Editor's Comment

Give holiday its meaning

FOR many Zambians, today and tomorrow are merely part of a ‘long holiday’.Others call it a ‘long weekend’ and ‘Trade Fair holiday’.
Few know these as ‘Heroes’ and ‘Unity’ days and of these few, even fewer commemorate the days for the reasons they were declared holidays.
This has to change. Zambia must fully restore the meaning of these two holidays and commemorate them as such.
Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda resonated with the wind of change by accepting to revert to plural politics.
Until 1991, Zambia had been a one-party state under the United National Independence Party (UNIP) following the Choma Declaration of 1973.
The Choma Declaration came about following political tension emanating largely from tribal inclinations.
Dr Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, leader of the African National Congress (ANC), signed the Choma Declaration on June 27, 1973 to preserve peace and unity.
However, citizens became disenchanted with the governance of the country under a one-party state, and with the wind of change blowing in Eastern Europe, the writing was on the wall that Zambia had to follow suit.
There was euphoria when Zambia reverted to multi-party politics as UNIP, the post-independence ruling party, was swept out of office by the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
However, the MMD gave birth to a lot of political parties, among them the Patriotic Front and the United Party for National Development (UPND).
While the country has fully embraced multi-partism, inter- and intra-party violence is undoing the benefits of democracy.
While citizens are eager to exercise their democratic rights by ushering into office their preferred candidates, intimidation and violence have tended to undermine the spirit and essence of elections.
Currently, Zambia is in the process of identifying candidates for positions of mayor for Lusaka, the capital city, as well as council chairpersons for Chilanga and the newly-created districts of Chasefu, Chipangali, Kasenengwa, Lumezi and Lusangazi in the Eastern Province. The ongoing campaigns are a litmus test to the unity this country has experienced since 1964.
As Zambia commemorates the Heroes and Unity days, we urge citizens to reflect on the lives of the country’s patriots who gave virtually everything to secure the political independence the country is enjoying. It is not a secret that Zambia has been a haven of peace for decades and it is imperative that Zambia safeguards this status.
Zambia has to uphold the peace and unity in honour of the country’s freedom fighters. We call upon political and religious leaders to become the modern-day heroes by preaching peace and denouncing political violence.
Every Zambian has an obligation to continue making the country’s peace and unity its national identity. Our society’s functions have been based on its unique identity as a peaceful unitary state.
Under UNIP, the country’s 73 tribes lived in peace and harmony and provided an environment where citizens lived and worked together in any part of this vast country. There was mutual respect and mutual harmony.
What has gone wrong? Is it the hunger for political power? Should that hunger sacrifice the country’s peace because a few people’s egos should be met?
May the Heroes and Unity holiday provide a reflection for a return to the glorious days that were characterised by tolerance for divergent political views.
We are ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ – a country that should not be divided by divergent political views.

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