VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga says despite the ongoing “flip-flopping” around dialogue, the matter remains inescapable.
He has also observed that Zambia’s older generation was a lot more passionate about serving the country than the current population.
“At the moment, it looks as if a very dangerous syndrome has taken over, the syndrome of me, myself and I. That is not patriotism but selfishness, narrow-mindedness,” Mwaanga said.
He observed that the only substitute to dialogue was dialogue.
Mwaanga emphasised that politicians needed to talk to each other.
“I have not been invited to this dialogue…. I see that there is a lot of flip-flopping going on on the issue of dialogue. What I think we probably need to do in terms of looking at the broader picture going forward…. I listen to a lot of leaders talking about this group is aligned to this and that,” Mwaanga said when a Mast editorial staff led by its editor-in-chief Larry Moonze and his deputy Speedwell Mupuchi paid a courtesy call on him at his Olympia home in Lusaka last week.
He added that countries that rejected dialogue faced grave danger in terms of the future.
“If our political leaders are not seen to be talking to each other [but] only talking at each other, mainly through the media, it is dangerous. It means that even when we have national issues which can be resolved in a peaceful manner, they essentially do make use of that avenue,” Mwaanga explained.
“The only substitute to dialogue is dialogue – we cannot avoid dialogue. Politicians must talk to each other. Why can’t they talk to each other? We can’t have politicians in our country who don’t want to talk to each other. Who the hell do they think they are? They are leaders because of people that follow them! Dialogue is absolutely essential; it is inescapable and dialogue has to be done.”
And Mwaanga reiterated his call that there should be qualifications for people to become Speakers of the National Assembly.
“At the moment, we have a Speaker of the National Assembly who has come from the judiciary. For me, that is wrong! Parliament is for parliamentarians,” Mwaanga indicated.
He proposed that a person who became a Speaker of the National Assembly must have had at least a minimum of five years as a member of parliament.
“You can’t have a Speaker who comes from outside [Parliament]. If you look at the previous Speakers; look at Nabulyato who was the longest serving Speaker; he was in Parliament before. Look at Wesley Nyirenda; he was a member of parliament before! You look at [Dr Fwanyanga] Mulikita; he was a member of parliament before! You look at Amusaa Mwanamwambwa; he was a member of parliament before,” Mwaanga said.
He wondered where the culture of: “just picking up people from everywhere” came from.
“Suddenly they go into Parliament and I hear from the rulings sometimes that ‘Oh! Don’t forget that I’m a judge’ I say what? If you are a judge, what the hell are you doing in Parliament? It is for parliamentarians! So, really these issues need to be tied up where there must be qualifications, for example, for the Speaker,” Mwaanga underscored.
On patriotism, he said his generation came from a freedom struggle background where: “we had to fight for things that we have today.”
“The older generation was a lot more passionate about serving the country than the current population. [But] at the moment, it looks as if a very dangerous syndrome has taken over, the syndrome of me, myself and I. That is not patriotism but selfishness, narrow-mindedness,” Mwaanga, whose lecture was centred on journalism, patriotism and international relations, said.
“That is the kind of belief that I hope we are going to get rid of in our society. If you go to the townships, whether it’s Mandevu, Chilenje, Mikomfwa in Luanshya, Kalulushi townships or wherever, Zambians live side-by-side with people from different parts of the country. You don’t hear that there is a tribal fight going on in the townships.”
He said it was not right that politicians were spearheading the depraved topic of tribalism.
“That is not right! The ordinary citizens are living side-by-side in peace. I don’t know how many weddings I have been to in the last few years; [there are] inter-marriages taking place. No one is talking about where people come from. The [ordinary] citizens still continue to brace One Zambia One Nation….” Mwaanga said.
“So, I want to give praise to the ordinary people of Zambia for they have been steadfast in upholding One Zambia One Nation, even in the townships where they live. I hope that the citizens will be steadfast in rejecting that agenda by politicians and say that ‘we are just Zambians at the end of the day. We want to continue living in peace, regardless of where we come from.’”
He recalled that during the struggle for independence, the issue of tribe: “didn’t really matter.”