OPINION: Let’s Encourage National Debate Because That’s What Democracy Is All About

I found the topic on Zambia Reports on the role of the opposition in Zambia, as to whether it exists to offer checks and balances or to misinform, very interesting. But it was even more interesting going through the comments which pointed to partisan inclinations void of facts on the ground.

The topic, raised, is very important in helping correct the current toxic political environment. Maybe to take you back a bit, news of Zambia selling ZNBC, ZAFFICO and NRDC left many in these institutions gasping for breath and yet the opposition was clearly just politicking. Did Zambia gain anything from that propaganda?

Today, someone is saying Bill 10, at Second Reading, is taking away powers from Bank of Zambia to print money so that the PF can print money for 2021 Elections and that the powers of Parliament to approve the contracting of national debt will equally be removed, among other falsehoods.

You and I know that heads of political parties cannot be that ignorant not to know that all contentious issues in Bill 10 were debated and ironed out and that at the earlier stage there was even a Select Committee that listened to patriotic Zambians who rose to the occasion of making submissions and that the Select Committee made recommendations to Parliament.

So why are some opposition political leaders bent on misleading the general public? Have we seriously wondered? Ordinary citizens are lost because of conflicting statements by the opposition on very important national issues that require national consensus. Before we go any further, let’s look at a part of Prof. Lungwangwa’s advice to the UPND.

He reiterates, “We may not agree on a number of issues, but we develop nations by consensus through compromise. What is happening in our country’s political space is unacceptable! The Constitution is a sacred document which rises above partisan politics and looks at the interest of the country. This process of coming up with public good must be a moment of consensus by all of us!”

Truth be told, democracy stands opposed to the ideals of the opposition of preaching a common political benefit by all citizens in a nation. What Prof. Lungwangwa is trying to say is that modern mass societies are characterised by a variety of interests, world views and beliefs; as such, no single government or political organisation can embody the interests of all in society.

Consequently, governance in the 21st century yearns for diverse political parties thriving towards common principles of freedom, justice and solidarity, for different causes and different groupings of society. It is now harder for homogeneity in any system of governance and the opposition in Zambia must understand this.

The main purpose of any political party is not to make its leader Head of State but to act as a social organisation with a representative function, embodying particular interests, aggregating and communicating them to institutions of governance. The role of a mature opposition is crucial to any form of democracy.

Instead of walking out of Parliament, a mature opposition holds government accountable; it should serve as a watchdog ensuring government functions within the confines of the law, exposing the likes of corruption, nepotism and the abuse of power. It pursues justice upon any deviation from the law or constitution.

But of great importance to the people, too, is the fact that it serves as a credible alternative to the ruling government; this function is crucial because competition is healthy in ensuring better service delivery and preventing complacency by the sitting government. Even in Parliament, it ought to play varying roles, on behalf of its constituents, within policy, policy development and accounting for project implementation.

Having said that, it’s clear that the route that the opposition in Zambia has taken of misinformation to derail government programmes is not even within the confines of modern democracy, it’s a fallacy that is anchored on serving the political interests of the party elite and not the interests of an ordinary child in rural Zambia.

For this reason, I have been of the view that Zambia needs a new governance system that must prioritise development because democracy can be practiced in several other forms. Plural politics, in Africa, was not introduced to promote development and good governance.

It was a tool by our former colonial masters to put Africa in check. It has since lead to inefficient governments, endless power transitions and social chaos. It prioritizes the immediate needs of politicians over those of a nation united with a purpose to develop.

Government suspended the Bill 10 debate because of the two cases of COVID-19 in the country. Despite the fact that the UPND was not debating Bill 10 in Parliament, it chose to hold a Press Briefing on Bill 10 when government had switched to a national emergency. This is not the democracy we need to serve the people.

Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa
Global Capstone Centre
For Leadership Development
WhatsApp: +260 977 430702

Copyright © 2020 ZR.



  1. Chamu

    Oppositions will function normally in a country where there is normal governance of a country. When the ruling party is hell bent on forcing through a constitutional bill at all costs using all underhanded methods such as bribing MPs , then a functioning opposition resorts to all legal means at their disposal to push back. By the way, a UPND says he has recordings of PF trying to bribe him – so why don’t they call for his arrest if it isn’t true? Constitutional issue should be done through building consensus – not through narrow-minded, arrogance of numbers approaches.

