Editor's Comment

Insults are alien to Zambian society

WE CONDEMN, in the strongest terms possible, the vulgar language attributed to United to United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-president for administration Geoffrey Mwamba.
We are taken aback by the audio, since it is just a couple of weeks that political parties agreed to engage in civil politics, to denounce violence and hate speech, and most importantly to religiously commit to peace.
It is heart-rending that the verbal abuse attributed to him comes at a time when people’s memories of what transpired at the interparty dialogue on political violence in Lusaka, convened by the Church, are as fresh as they were that day.
We also wish to recognise those of our society that have promptly denounced the utterances.
It is encouraging that Catholic priest Leonard Chiti looked upon the utterances as perturbing and disheartening.
“It is shocking and unnecessary that some of our senior political leaders are engaging in hate speech and vulgar language, particularly because of where we are coming from in the past two weeks,” he said.
We cannot agree more with Father Chiti when he says conduct such as the one in question is likely to cause and increase tension ahead of the August 11 general elections.
As Father Chiti wisely stated, any careless words, especially insults, would escalate into violence.
Words have power to motivate actions probably more than anything else in society. Our leaders lead by words. That is how they make manifestos.
Conversely, the same words have the potential to breed violence and much more. We in the media and other stakeholders such as the Church were recently alarmed at the rate at which political violence was breaking out.
Thankfully, the Church went further, as is expected of it, and brought political parties together in the spirit of brotherhood to denounce that diabolic thing called violence, which some people mistakenly, repeatedly, and unfortunately so, think could be a tool for the gaining of political mileage.
Our politicians should learn to keep their commitments on matters of public importance.
In fact, why are we bringing the standard so low since political leaders are not forced to serve the people? Out of their own volition, they become political leaders.
So, they are under obligation to pay the price and keeping commitments; we mean respecting commitments, is part of that price. It must be one of their sacrosanct attributes.
We wish to echo Father Chiti’s advice that our political leaders should endeavour to be people their followers, in this case Zambians, should easily look up to in terms of behaviour.
Father Chiti advised our political leaders thus: “As the Church, we believe that if you are there to serve, you need to ensure that your quality of leadership is pleasing to the people or meets their expectations.”
Hate speech is displeasing for many people, especially that different stakeholders, particularly political parties, have committed to peace in the run-up to the August 11 general elections.
We also wish to advise the Zambian electorate to reject any violent political leaders, as these may not be able to pay the cost of leadership, of which humility and civil language are an integral part.

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