Uncouth and intemperate language will never persuade, on the contrary it repels. Indeed sarcasm and debating individuals rather than issues is totally unproductive.
If anything bad language takes away from reason and logic, replacing it with emotion and a base instinct to avenge and get even. Nothing will come out of name calling and badmouthing a political opponent, without advancing a substantive line of argumentation.
The danger of empty emotional debate has long been recognized as a pitfall in the journalism profession.
That is why a major component of journalism training emphasizes the need to get balance, by insisting on a comment from the other party to an argument to avoid the danger of presenting a jaundiced one sided view that may not be true.
Very often gossip, rumour and sheer conjecture are presented as truths, thereby injuring hapless individuals who may have no access to the media to rebut the assertion.
Sadly our politics are replete with intellectual dishonesty at all levels.
Very little time is spent analyzing the validity or otherwise of political assertions.
Among the cadres violence has become endemic because of the shallow level of argumentation which has no respect for the truth.
The situation is not any better at the higher level where verbal violence has dealt an equally severe blow to the quality of debate and political interaction replacing cogent and well reasoned debate with shrill and ill conceived ideas.
Instead of dealing with issues, our political leaders have allowed their cadres and supporters to cast aspersions at their opponents. Invariably the measure is reciprocated with the result that the political environment is poisoned with sterile and unproductive dialogue.
The issue of tribalism is symbolic of the malaise that has afflicted our country.
For a while we assumed that the culture of the “stupid idiot” had been relegated to the dustbin of political history, sadly it is back with ferocious resurgence.
It is no longer strange to discuss sensitive foibles attributed to individuals, whether true or not.
It is important for the current political players and those who will be privileged to contest elections next year to devise messages that will motivate the electorate to stream to various polling stations to cast their votes. Name calling and character assassination will certainly not motivate the potential electorate to register and vote.
And politicians should make no mistake that the sole duty of the Electoral Commission is to encourage voters to register.
The electoral body is only a referee in the political parties’ struggle for State power.
Therefore, the onus is on political players to become attractive in their political messages which will be skewed towards problem solving.
As we have said in the past, Zambians have enough problems on their hands and do not need to spend their time listening to political players who do not inspire.
The purpose of political office is not for personal aggrandisement but to help the underprivileged to emerge.