THE decision by the United Party for National Development (UPND) leadership to boycott the day of national prayers because of differences with the ruling Patriotic Front is as otiose as it is childish.
Prayers by their very nature are an appeal to divine counsel, goodwill and guidance. They are a human attempt to communicate with the divine for inspiration and providence.
Gospel values or indeed the values espoused by various religious books including the Torah for the Jews and Koran for the Moslems speak to higher values that go beyond the human intellect.
An appeal to the divine goes beyond the narrow schisms that divide humanity and actually bring together men and women from all walks of life.
As it turns out, the national prayers were attended by men and women from all political parties because they were appealing for a common good for the nation. They realised that the peace we enjoy, the tranquillity that prevails and indeed the unity that brings us together should not be taken for granted because other nations have lost it.
The UPND leadership must realise that regardless of our political, tribal or regional orientation, we are Zambian nationals. Thus, the need to put national interest first before political party interest.
Claims that the UPND cannot dialogue and reconcile with the PF because its party leadership and members are politically persecuted by the Government is grossly misleading and deliberately economical with the truth.
These statements defy the simplest form of logic- that of causation. The police do not arrest law-abiding citizens. There is always some reason for such arrests and often this is explained in courts of law.
The UPND cadres and leaders are currently in incarceration and appearing before our courts of law on account of mainly electoral-related offences.
How do allegations of inciting citizens to rise against a legitimately elected Government become trumped up charges?
This country went to the polls on August 11 and the winners were declared by the ECZ, and we now have a Government in place.
The UPND has severally snubbed peaceful and amicable means aimed at fostering reconciliation with its perceived opponents.
Overtly, the campaign period leading to the general elections was characterised by unprecedented levels of politically orchestrated violence, particularly between the UPND and PF cadres.
In this vein, on 15th July, 2016, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) called for an extraordinary meeting with political party leaders to dialogue over the need for co-existence and violence-free campaigns.
As a show of commitment, the party leaders were expected to sign a Peace Accord, but the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema declined to do so.
A week later, on 24th July, 2016, the National House of Prayer called for national prayers for peaceful elections. Shockingly, the UPND boycotted the event.
Going by this brief history of shunning such national events, it is not surprising that the UPND leadership appears set not to reconcile with the PF, let alone not being part of yesterday’s National Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reconciliation commemoration.
Mr Hakainde Hichilema and his cohorts must know that for as long as they continue to exhibit such leadership traits, their ambitions to govern this country will forever remain a pipedream.
Zambia is a Christian Nation and its citizens always admire a political leader who espouses true Christianity values such as prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation. These traits picture a leader who has the ability to rise above narrow partisan, tribal or regional interests.
In fact, by not attending national events like the National Day of Prayer, Fasting and Reconciliation, the UPND leadership missed a golden opportunity to show that they are a government-in-waiting because national prayers have nothing to do with one’s political affiliation.
State functions are not for any tribal, political or regional grouping. Instead, they are about putting national interest first before one’s political party agenda.
It is, therefore, unacceptable for the UPND leadership to continue fuelling anarchy by not acknowledging the legitimately elected Government.
And the UPND leadership must know that agitating unrest and confusion will not only affect the PF sympathisers but it shall have negative repercussions on the UPND membership too.
This is the more reason why opportunities to broker reconciliation with the ruling party must be seized at all costs. We must always cherish the unity that this country has enjoyed since Independence and ensure that nothing brings about discord among us.
We urge the UPND to rethink their stance on reconciliation with the governing party so that the country moves on under the motto of One Zambia, One Nation.