President Edgar Lungu must approach political inclusiveness with circumspection.
The prospect of political inclusiveness as proposed by President Edgar Lungu has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The greatest drawback is the potential to cause divisions.
In almost all the cases those adopted into the ruling party become political pariahs who stand to lose their place and influence in their own political organizations and constituencies. This is because any fraternization with the ruling party is considered as treason.
It has always been a very divisive issue due to political obduracy and a sense of proprietary license to political capital and ideas.
The Patriotic Front itself is guilty of intolerance in this regard, having disciplined or ostracized many of its members who either collaborated or were seen to work with the former ruling party.
The treatment of the 27 members of Parliament who attended the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is illustrative.
If the ruling party then, MMD, had consulted the PF, no Member of Parliament would have been expelled.
It is therefore important that outreach to opposition parties should bear some consultation and ownership with the other parties.
This is the only way that cooperation will be legitimized.
In the absence of such agreement these members stand alone and will not carry the weight that would follow if appropriate consultations were conducted.
The tragedy about Zambian politics in particular and opposition participation in general is that insularity and obstinacy are synonymous with the culture of indifference. Instead of helping Government refine its policies through constructive criticism the opposition tends to oppose for the sake of opposition. There is no ideology involved, no philosophy involved and no technical argumentation advanced for such opposition. It is done because opposition is supposed to oppose.
That is why as rightly pointed out by Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda, proportional representation if well managed would ensure a cross-pollination of ideas because opposition members would be able to contribute directly into Governance through Parliament and various parliamentary committees that develop and evolve government policy.
There is no doubt that the UPND as immediate front runner has many ideas on how to grow the economy and indeed strengthen the various arms of governance that are limping.
Ideally such ideas should find their way into the policy framework if they do not offend the ruling party philosophy.
For all practical purposes apart from UNIP which had the philosophy of humanism all the other parties have adopted pragmatic policies designed to respond to the exigencies of the day.
Therefore policies are flexible and accommodating to respond to immediate concerns. For instance issues of mining taxation are common cause and the parties all have an equal interest that nationals should benefit from their God-given resources.
What needs refining, however, is modality of implementation which can be subject of inter-party dialogue, consensus and agreement.
Our appeal to the President is to take cognizance of the willingness amongst opposition parties to dialogue and create a political environment that is conducive and working in the best interests of all citizens of Zambia.
No harm will come of a desire to dialogue, whereas insularity will lead to division.