In Zambian elections, political party candidates are not chosen on the basis of their intelligence. Presidents, members of parliament, councillors and now mayors are mainly voted into office because they are popular. It is for this reason that the public must consistently participate in the governance system of any democratic country.
Citizens should not just vote and wait for the next elections. After the voting, responsible citizens do have a duty and power to continuously engage their elected officials in fulfilling the democratic demands. That is why freedom of expression is very important in a democracy because the elected officials must communicate to the public and the public must be allowed to speak back to their government. This exchange of information in a democracy is called DIALOGUE. It is very important for dialogue to take place in any organised society because it is only then that ideas will flow from one end to the other.
For a government to effectively serve its people, it must first listen to the demands of the people and for the people to know the plans of their government, the public must also listen to the government.
In Zambia we are treated to speeches. The Republican President or any government official will only come to deliver a speech and it ends there. The media is geared to capture these government officials speak and when they are done, the cameras, note pads and ball pens are thrown back in the pockets. In many cases the public is denied a voice. So instead of a dialogue, we have a monologue. The public knows the plans of the government but the government has no idea what the people want or are thinking. The government is working on assumptions.
The help that President Edgar Lungu needs is not beating protesters. It is not disrespecting foreign diplomats. Silencing the voice of the public is actually endangering the presidency of Mr. Edgar Lungu. The President needs to listen to the people not just those on his payroll. If President Lungu is to make decisions that will be meaningful to the people, he has to listen to the people. My advise to my brothers in the PF, especially the youth leadership, is please ‘don’t silence the voice of the people’. The UNIP tried to silence us, they beat up whoever spoke up without knowing that they were insulating President Kaunda from the information that could have bettered his presidency. President Rupiah Banda also tried to silence us but he was making the same mistake. When President Banda was asked what he thought made the MMD lose the elections, he put it clear and plain: “We stopped listening to the people”.
We will continue to protest even when it appears dangerous. We will be protesting not because we don’t like President Lungu but because we want to talk back to him. We will continue to protest because we are part of this government. We do not need any one to pay us, this is a responsibility that was bestowed upon us the day Zambia was declared a democracy. Expressing ourselves is a right that no threats can take away. We are not calling for violent protests. We are innocent concerned Zambians, whose interests are building a great and prosperous country. If you strongly feel that beating us is the answer to our concerns, you are welcome, beat us but we will still speak out. We do not carry weapons of any sort but ideas and imaginations of a better country. It is a confirmed fact that you have enough power to do anything you like to us the innocent protesters but that is not enough to shut us down. You will beat and kill us but that would not be the end of a struggle for a better country.
To the new Zambian, we have a duty to build a greater and prosperous Zambia. We can only do this if we put aside our fears and embrace love for each other, our country and for our environment. Any man who fears another man offends God. Zambia was not founded on the principles of fear but of love, justice, unity and dignity. No amount of threats can change these pillars.
A better Zambia is possible only if we play our parts.