Columnists Features

Counselling centres for cadres – prayers, fasting not enough


THE clarion call for prayers for peace and love before and after the August 11, 2016 general elections has been heard by the majority of peace-loving Zambians but after attending and listening to some political speeches and slogans at some of the political rallies taking place around the country, it seems like for some politicians and their supporters the message has fallen on deaf ears and more has to be done to make some politicians understand that peace in our country is more important than winning or losing an election
One wonders what prayers it will take to heal the anger and hatred that some politicians have developed for their opponents.
Surely, is it in order for one to unleash all kinds of unprintable things against political opponents who are not there to defend themselves at your political rally. This is the more reason why we must go beyond just the prayers and fasting for our country to heal, repair and transform.
And for some Zambians, what has really happened to our sense of values and principles that we can cheer and clap for a politician who is passing all sorts of derogatory remarks against political opponents including the head of State? Surely, the head of State deserves our respect and for the sake of the many children who attend these political rallies.
While we ordinary souls pray and fast for peace and love before and after the August 11, 2016 general elections, non-governmental organisations and the church must intervene and set up counselling centres for politicians so that there can be healing, repair and transformation for our politicians.
It is obvious that political parties have no system to caution and counsel their colleagues on language to use at political rallies although some appear to be uncomfortable.
It is this language from politicians that can lead to the breakdown of the peace and love that our country has enjoyed for such a long time and is a source of admiration from other African countries.
Zambian politicians need healing, repair and transformation; this is where NGOs and the church should come in to fill in the gap.
NGOs and the church are in a better position to render counselling and clinical help to politicians who are failing to understand that it is their language and rhetoric that is fuelling the intolerance, hatred and fear amongst Zambians.
Politician counselling centres need to be established and managed by NGOs and the church in the same way that universities manage their student counselling centres all over the world. Student counselling centres at universities play a very important role of counselling and giving clinical services to many university students because the university environment is mentally, physically and psychologically very stressful.
Student counselling centres help students improve their personal, social, and academic well-being through professional psychological therapy and treatment. These help individual students to deal with problems in their studies, relationships, disappointments, family matters and other mental health and life issues.
Time has come to set up such facilities for politicians because the multi-party democracy environment in Zambia has become very stressful. There is a need to help politicians increase their self-understanding, reduce stress, isolation and provide them with support during difficult times such as election campaigns and results.
Politicians need to be helped to work through issues, develop strategies for overcoming disappointments, alleviate uncomfortable feelings and find options for managing symptoms of mental health.
NGOs and the church can help to provide professional compassionate psychological and psychiatric services to politicians so that they can make sound decisions and learn to accept the consequences of their decisions.
The events during the nominations week and current campaign period speak volumes about the urgent need for NGOs and the church to establish politician counselling centres. The only problem with some leaders of NGOs and the church in Zambia is that they have also become players in the political field rather than referees.
They also issue statements which just add fuel to the political tension in the country.
From the reports in the electronic and print media and family members, all is not well in the lives of many of our politicians and if not checked it will affect our multi-party democracy and ultimately the social and economic development of our country.
Many of these politicians need help to understand that the lives of millions of Zambians are more important than their individual political life and that politics is not a matter of life and death.
Surely there is a life away from politics. If one has had the chance to be deputy minister, minister, vice-president and president, is there a need to parade at opposition political rally and be subjected to all the dirty political mudsling?
We should learn from developed countries that have practiced democracy for centuries. The other week, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate was receiving private counsel from the highly respected former Secretary of State of the USA Henry Kissinger under President Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
On the other hand, another highly respected former Secretary of the USA under President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, has been giving private counsel to the soon to be declared Democratic Party presidential candidate Hilary Clinton.
These highly respected former Secretaries of State are not parading themselves at political rallies and calling opponents names or issuing unsubstantiated statements against the government of the day and creating political tension in the country.
The author is a PhD student in Management and Development Studies.

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