“THE New Hope MMD believes in plural politics and the respect of divergent views. We, however, do not believe in the disrespect of the Presidency as an institution, which belongs to the Zambian people. The booing of President [Edgar] Lungu is most unfortunate as it sows a seed which shall germinate in future administrations. We must respect the Presidency regardless of who currently holds the office,” wrote MMD president Nevers Mumba on his Facebook page.
Like other upright Zambians, Dr Mumba is disappointed, and justifiably so, by the disrespectful manner in which United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres treated the head of State in Monze recently.
Dr Mumba says “the news coming out of Monze is deeply disturbing. It is disturbing because it diminishes who we are as a people. The news that alleged UPND members booed President Edgar Lungu is regrettable”.
Certainly any right-thinking Zambian and leader worth their salt would be perturbed by what transpired in Monze, where opposition cadres disrespected the Presidency with impunity.
It is expected that not everyone would be in support of the incumbent President because that’s what democracy is. It encourages divergent views and allows people to vote for their leaders of choice.
But after a President has been elected, it is an obligation of all those who voted in favour and those who voted against, including those who did not vote at all, to respect those elected to office.
This is because while some people may not like the occupant of the office, one thing should be understood that the Presidency is an institution which deserves to be respected by all citizens regardless of their political affiliation and opinions.
By virtue of his office and more than anyone else, Mr Lungu as President is the man who epitomises the country, its people and its beliefs as reflected in his roles enshrined in the Constitution and should therefore be accorded the due respect.
The President as head of State represents the will and wishes of more than 50 percent of the Zambian people who voted for him.
It is therefore a recipe for anarchy for any one individual or group to attempt to rip the Presidency of its decorum merely because they do not like the individual occupying the office.
The painful truth is that there can only be one president at a time and these come and go. So if the office’s decorum is lowered, the tag sticks on regardless of who occupies the office in future. It means the standard of the Presidency would have been lowered. It would not be surprising, therefore, if people from other countries, too, lost respect for the Presidency. Outsiders will not respect the Presidency beyond the standards set by Zambians themselves.
Needless to say, those with opposed views should not hide behind human rights to demean the highest office in the land.
Such behaviour should be condemned in the strongest possible terms because it goes against the African culture.
Africans are known to value respect for elders and those in authority.
And as a Christian nation, it is unchristian to disrespect those in authority. Romans 13:1-2 states that: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.”
Those who disrespect authority with impunity have set themselves up for judgment. And as rightly observed by Dr Mumba, every action taken by anyone in life is like a seed. It bears fruit in due season. If one plants a bad seed, the fruit follows suit.
Opposition leaders should, more than anybody else, guard against planting such seeds as people with ambitions to ascend to power. In an event that they ascended to power, they would not only reap, but bountifully so, for every seed planted. The very things they did to those who were in authority would be done to them but only in greater measure. This is a biblical principle that cannot be altered. Whether one believes or not, it is irrelevant.
Under the circumstances the natural reaction to how the President was treated would be retaliation. However, that is not the right thing to do either. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Actually, the PF have an opportunity to show political maturity by refraining from any revenge.
Choosing revenge would be lowering one to the levels of those that lack civility. Let those with eyes see and distinguish between those that are civil and those who delight in lawlessness.
Leaders have a duty to restrain their members from engaging in any violent behaviour.
That is why the UPND leadership should heed Dr Mumba’s advice and take responsibility by apologising to the President and the PF for the unruly conduct of their cadres.
Failing to do so would be endorsing hostility, which should never be guided as freedom of expression.
There is no shame in admitting a wrong. If anything, that would show maturity and foresight that is for the good of those that support you and those you want to win over.
This is what the Chief Government Spokesperson, Dora Siliya, did recently when some PF cadres harassed staff at a radio station which was hosting the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, virtually.
Ms Siliya condemned the harassment and underscored that such acts had no blessing of Government or the party.
This is as it should be. So leaders worth their salt should do the right thing – condemn all wrongs, including those committed by those that support you.