The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) notes with sadness that Zambia risks losing its peaceful status if the current crop of political leaders does not stop acting and behaving irresponsibly just for the sake of maintaining political power. It is surprising that our political leaders especially those in government who should have attempted to be role models have equally fallen for divisive politics that have no place in a country like Zambia which has multiple ethnic groups.
While politicians must ensure that they do not lose power and support, their supreme responsibility is to ensure that while holding those privileged positions, they act to unite those they lead. There is no reason to continuously beat the drums of hate as we have seen from our politicians. Government needs to focus most of its energy in addressing the challenges faced by the country rather than ranting and reacting to every criticism from those who are opposed to their style of governance. Unfortunately we find statements by those in government calling opposition leaders and their supporters as being bitter and full of hate as in bad taste and lacking substance. These actions and statements from those in power are not any different from the ones they are accusing. The PF are failing to stick to policy issues and concentrating on political firefighting. We are being fed on too many irresponsible statements coming from the leaders in power which are embarrassing to say the least. There should be more appropriate ways in which government can engage with those it deems to be criticizing because in a democratic society there should be meaningful dialogue and tolerance by all even those who hold the whims of power.
As a government that was elected to bring change, the PF needs to realise that it is accountable to the people and the grounds on which these people voted for change need to be fulfilled. The PF should offer appropriate answers to what they are doing because the Zambians deserve an explanation and the people have the right to criticize if they think things are not going well. This is time to create a broad and strategic coalition with the people of Zambia in order to develop the country instead of engaging in actions that are scary to outsiders and potential investors. While politicians are fighting for political power, it is the ordinary Zambian out there who is suffering as a result of not receiving services from government because officials are too busy fighting political battles and failing to direct policy.
While Zambians under our current constitution are free to organize and belong to any association, it is slowly becoming evident that ethnic tension is growing. Ethnicity all over the world has acted as a safety net for various groups where people feel more secure to be among “their own”. When people begin organizing and associating on ethnic lines, it should send a worrying message to all as it is not a normal way of coexisting. The unity and peace the country has enjoyed over years is at risk going by what you hear on radio talk-shows as well as various comments on news websites. Our leaders in politics as well as in the church need to skillfully address this growing threat so we do not have our country going down the Zimbabwe or Kenya way.
Those in power must also stop emulating Mugabe type of leadership which is aimed at harassing and intimidating political opponents. It is disheartening to slowly realize that those in power here now have taken up bad lessons from Mugabe’s leadership which took that country to near hell. Let them not use the police and other security wings to do their dirty political jobs. The heavy handedness which they want to employ of threat after threat was used by some leaders in MMD and did not work rather it only united people against the MMD then. We also know that our leaders of today have the potential to use the police to have their critics arrested as evidenced from what is currently pertaining. We last saw this poor leadership in the Kaunda and Chiluba days. While president Banda almost used it, he was not as ruthless as the PF are almost becoming where you have any minister ordering the police to arrest critics and the police undertake such instructions.