As we approach August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections, one expects each political party contesting in such elections to improve on its popularity to increase its chances of winning in the forthcoming elections. But if a party seems to be doing things which makes it more unpopular in the eyes of many Zambians, one wonders how such a party can win with a landslide victory in the first round; thereby creating no need for a presidential re-run.
Although Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) hasn’t announced the official date for starting political campaigns, what one knows is that every time of the existence of a political party is a political campaign time. This implies that Zambians always watch the behavior of each political party; and of its top leadership and those of its members before, during and after elections.
Any deviant behavior or doing anything that is against the morals, values, beliefs and practices of that society erodes chances of that political party winning in the next elections. Do you know of any political party that you feel has already lost the August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections because of bad conduct of some top party officials?
While Zambians have been condemning vulgar language, hate speech and political violence, it appears some political parties’ top leadership contesting in the forthcoming elections have high appetite for such vices; and seem to fail to restrain themselves and their agents from participating in such unusual and unacceptable behavior in our society.
As a result, the images of some parties and their respective top leaders seem to be moving from good to worse among majority Zambians. As stated several times under this column and its related one on Monday, Zambians are peaceful people. Additionally, our country is a Christian nation. From the background of first republican president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s philosophy of Humanism, Zambians enjoy love, unity and co-operation among themselves.
This is why, despite some economic hardships here and there, Zambians appear to be happy. It’s only some of the top officials in some opposition parties who seem to be annoyed. No one knows why they are vexed?
To hear someone is vomiting vulgar language against a fellow Zambian or to a certain group of Zambians, one wonders to what extent is such a person a Zambian. Are true Zambians sarcastic, violent with immeasurable high levels of hatred against each other?
While, as human beings, we might hurt each other in some ways; and with political ambitions, we can have different views from other political parties and their leaders, we should always know and practice Christian values and principles of love, unity, reconciliation and leaving in peace with all our fellow human beings. Vulgar language, hatred, hate speech and political violence are enemies of many Zambians.
With few months before August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections, one expects most parties contesting in such elections; through their respective leadership and membership at various levels of our society, will demonstrate how they will promote love, unity, peace and stability in Zambia while promoting sustainable socio-economic national development process.
Strangely, some political parties and their leadership are getting worse in their conduct against public interest; especially when it comes to vulgar language, hatred, promotion of hate speech and political violence. Because of overwhelming anger in some opposition leaders, some resort to physical fight against their political opponents. Why? Where are such levels of anger coming from?
It’s from such a background that Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia executive director, Rev. Phukuta Mwanza said: ‘It’s extremely worrying that people who aspire to take up leadership of this country can be highly unpalatable in their choice of language.’ Rev. Mwanaza added that insults and vulgar language are generally unacceptable in society…(Daily Nation: 15/4/2016; p.1).
Could this be a demonstration of immense frustration from a clear picture that some opposition political parties won’t make it to be a ruling party after the August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections? Why are some politicians behaving like wounded buffalos?
Arising from such observations, Rev. Mwanza advised Zambians that leaders who have a tendency of verbally abusing and disrespecting citizens shouldn’t be allowed to ascend to positions of authority because they have the ability of fracturing the moral and democratic values of the country(ibid).
Some opposition top officials have really messed up the image of their respective parties. Instead of painting their political parties with nice colours like those of the rain bow which can attract many voters in the forthcoming elections; and beyond, they have painted their respective parties with cow dung which have disfigured the whole image of their respective parties.
Involved in various vices against our society; some political parties have ruined their image among many electorate; thereby giving more chances to other parties to win the August 11, 2016 general elections.
Such a situation reminds one of need to have selection criteria for recruiting top leadership and members in a political party. Some members; especially if they are in top leadership position can worsen the image of a political party to the disadvantage of such a party being a ruling party; or sustaining their power in government.
The current behavior of some party top leaders proves that such parties don’t have Public Relations (PR) experts in their respective parties; and that they are also too mean to hire PR consultants to advise them accordingly. If they have such experts, from the strange behaviour most Zambians see or learn about some top party leaders, one can conclude that such party leaders have an incurable vulgar language, anger, cruelty and bad behaviour; and that their ‘I-know-it-all attitudes are too high to be advised accordingly; especially on PR related issues.
But because of delicate nature of politics, one of the factors that contributed greatly to the development of professional PR was growth in the need for democracy with its effects on demand for multi-party politics. In early forms of democracies, each political party; including respective governments engaged PR practitioners to advise politicians, political parties and government leaders on how to conduct themselves; and giving guides on handling certain PR related issues before or as they crop up.
Probably because of high levels of ‘I-know-it-all’ attitudes in some top political leaders in developing countries, rarely does one see political parties hiring PR specialists to play their roles in situations like when we are nearing presidential and general elections when critical PR related issues easily germinate; thereby making most top party leaders and their supporters scatter in different directions and sweat from panic from the effects of a crisis created.
Consequently, as we approach August 11, 2016, if issues and some personalities are not managed properly, more critical issues will sprout one after another. To avoid political crisis arising from mismanagement of such issues on a political party, such organizations need to be pro-active in many areas; including avoiding vulgar language, hate speech and political violence.
Vulgar language, demonstrating high levels of hatred, promoting hate speeches and being involved in political violence create bad image for any party in Zambia.
Therefore, as most political parties claim that they have active structures on the ground, as we move towards the forthcoming presidential and general elections, one expects each political party contesting in the August 11, 2016 elections to, firstly, engage PR specialist; and secondly, ensure that such PR specialists orient all party leaders from the national committees to grass-root structures to ascertain that PR related issues are handled in a pro-active manner; or that when they emerge, such issues are managed in a professional way to avoid creating a crisis for the party.
Among other factors, such an approach to political party management can increase a respective political party’s popularity; and heighten its chances to win the August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections.
Failure to consider such factors in our society, even without any form of manipulating the results of an election, political parties with top leaders of strange personalities cannot win the forthcoming elections.
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