In a democratic country, opposition counts

Sinazongwe UPND member of parliament Gift Sialubalo says the Patriotic Front is failing to read between the lines that the opposition is there to offer checks and balances as such should not be regarded as enemies.

“Being an opposition lawmaker in Zambia calls for one to die a little for their people failure to which no tangible development can happen because the country’s political environment under the Patriotic Front regime is not fair. The problem with this Patriotic Front government is that when we speak as opposition, we are regarded as bitter and they don’t listen to us…. It is wrong for the Patriotic Front to mistake checks and balances for hate. Let coexistence be adhered to and not this environment where those in government do not want to listen to those from the opposition. An ideal political environment should be where those in government realise that we are in a multiparty dispensation and as such we must all be given equal opportunities even if we are opposition MPs because we are part of government as well,” says Sialubalo.

In a democratic country, opposition counts.

The opposition’s main role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to the public.

The opposition represents an alternative government, and is responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different policies where appropriate.

One of the most important jobs of the opposition is to constantly question the government. Any government has to remain answerable to the public at all times. And a good opposition can put the spotlight on serious issues and have them resolved quickly.

An active opposition will also debate legislation vigorously in the House and during the Select Committee process to ensure the legislation receives careful consideration.

Being in opposition does not mean that one is an enemy of the government who must be hunted down and fixed.

And being in opposition is not just about opposing the government. There are occasions when it may be necessary for the opposition to agree with the government. If the solution proposed by the government has wide support, and is soundly based, then it’s only natural for the opposition to agree.

Democratic systems function with checks and balances. They also rely on transparency, accountability and responsibility. In parliamentary democracies, the legislative body is the reassurance of checks and balances. Opposition parties are inseparable components of parliaments and they also function according to the rules of the game, reassuring the application of those checks and balances with their contribution to government policies and constructive criticism. Democracies become complete with opposition.

The Patriotic Front and its government have to learn to pay respect to the presence of opposition. They have to internalise and digest the fundamental principle of democracy that dictates that “winners do not and should not take all.” The result of the ballot box is only the indication that the election has turned out in favour of a certain political view and the policies that entail it are all embodied in the programme of a political party. But there are other views of other political parties and they also need to be taken into consideration. Failure to accept this is severe violation of the functioning of a democratic system and does not bring progress. It only brings backwardness.

The Patriotic Front government needs to discuss the challenges it faces with all the components of our multiparty democratic system. Opposition parties are those components. The government and the opposition may not agree on everything, but ideas can be clarified and improved to find a better way forward. That is what democracy is all about.

In a very candid way, opposition parties act as a watchdog!

Whenever the leaders of opposition find that the government is doing something wrong/unjustified, it emerges on the scene and protests against the government if required. The opposition leaders are always there to point out the blunders done by the government. They keep an eye on the government and its policies.

Presence of opposition is the beauty of democracy! Its presence indicates that the government cannot arbitrarily take decisions, because opposition is there to pull its leg and muster up the support against it.

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