The Patriotic Front must eat humble pie and admit that the overt abuses of power, political arrests, corrupt deportations and disregard of the people’s concern are driving the country the wrong way.
Zambians know much more than they are being credited for and should not taken for granted. They know when power is abused to benefit individuals for personal gain or as reward for campaign previous favours.
The Catholic Bishops pastoral letter read around the country last Sunday was an urgent call to action. It demanded a change of tact if our country was to remain one united and indivisible entity.
Power the Bishops have said should be used for common good to befit all the people of Zambia and not a select few.
Among the most notable concerns of the Bishops was the spate of by-elections which were increasingly motivated by greed, individual interest and a selfish propensity for political dominance, and that this was being done without care, serious prior consideration of the views of the electorate and sensitivity to the colossal amounts of money they consumed.
We agree with the bishops entirely.
As a matter of good faith and in line with the concerns of the Bishops, the Patriotic Front (PF) must cancel the 50 election petitions it has submitted to the courts of law as a matter of party policy.
It is unconscionable that the country will spend billions of Kwacha in by-elections that were ordered for the simple reason that the party wanted to change the complexion of the National Assembly.
We agree that by elections should be held, but only where there is obvious and credible grounds of malpractices which so impacted the elections that the electorate were totally overwhelmed by the strategies of the victor.
However looking at our national politicial landscape it is difficult to genuinely distinguish a party that has not engaged the electorate negatively, considering that our politics are often bereft of philosophies or indeed ideologies.
It is wrong that by elections are being held in constituencies which have no proper medical facilities and where children learn in dilapidated classrooms, while some do not even have classrooms.
The call to justice and humility means that our politics must be conducted in a matter conducive to the letter and spirit of multiparty democracy which recognizes the diversity of view and opinions. Robust debate must of necessity be part of the process.
As the Bishops rightly noted, the return to multipartism was intended to restore the various rights lost through the introduction of the one party state which inhibited freedom of expression, assembly, conscience and movement.
The corollary to the Bishops’ letter is the call for an open, transparent and trustworthy governance system that is based on integrity and good faith.
That is why they expressed their opposition to the Public Order Act which they said was oppressive and anachronistic because it hindered the full enjoyment of fundamental rights.
THE Bishops were very candid in their description of the POA. They said that in its present form it had no place in the statutes as it was both repressive and anachronistic. “It needs to be repealed.” They said.
We are aware that President Sata and many members of his cabinet have expressed their support for the order, but the Bishops have agreed with the dismay enlightened Zambians including opposition parties who have expressed concern that the order is being used to criminalize the legitimate exercise of constitutional rights.
The Bishops ca not be accused of partisan interest, if anything they have always been considered friends of the Patriotic Front judging by the number of priests and Bishops who spoke out so vehemently against the Movement for Multi party Democracy (MMD) in the 2011 elections.
Therefore as a matter of good faith the PF has no choice but read the Pastoral Letter and make a more nuanced response.