Editor's Comment

Stop the idle talk

FILE: FROM LEFT: Minister of Mines and Mineral Development Richard Musukwa, President Edgar Lungu, Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo, Munali Nickel Mine general manager Matthew Banda and Southern Province Permanent Secretary Mwangala Liomba at the mine. PICTURE: EDDIE MWANALEZA/STATE HOUSE

POLITICS in Zambia has generally abandoned the narrative on development and constructive issues. This is particularly so for some of those in the opposition.
This causes citizens to lose track of salient matters that require productive debate about issues affecting the country.
Much of the talk that the country busies itself with is irrelevant for national development and unity. This is because the chit-chat, as good as it may be for some occasions, is often tainted by half-truths.
The country is saturated by gossip to the detriment of socio-economic development.
Not that gossip has never been there. It was there during the era of Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and even Michael Sata as presidents.
But it has now escalated to endemic levels.
Previously, unjustified grievances or unmet needs, whatever they were, ended up in bars, sitting rooms or indeed in private chats.
But the advent of social media and radio stations, including some newspapers, has meant that citizens now have a wider platform through which to disseminate their opinions.
Unfortunately, the some of the opinions by people who oppose Government border not only on hate speech but insults.
Politics is a platform on which performers contest on ideas. This is what a common man on the streets wants to hear – alternative ideas, if any, to those offered by party in power.
By the time Government is coming up with a budget, a viable opposition or civil society should also come up with theirs so that citizens can compare and learn. Even the party in government could be compelled to make adjustments if the alternative ideas make better sense.
Similarly, with the ongoing debate regarding the amendment of the Constitution, citizens are expected to be offering alternatives not just down right rejection of the road map offered by Government.
Unfortunately in our case, this does not just end at debates but has escalated into insults – leaving sober-minded citizens perplexed.
Yet, given the magnitude of the country’s development needs, critics are expected to invest in providing checks and balances to the governing party so that areas that are seen not to receive development are attended to as well.
But instead of offering the checks and balances, anger has overtaken some opposition political parties who have resorted to insulting.
There is a reason for that: they expect the sitting President and his political party to respond to the insults and unjustified criticism.
But to do so may mean that the Presidency may be spending almost every hour rebutting critics. As a result, the President could be wasing invaluable time needed for focusing on the mandate to serve every citizen of Zambia.
The opposition seem determined to divert the President’s attention to matters that have little, if any, positive impact on social-economic development.
Thankfully, President Edgar Lungu has seen through this ruse, and has reiterated that his focus will remain on his mandate, and that is to serve the nation by getting it out of its challenges.
President Lungu has resolved, and rightly so, that he will not respond to insults, injustice and ill-talk, but will expend his energy to provide leadership and improve the lives of Zambians.
It is the right attitude. The best response is performance that puts critics to shame.
That is the way it is supposed to be. Let the work do the talking. Let President Lungu also urge party members not to respond unnecessarily to critics.
The President has a mandate to develop as well as unite the country. Give him space to do just that.

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