ZAMBIA’S founding fathers and mothers fought and worked hard to ensure that the nation not only attained the desired unity needed for socio-economic development, but also that citizens could embrace the spirit of patriotism and hard work.
These virtues, among many others, served as a precondition for love that must exist among different people within the country, as well as sustenance of peace required for meaningful co-existence and economic progress.
It follows, therefore, that as the founding fathers coined the motto ‘One Zambia One Nation’, they strongly believed that, regardless of one’s tribe, race, creed, social status, etc., as long as one was in Zambia, he or she was Zambian.
This is what it should be like in today’s rich democratic dispensation: irrespective of one’s political affiliation and wherever one is based within Zambia, that individual should enjoy all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
However, the spirit of One Zambia, One Nation has suffered some measure of erosion through violence and tribal sentiments by some disgruntled citizens. And from the recent revelation by the Commission of Inquiry into Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence, it is clear that lies among politicians during campaigns pose a great danger to the national cohesion that we have enjoyed as a people for decades.
In Kaoma, Western Province, many people were ‘forced’ to believe that President Edgar Lungu was from the northern region of the country. This was because of some opposition politicians’ obsession with regional politics, which they hoped would ensure victory for them in the 2016 general elections.
The sad part, in particular, was the insistence that one region had dominated the political landscape at presidential level.
But, if Zambia had to embrace the unity of purpose to attain Independence, citizens should appreciate the fact that a leader can be from any part of the country. Therefore, it should never be a problem at all for the people of Luapula to vote for and work with a person from Western Province or Muchinga Province, for instance; or people of Northern Province voting for a presidential candidate from North-Western Province. It should all depend on the caliber or qualities of the person of their choice.
Telling people lies about others will not develop the country. The electorate always expect to hear what politicians will do regarding issues that affect them once they are in power. They are keen to know how access to education and health will improve if elected. The public wants to know how a prospective government will create a conducive environment for businesses to flourish and how youth employment will be enhanced. They want to be certain of economic progress in the country.
It is ideas such as those related to improved agricultural productivity that farmers in Mansa, Kalomo, Petauke, Kapiri Mposhi, Solwezi, among other areas, would like to share with those running for political positions.
Mining, aquaculture, industrialisation, real estate, improved fishing industry, empowerment of small and medium enterprises and women’s groups are some of the talking points about policy matters expected from our politicians, whether from the ruling party or the opposition.
Cheap lies such as one region risking being ‘cut off from the rest of the country’ if they voted for the ruling party shouldn’t have been taken seriously by well-meaning citizens because they (lies) could only alienate people from the rest of the country.
Actually, as brothers’ keepers in this journey towards development, we will do well to always encourage one another to stand by our godly principles based on love. Then unity, hard work, tolerance for one another and respect for human rights shall be fully realised. We need a progressive, peaceful Zambia.