We are not surprised that Edgar Lungu’s decree on compulsory HIV testing has come under a lot criticism and opposition from the Human Rights Commission and others.
Fundamental decisions affecting the lives of our people must be discussed with the people. It is not wise to rule by issuing decrees – no matter how just and accurate they may be.
Edgar singlehandedly decided to make HIV testing mandatory and declared that there would be no discussion allowed. We say singlehandedly because discussions with his employees in Cabinet are discussions with himself. Edgar must realise that issues of HIV/AIDS are really complex. They call for the full understanding of the people, for broad discussion.
We believe that when best opinions, the opinions of the most competent men and women, the most capable men and women, are discussed collectively, they are cleansed of their vices, of their errors, of their weakness, of their faults.
Historically, the claim of being right and ruling by decrees has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.
It’s always important to mull over things and consider the feelings of the people. And why should those who think that they have the best ideas, approaches on HIV/AIDS not want them broadly discussed? Having decisions made in secret deals and forcing them on the people won’t do. There’s always need to consult those who will be affected.
And democracies make several assumptions about human nature. One is that given the chance, people are generally capable of governing themselves in a free and fair manner. Another is that society comprises a great diversity of interests and individuals who deserve to have ther views respected. In this way, democratic discussions act as filters through which the vocal demands of a diverse populace pass on the way to be coming public policy.
There is need to consult people and as Ernesto Che Guevara remarked,
How easy it is to govern when one follows a system of consulting the will of the people and one holds as the only norm all the actions which contribute to the well being of the people.
We therefore urge Edgar to reverse his mandatory HIV testing and initiate dialogue, discourse. One doesn’t study calculus before studying arithmetic.