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
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