The level of invectives and foul language exchanged in the last Presidential elections is totally unprecedented. Nothing was sacred and nobody was spared.
These elections will go down in history as the worst in terms of the level of dialogue and lack of civility among contenders.
In particular, Chongwe Member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo stands out for her outrageous and totally unacceptable level of insults. She despised the person of President Edgar Lungu, cast aspersions about his health and generally spoke down the party for which she was representative.
She exercised no restraint whatever even when she knew that the remarks she was making were simply hurtful and with no direct relevance to the political issues at hand.
This level of political debate is not only unacceptable but is an affront to the peace, harmony and good neighborliness that this country has enjoyed for the last 50 years.
Late President Nelson Mandela said “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
Political debate should not be allowed to degenerate into personal vituperative which ultimately elicit a counter reaction that may at times be equally unmeasured and therefore deleterious and vengeful.
As for public figures, their very utterances are closely scrutinized for wisdom and temperance, self-control and equanimity of character.
Very often individuals get carried away by the heat of the moment and make highly unguarded statements for which they regret at their leisure.
Such was the case with our Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe who chose to disparage his party in front of a partisan crowd.
He went to town describing his PF colleagues as bad and terrible people whom he failed to unite.
All this was on camera and cannot be denied. It will remain on record for many years to come and will be a reference point for good and bad. It will be a legacy Mr. Munkombwe must carry with him.
His speech may have carried the day, but added to the negative perception of tribalism, which is now haunting the party and some individuals to whom tribalism may be alien.
“I tried to unite them at our last convention, those people cannot be united, they are terrible things, they are terrible people, I can tell you, so I will not wait.
I will do everything possible to really tell people to vote against them,” Munkombwe told a cheering crowd.
As fate would have it, these “terrible people” have won and have now formed Government. Mr. Munkombwe now wants to congratulate Edgar Lungu, the man he despised in public. This is hypocrisy.
The moral of the story is temperance, humility and wisdom.
The words we speak and insults we dispense live longer than our memories can ever imagine. Inconvenient moments will arise in the future when our utterances will stand witness against our character.