that President Hakainde make these declarations openly to the public for the sake of transparency, democracy and fair play.
Team UPND has strenuously been resisting these calls and Chief Government Spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa argues and claims that the Zambian Constitution does not require President Hakainde Hichilema to do so.
What are the criteria for fair play that are used even in just a game of football as opposed to actions that impact political and social fair play? Respect. For every athlete, playing by the written rules is mandatory, and respecting the unwritten ones is a must. Fair play requires unconditional respect for opponents, fellow players, referees and fans.
If we are to transfer this to answer Team UPND’s reluctance to have HH publicly declare his assets every year we would say, “ Respect. For every politician, playing by the written rules (Constitution and Acts of Parliament) is mandatory, and respecting the unwritten ones is a must. Fair play requires unconditional respect for opponents, fellow political leaders, judiciary, and citizens.”
Di Canio did not plead that the Fifa Rules of Football did not require him to catch the ball and stop playing; he just did the moral and right thing.
Cristiano Ronaldo told a referee to overturn a penalty awarded in his favor during Al-Nassr’s Asian Champions League game against Persepolis. The act of sportsmanship occurred in the second minute of a match in November 2023 as Ronaldo was seemingly brought down in the box, prompting referee Ma Ning to award a penalty to the home side.
Ronaldo approached the referee and argued that the decision should be reversed and that in fact he was not fouled. Referee Ma subsequently went to the pitch-side monitor and ruled out the decision. If Ronaldo had no morals to do the right thing he would have kept quiet and taken the penalty and his side may have won the game which ended up as a draw.
Ronaldo showed integrity and morality as he did not plead that the Fifa Rules of Football did not require him to admit to the referee that it was not a penalty as he was not brought down by his opponent.
Team UPND seems oblivious to ‘The National Values and Principles’ set out in section 9 of Act No. 2 of 2016 which ammends the Constitution of Zambia. It reads, “ (a) morality and ethics;
(b) patriotism and national unity;
(c) democracy and constitutionalism;
(d) human dignity, equity, social justice, equality and non- discrimination;
(e) good governance and integrity; and
(f) sustainable development.”
Morality, ethics good governance and integrity are therefore the unwritten “fair play rules” required of Team UPND and its leaders.
HH7 should try to reach the moral standing of Paulo Di Canio, Christiano Ronaldo (popularly called ‘CR7’) and others and show commitment to the spirit of fair play.
The only thing in common between HH7 and CR7 is the seven. If CR7 put on the white gloves of HH7, he would declare his assets. If, however, HH7 were to put on the boots of CR7 in that game last month, HH7 would have insisted on taking the penalty.
Cornelius Mweetwa would give counsel that there was no law requiring CR7 to refuse to take the penalty or HH7 to declare his assets.
It is for this reason that there will be no appearance on the list of nominees by HH7 on the “ZAMBIA 2023 FAIR PLAY AWARD” List.