THE tendency to underplay and denigrate results from elections is gaining currency in Zambia. An impression is being created that elections, especially by-elections, are of no consequence.
This is unfortunate because at the base of any democracy is the notion that the electorate will go to the polls to elect a small group of people to whom executive power is reposed.
Such a representative structure ensures stability and policy cohesiveness by ensuring that a well-informed, organized and focused group will manage and remain proactive to societal dictates and aspirations. That is why this group forms Government to manage the affairs of State.
More recently there has been the introduction of civil society which exerts sectional or specialist pressure on the Government to influence policy and provide checks and balances.
Ultimately civil society and pressure groups are exactly what they are-interest groups.
Sadly there is a growing misrepresentation that elected political representatives are of little consequence in the decision-making process. In essence the thesis equates elected leaders to special interest groups. This is far from the truth.
The voters in the three constituencies of Malambo, Petauke and Mulobezi have elected leaders to represent them in the National Assembly. Zambia is not a direct democracy where each person speaks for himself. We are a representative or delegative democracy with representatives who speak for the polity.
The fact that the representatives belong to a party does not undermine or diminish their role as the constituency representative. The Constituency Development Fund, for example, should be used for projects that bring benefits to the entire constituency regardless of voting pattern.
The same can be said of the Presidency. Zambians voted in their numbers for a President in whom the people have reposed their trust for the duration of his term of office. The electorate will give an evaluation in the 2016 Presidential elections.
Our democracy will only function effectively if the electorate is consciously attuned to a discipline of delegated authority, which demands that elected leaders must be given an opportunity to perform their functions as provided for by law and convention.
Thos who lost elections must respect the choice of the people and must wait their turn for the next election when they can once again present themselves to the electorate. It will not do to disparage and harangue the leadership with cogent cause and reason.
Constructive criticism is not the same as the wholesale condemnation of policies that the country is increasingly being subjected to. Time has come that we should have issue-based dialogue that engages the leadership positively.