FOR every parliamentary political system to function properly there is need for the existence of an opposition.
In fact, genuine political opposition is an essential ingredient of democracy.
It is necessary insofar as tolerance among citizens is concerned, as well as to enable them to resolve differences, whether perceived or real, using peaceful means.
In a democracy, opposition parties ensure that politics does not cease because it is one way through which they provide checks and balances to the government, thereby advocating equitable development in every social and economic sphere.
Stanley Knowles, in ‘The role of the opposition in Parliament’, states that: “…the opposition should so conduct itself … as to persuade the people of the country that it could be an improvement on the government of the day.”
This is what the opposition in Zambia ought to do.
For them to prove to the masses that they are indeed the ‘government-in-waiting’, and that they are adding value to the current governance system and the country’s economic progress, they should be fully involved in developmental activities.
This is because matters concerning people’s well-being are beyond mere politicking.
The appeal by President Edgar Lungu when he paid a courtesy call on Chieftainess Mungule on Wednesday, that traditional leaders should persuade respective Members of Parliament (MPs) in strongholds of the opposition to work with Government, should be taken seriously by the opposition parliamentarians.
Zambians understand governance issues and they know that MPs, both from the ruling party and the opposition, are supposed to work together to develop the country. After all, it is these representatives of the people in respective constituencies who are expected to make representations to Government, and the President in particular, on behalf of their electorate.
Matters of special interest among voters, which include education, health, agriculture, improving economic infrastructure which is of great benefit to the public, and promotion of employment creation, among others, should be raised by MPs as they work hand in hand with Government.
An MP who wishes to make a long-term commitment to improving the governance of Zambia needs to be dedicated to serving the interests of the people they represent in Parliament. As they work with Government to foster development in their constituencies, opposition MPs will even prove themselves worthy of re-election in the future.
President Lungu’s words: “…we are governing with them [through them]” entail that opposition MPs are an important group in all matters of development and governance in the land. Once they realise this fact and come out of their ‘forced isolation’, it will be easy for them to work for the people as Government implements development projects throughout the country.
This way they will prove themselves fit for the task of being parliamentary representatives. They should also remember that during elections, constituents pass judgment on the performance of their MPs.
Therefore, the opposition lawmakers should not continue keeping a distance from Government, the President and development programmes aimed at improving people’s well-being.
Zambians expect their MPs to continuously lobby Government for funds meant to effectively implement various projects in their respective constituencies. Wherever divisions between Government and the opposition persist, the masses suffer as projects intended to improve their livelihood are frustrated through poor coordination and communication.
For example, well-coordinated programmes in the agriculture sector which demand efforts of both Government and MPs, with ‘open’ communication channels, will surely make it easy for the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit to take aid to any place where the current dry spell is affecting people, crops and animals.
The nation expects the opposition lawmakers to be magnanimous enough for the sake of national development.