Saturday, January 26, 2008

Base your noble deeds on noble sentiments

Base your noble deeds on noble sentiments
By Editor
Saturday January 26, 2008 [03:00]

It will be very difficult for anyone to believe Vice-President Rupiah Banda's attempt to explain why the drainage in Kanyama is only being cleared at a time of a parliamentary by-election campaign. Yes, it is a good thing to clear drainage in Kanyama. This is how things should be. But Kanyama is not the only affected compound in Lusaka. There are many other areas that are equally flooded.

Why are they not being treated in the same way as Kanyama? Or why didn’t the exercise of unblocking drainage start elsewhere other than in Kanyama?

It is clear that what the MMD government is doing in Kanyama does not stem from noble sentiments or ideas. They are doing so out of a desire to win the support and votes of the people of Kanyama in next month’s parliamentary by-elections.

It is sad when human beings draw away from the honest goals they proclaim to be seeking and let themselves be influenced by the desire for power. What the MMD government is doing in Kanyama is to destroy the values of honesty, accountability and transparency which it has been advocating. What is happening in Kanyama amounts to corruption, to fraud.

And Vice-President Banda should realise that they are making a big mistake by failing to see the consequences of what they are doing in Kanyama and that they are not doing the right thing to reach the goals and purposes they have been proclaiming – which, of course, were necessary and legitimate.

What they are trying to do in Kanyama is to manipulate public opinion and influence the people’s thinking. This is not the way to promote democracy. What the MMD government is doing in Kanyama is to prostitute the electoral process and falsify the will and interests of the people so that they win the by-election. This is fraudulent and treacherous politicking. They are trying to mislead the ignorant into supporting them.

What this teaches us is that the exercise of power must be the constant practice of self-limitation and modesty. It may be very difficult to legally challenge the MMD for electoral fraud and corruption over practices of this nature.

But we know that what they are doing is not noble, does not arise from noble sentiments, it is simply a desire to hoodwink the people so that they can vote for them. But to deceive the people, to delude them with false illusions can only result in the worst consequences.

It is very important that whatever elections we have should be conducted in the most fair way. Elections are very important and key to the progress of our country because they are the central institutions of democratic governance. We say this because in a democracy, the authority of the government derives solely from the consent of the governed.

And the principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections. We accept that the MMD, as the party in power, may enjoy the advantage of incumbency, but the rules and conduct of election contest must be fair.

This is the only way citizens can be confident that the government does, indeed, rest upon their consent. If those in power perceive elections as nothing more than a forum which they can manipulate to keep their hold on power, then we will not achieve much in our endeavours to govern ourselves in a manner that will serve our aspirations for personal freedom, economic opportunity and social justice.

What the MMD government is doing in Kanyama brings into question the fight against corruption. There is no way they can manage to call others to virtues which they themselves do not make an effort to practice.

We can only call on the people of Kanyama on that day – the day of the parliamentary by-election – to vote wisely and only for the person who is known for his or her honesty, ability, dedication, and concern for the welfare of all the people.

Let all those who will vote in the Kanyama by-election be guided by noble values and ignore those who are trying to manipulate them for their votes. We shouldn’t forget that by-elections like this one are a very important exercise for promoting justice, development and community among all. We should regard elections as a way of building up society for the common good.

It is therefore important that those who engage in electoral practices that appear to be corrupt should be repudiated and not voted for.

We would like the MMD government to simultaneously extend the drainage unblocking exercise they are carrying out in Kanyama to other compounds of Lusaka and the country at large. If this is not done, it will be very difficult for them to convince anyone that what they are doing in Kanyama although necessary is not based on evil and criminal intentions of sentiments – to deceive the people of Kanyama and influence the way they will vote in next month’s parliamentary by-election.

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