ZAMBIA Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga says if the national dialogue does not address the deep-rooted inequalities and discriminatory attitudes and practices that exist, it will be an exercise in futility.
In a press statement, Mulenga stated that strengthening of electoral laws, reviewing the Constitution, promises of poverty reduction, handshakes and hugs by politicians “in front of a myriad flashing lights from cameras” may not suffice for national dialogue.
“But if the basic principles of human rights, non-discrimination and removing barriers that perpetuate inequalities are ignored or paid a cursory glance in this dialogue, a few years from now Zambians will be having another dialogue,” Mulenga stated.
“The root causes of the estrangement Zambia finds itself in and needing a national dialogue and reconciliation to resolve is the societal acceptance of the pervasive inequalities and prejudices that manifest in discriminatory practices that strangely as a society we find socially acceptable and gloss over as normal.”
MUlenga lamented that Zambians had witnessed and continued to witness politicians treat their opponents as less than human and “think it is Ok because to them it advances their agenda of getting power or maintaining it.”
“Who did not read Mumbi Phiri’s media statement accusing HH to being a misogynist because of ‘where he comes from?’ Who did not hear the civil servant Amos Chanda tell Mr [Chishimba] Kambwili, ‘ulimbwa iwe, ulimbwa?’ Who did not hear the Head of State announce the now infamous ‘six out of 10’ thieves being us Bembas?’ Who did not listen to Mr Kambwili before 2016 elections stating that ‘in some areas our President Edgar Lungu was getting 20 votes against 16,000 of HH. This shows selfishness. I don’t hate Tongas but I hate their manners of wanting the Tonga for a Tonga?’”
Mulenga further asked who did not hear religious affairs and national guidance minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili “unashamedly and ridiculously” claim that Jesus Christ is partisan and was onboard the PF boat.
“How many times do we hear Mr Kambwili call the Head of State a thief and corrupt without giving us Zambians the much needed proof but always promising to spill the beans which somehow never gets spilled?” she stated.
“As for the vitriol bombasts and insults that spew from the PF media director’s mouth! One would be forgiven for thinking that the PF media policy is drafted by the ruling pigs in animal farm. Prejudices leading to discriminatory tendencies are learnt and internalised as we are being socialised from childhood into adulthood.”
Mulenga stated that it was ZCEA’s fervent hope that, as per the current Constitution’s requirement under Article 9(2), the President once a year, reported to the National Assembly on the progress made in the application of the values and principles.
And Mulenga stated that the problem of the underlying barriers created by the patriarchal nature of the Zambian society prevented females to ascend to their greatest potential.
“Oh yes, we have the tokenistic appointments of one or two women to decision-making positions laughably disproportionate to the national gender ratio and whose elevation by men get heralded in the media as a big achievement forgetting that if gender inequalities were not pervasive in our country such appointments would be normal and not be remarkable as is currently,” she stated.
Mulenga hoped that the unity that Zambia wanted to see emerge from the dialogue would be driven by a two-pronged holistic approach that “objectively and squarely confront the inherent inequalities in our society.”
Meanwhile, Mulenga stated that the inequalities between people living in the rural and urban areas in the country was nothing but shameful.
“How can geographical location make such a marked difference between people of the same country in the 21st century?” asked Mulenga.