    • Masauso Phiri

      If one has evidence of corruption,let that person report to ACC

  2. Chamu

    By the way, I find it hard to believe that government suspended Bill 10 due to COVID-19 as Hon Mwiimbu had raised the COVID-19 issue before the Vice President did and there was no concern shown. They did it because they (together with the speaker) were caught in a catch 22 situation where their hypocrisy was about to be exposed and they needed time to regroup and re-strategise. Infact, PF had just earlier announced that they were going ahead with their provincial meeting. In my opinion, the opposition are fighting hard in very difficult circumstances against an increasingly corrupt and tyrannical regime. They should be commended.

  3. Uluse pitty

    Tell Pf to tame their unruly cadres who have the habit of disrupting important national debates, then only are we going to enjoy democracy

  4. Jon

    Democracy is being killed in Zambia. What system of governance are we going to use in our country ? I dread to imagine!

  5. CK

    What you people should understand is that the constitution is here to stay while political parties come and go,Zambians!

  6. Jms

    Do people recall that,Fred membe has socialist party, another one has capitalist party showing us that although we may mean to be a democratic nation we are behind in many areas which means unless we find a person who is fearful in thoughts by bringing good governance in the country. And if you think opposition is their just to oppose you are mistaken. Thats why we condemn some of you reporters who don’t be fair in reporting but you just attack, shame upon you. We need education to come back.

  7. Frank Chombela

    This a one-sided polemic which doesn’t help change the status quo. Feature an interview with the other side because u know where to find John Sangwa, Linda Kasonde, Muna Ndulo, Elias Munshya, Rodger Chongwe etc. These are informed people who know wht they’re talking about.

  8. Martha

    By the way I have found it hard to believe that government, just see what you can consider

  9. Abapondo

    So, is it true that they sold ZNBC, ZAFFICO? If not then it means they considered it. In Bemba they say, icushi cifuuka apali umulilo. So if a rumor like that surfaces then there might be some truth in it. Whatever the opposition does has some ground in it.

  10. Masauso Phiri

    I see it as a deservice to ordinary Citizens, from referendum in 2016 upto now it has all been misleading acts by opposition,walking away from what and what is the end result ..good for the nation or what.My question is if John Sangwa decided to look the other way or walk away from debating the Articles and clauses in a manner he did would such an impetus on the matter be so as it is today.He decided to take the bull by it’s horns against all odds..this is what is expected of the MPs,fight it out in parliament and constitutional court if need be.This walking away will lead you to a dead end,, I pray you will, one day, walk away from your constituency for good

  11. Me and my family

    I support Bill 10,am a patriotic zambia and i know how to read and write. We have disabled people in our families let constitution represent them. Those against Bill 10 let them stone disabled people. We are in support of Bill 10.

  12. Antonio j Nyirongo

    Kikikikikiki some people awe mwandi

  13. Chendabusiku

    There is no opposition in Zambia what we have are opportunists. I had hoped that the young men such as Harry Nkombo would have the necessary Grey matter to attract adequate support to lead the party but after listening to his submissions in parliament I can safely say he is not what I thought he is. Is there any reason why any political party should site obeying of the law of the land. You just have to abide, this is a glibal crysis. UPND needs fresh blood with a 180 degree thinking. Hakainde in his current form and thinking cannot a d will not win the majority vote.

  14. Angoni

    The only way the truth will be known about bill 10 is when those that claim that biil 10 is bad will stand shoulder to shoulder with those that support bill 10 on the floor of parliament and debate it with open minds unlike now where the UPND merely follows there under 5 leader who has never held any elective national position apart from a party position. UPND must stand and debate bill 10 on the floor of the house(Parliament) and not on prime tv or any other media house. Zambians want hear their MPs debate bill on the floor of the house (Parliament) and not in hotels or press conferences. UPND stand up and be counted otherwise be thrown to the dustbin of Zambian politics.

  15. Wise man from east

    This upnd part it is the one making zambians to suffer,i think they know they going to loose that debate in parliament that is why they want to use court to defend them.look people of south,west and northwest you voted for these people to represent you people in parliament and not obeying hh, if they walkout in parliament it shows they are not represent you but their part,be wise next time you people,upnd mps oppose in parliament not in court and on radio or tv no that wat people vote for you to debate.

  16. Amos Paul Lukwesa Mubongi

    I concur with you comrade. On the contrary, the principal aim of a political party is to for government, not that which you had put in the article.

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