TRUE OR FALSE: A COMMENTARY

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Positive Vibrations no. 161

TRUE or false, is a very common multiple choice tag question. To defend truth in each day of life is everybody’s duty, yet many opt to either conceal or defend the truth.  Fact: a choice would have been made. It is a fact which speaks to character! So, is economising or bending the truth, part of character?

Let’s look at our Zambia and probably ourselves. Zambia has been in existence for 55 years.  Almost all this period, was under one President. To that extent, the first and founding President, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, more than any other President, had more time to make mistakes and learn from his mistakes and make amends. Unfortunately for Zambia, hostility, now abound, was not on President Kaunda’s side.

TRUE OR FALSE

It may be true or false that our founding President was the best leader that this country has had. However, if it is true and I think it is, that “the seeds of our destruction” were planted in the past, it may just be that some of today’s problems, which are wrongly attributed to President Edgar Lungu, actually are from the past, touching on Dr. Kaunda’s epoch.

But the past too, can boast of very good things away from planting problems of discord. For instance, the past under the leadership of Dr. Kaunda can boast of having effectively and systematically participated in the collective liberation of Southern Africa.

The past can also boast of inculcating a spirit of nationalism, and offering free education as well as several opportunities, in the spirit of “leaving no one behind.” Whether this is true or false, is best left to individual mental faculty and experiences. From my stand point, it is largely true.

It may be true or false that somewhat somewhere, we lost it. Yes, we are one country, but a country whose many nations face self-inflicted challenges.

POLITICAL STATEMENTS

Some statements from our leaders are purely political, injurious and I think that over emphasis on politics, such as boycotts and castigations, which in any case date way back, represent a puzzle of problems we must unbundle.

When the 1996 constitutional amendments were effected, there was a chorus of happiness in Parliament. The lead vocalist was a Female Member of Parliament who, just like her colleagues, was happy that the constitution had made it very difficult for the person of Dr.  Kaunda to participate in the 1996 elections. (The 1996 Constitutional amendments barred Dr. Kaunda from contesting. Strangely, “his” Party too, boycotted – confirming the fact of “ownership”!).

It is common legal practice and drafting that you do not make laws that target a particular individual or group of individuals. The intention of the law is to preserve one of the fundamental characteristics; and that is neutrality.

NATIONAL DIALOGUE FORUM

I do not know the contents and depth of the adoption process at the National Dialogue Forum but media reports, suggest a fair and balanced series of constructive engagements.

I actually see merit in classifying the NDF as the official and legal Forum provided for, to make way for parliamentary enactment as per legal requirement or procedures.

Politicising it in any way by whosoever, is neither here nor there because the nation must move on. Here, there must be no compromise.

It should not surprise anybody if there will be a debate on whether it is true or false that Parliament is the legal and legitimate body to pass laws. Not any other body! This is my well considered view, based on legal erudition.

UNFOLDING DEBATES

We await the unfolding debates to see if at all the NDF has met its objectives.  While it may be tempting to apply the true or false formula, on whether the debates at the NDF were holistic, I hold the view that the debates were holistic and all encompassing.

What is absolutely gratifying and a point of reference is that all Members of Parliament, without any iota of discrimination, were invited to take their rightful position.  I hold the view that opting not to participate or what we sometimes refer to as boycotting, is actually a form of Freedom of Expression and therefore passive participation.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

According to both domestic and international law, Freedom of Expression only attracts sanctions, when one is found wanting and against the law.

Away from truth or false, Parliament did its job. Highly commendable!  I see the NDF as a process that arrested the usurping of government’s legal duty to govern, and follow laid down procedures.

I am saddened that although Parliament passed legislation on the creation and operational steps of the NDF, some Members of Parliament opted to stay away from proceedings of the NDF.  Let me emphasise. The NDF is not the first political programme to be boycotted. It has happened before and the details, well documented.

It is these kinds of politics of deception (boycotts) which create unnecessary tension in the nation. Just because others boycotted, does not justify the continuation of political games.

Actually, this must be corrected immediately. We have a chance to put our political programmes back on track and staying away, as we now know, is totally unacceptable and counter-productive.

It is important to be clear on what are purely partisan politics and National politics, which guides the country, and transcends party membership.

It is therefore imprudent to characterise Constitutional making, which by its nature is political, with controversy (Personal one for that matter).  I am sure there are lessons to be learnt from previous boycotts.

THE CHURCH

Now we come to our revered Body of Christ, the Church.  The argument that the Church should have managed the dialogue process is as defective as the suggestion that the Church must replace the critical role of say the Human Rights Commission, the Examination Council of Zambia or an institution closer to the issues, the Electoral Commission of Zambia.

Those Clergy men and women, who feel so strong, are at liberty, to join any political party of their choice.

Some Church leaders, jumped the gun and became participants by “planning” to “pull the carpet” from the President Lungu-led government. I am happy though that the Church is participating in the NDC, through patriotic servants of God.

I am equally happy that the relationship between the State and the Church remains cordial and strong enough for the Church to play a role if and when it must, in the future. Remember, Church, depending, is every day!

Arising out of this, my appeal to the Church, since I am a strong congregant of the United Church of Zambia is that; please do not allow politicians, whether from the ruling party or opposition to “use/abuse” your divinely appointed position(s).

Why?  Your followers, the believers that sit in the pews every Saturday or Sunday – or everyday have earthly affiliations.  Congregants who do not support a particular political party will be unhappy, if their leadership is quietly understood or suspected to be championing the agenda of a political party.

This allegation, depending on the spectacles a reader is wearing, may be true or false. But we all know that no one is immune from rumour. As for me, I think some suspicions are well founded.

NATURAL JUSTICE

That said; natural justice must kick in to allow for both healing and self acquittal.

The role of the Church in matters of Statecraft is not to muddle and dirty the water. It is to provide counsel, in an atmosphere of peace and unity, without fear or favour. Most important, demonstrable fairness by according respect to authorities just like us believers, hold our clergy with reverence. (Therefore what the clergy preach on the pulpit is critical!)

Yes, in a manner of true or false, I have talked about the Church. But, it is only fair that I also make a comment on our politicians and not political parties because even in the matter above of the Church, it is not necessarily the body of Christ, but individual clergy men or women at issue.

Politicians must not, as a strategy abuse and use the clergy (Unless a Clergy man/woman decides so). By abusing the clergy, politicians will be planting such deep seeds of destruction and discord, thereby rendering the body of Christ irrelevant when it matters most. We all need the Church, but may be understandably, non-believers.

TEMPTATION

Temptation, generally visits individuals and clergy men/women, are no exception. Modest gifts to Clergy are acceptable. But gifts which influence their independence are tricky.  Every politician has a duty towards preserving and insulating our clergy from trappings of “decorum deficiency.”

This is extremely important because playing with the Church is not any different from playing with fire. Beyond the humanity of clergy, there is Godly power and the wrath which follows transgression!

What about the rest of Zambians? Are we just mere and little concerned spectators?  Let’s go back to the drawing table and interrogate conduct and comments that do not build but destroy.

The argument that “things are very bad” is very worrisome. Zambians voted President Banda out of office, when the economy was very strong. So, what do we want? Are we enjoying political conflict and discord? Political sanity is essential to focus on building our families and the Nation.

Choose: Political parties or Zambia? Zambia must win!

See you next week.   

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