Patriotic Front central committee member Mwenya Musenge says as a governing party, they should begin to seriously reflect on their conduct.
Musenge says the Patriotic Front must make serious reflections over certain decisions it was making.
“We are always taking each other to court, fixing one another and that is not the spirit we all want to see. It is important that we seriously look at this and see how we will get back to the right direction. When President Lungu took over in 2015, he took all of us closer to God with prayers for rain, unity, love and so on and so forth. The President has gone further to even start the construction of the Cathedral and a prayer day dedicated for the nation in the month of October. When you look at all this, and compare it with what is happening now, the kind of hostility…how do you then align or relate the two situations? It is very painful for even me a senior member of the Patriotic Front to come out like this because indeed what is happening is not right,” says Musenge.
“The precedence we are setting right now is not right, it is taking us in a wrong direction…It is high time we started making serious reflections about our conduct as a governing party. If people are not careful and continue on the path of intolerance, lives will be lost. It will be very difficult to foster unity when some sections of society are complaining about persecutions. The crack is getting bigger and by the time we will come to realise, it will be too late. We have to listen to each other, we have to be talking. It is important to put heads together and come back together as one family, as one nation. This thing of hurting each other is not making things happen.”
Musenge is certainly talking sense. But he is probably talking to himself and those far away from the key leadership of the Patriotic Front. Those at the heart of the Patriotic Front leadership have a very different political outlook. There is Edgar Lungu’s political philosophy of “crushing like a tonne of bricks” anything and everything that tries to stand in their way. It’s their way and nothing else that should prevail. And they are ready to do anything to get the outcome they want. In the process, they have ended up destroying the integrity and capacity of all state institutions, including the judiciary.
Yes, there may be a few people who think like Musenge in the Patriotic Front, but the great majority of those who are at the centre of that party’s leadership and power are more inclined to the “crushing like a tonne of bricks” approach to politics.
And Edgar has constructed both a party and government leadership team that meets this outlook. Wherever you turn in the party and government leadership, it’s corrupt, intolerant, violent, heartless, hot but empty heads that dominate. There are very few individuals one can try to reason with in Edgar’s Patriotic Front and government leadership. Even those with a bit of conscience are scared to be seen to be different and reasonable. For them, being in power means doing as they please and governing to the exclusion of all others. They don’t seem to understand that in a democracy, being in power is not merely winning an election and forming government, but to govern in a way that respects and enhances the rights and dignity of others. And the first thing is to be honest with yourselves as leaders. You can never have any positive impact on society as leaders if you are not honest with yourselves. Great leaders are all people of integrity, of honesty, of humility.
Democracies are not so easy for the leaders to govern – they have many challenges. But the challenges of a democracy should not be addressed by altering, downgrading the democratic tenets. When it is obvious that your political goals cannot be reached, don’t alter the democratic tenets, alter the measures, the political programmes.
It calls for a lot of humility to govern a democracy. Arrogant politicians who want to be treated like demi-gods cannot be good leaders for a democracy.
Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues in a democracy.
What is dividing Zambia today is not necessarily our ethnic diversity or otherwise; it’s our attitudes and commitment towards democracy which divide us. The division is between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.
Democratic governance calls for tolerance, dialogue and continuous consensus building. Those who want to crush others “like a tonne of bricks” can’t lead a democracy because this is a system anchored on dialogue and tolerance.
And to have faith in the power of dialogue is to believe in the promise of humanity. Genuine dialogue is just this sort of profound life-to-life interaction.
Everything begins with dialogue. Dialogue is the initial step in the creation of value. Dialogue is the starting point and unifying force in all human relationships. Dialogue is an adventure available to anyone. And sometimes it’s an adventure whose outcome can change history. As Woodrow Wilson said, “The whole purpose of democracy is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man…The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
Dialogue is not some simplistic assertion of one’s own position, nor is it necessarily about persuading others to one’s point of view. Dialogue is about demonstrating respect for another’s life, and being determined to learn when confronted with differences in personality and perspective.
Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.
The best way to solve problems and to fight against conflict is through dialogue.
Dialogue is about persuasion rather than ultimatums, threats, brutality. That is the path Musenge is urging the Patriotic Front leadership to embrace. Democracy is about the dialogue; protest is about initiating the dialogue and freedom of speech is about respecting each other’s dialogue. And these are very important tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.
The fabric of human life is woven with relationships. Once we thematise the importance of dialogue, the multiplicity of ongoing and created situations in which dialogical skills can be nurtured abound. But this requires us to slow down and turn toward each other, having a clear sense of the relationship between our current footing in dialogue with one another and the future we are trying to create. The nurturing of dialogical capacities is essential to our nation’s peace and stability.
It is only through dialogue, deep listening, and passionate disagreement that we find our way to something larger than a singular and isolated point of view.
Democracy requires citizens to see things from one another’s point of view, but instead, we’re more and more enclosed in our own bubbles. Democracy requires a reliance on shared facts.
If you start dialogue with the assumption that you are right or that you must win, obviously it is difficult to dialogue.
Politicians like Musenge deserve our respect and support. It takes a lot of courage to say what Musenge is saying. As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
The reality of living in the same country is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist in this territory. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interests, whether between individuals or political groups, is through dialogue.
We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together, we have to dialogue. And dialogue is not some simplistic assertion of one’s own position, nor is it necessarily about persuading others to one’s point of view. Dialogue is about demonstrating respect for another’s life, and being determined to learn when confronted with differences in personality and perspective. Again, if your approach is to sort out, fix others, crush those who don’t agree with you “like a tonne of bricks”, then you can’t dialogue. And if you can’t dialogue, then you can’t function in a democracy. If you can’t function in a democracy, where can you function? In a dictatorship, tyrannical regime! This is where Edgar is today – dictatorship, tyranny!