Thursday, October 29, 2009
Thu 29 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT
What’s wrong with us as a people? Leaders and cadres of the opposition Patriotic Front were yesterday complaining about the intolerance and violence of MMD leaders and their cadres. Today, the same Patriotic Front leaders and cadres are tolerating and inflicting similar violence on Faustina Sinyangwe.
Why? What is the difference between their intolerance and violence to that of the MMD? Have they never heard of that golden maxim: do unto others as you would like them to do unto you! Don’t they know that what is good for the goose is good for the gander?
Faustina had the right to be at the Civic Centre for the installation of the mayor of Lusaka. By virtue of her being a member of parliament for Matero, Faustina qualifies to sit on the Lusaka City Council as a councillor.
We know she has problems with the political party that sponsored her to parliament and has been expelled from the Patriotic Front, but she is still holding the seat as a result of incomplete legal process. But until that seat is legally declared vacant, Faustina has every right to function as a member of parliament for Matero and accordingly perform all the duties that go with that office.
And it doesn’t matter whether the leadership and cadres of the Patriotic Front like this or not. This is something they cannot do anything about until that position is altered legally.
And it is embarrassing for a political party that has been complaining so much about intolerance and violence from the MMD to be engaging in similar barbaric acts against Faustina. Their intolerance and violence, like that of the MMD leaders and their cadres, cannot be justified in any way.
We hope they will reach a stage when they realise that the use of violence against anyone is something that puts them next to animals. We also hope that one day they will realise that the spirit of Ubuntu, that profound African sense that we are human only through the humanity of other human beings – is not a parochial phenomenon, but has added something to our common search for a better country, nation.
We cannot build a civilised and united nation on the basis of intolerance and violence. If they want to mobilise every section of the population and win the 2011 elections, they can’t do it with feelings of intolerance and violence. The full enjoyment of our political rights or freedoms is only possible if these are enjoyed by all without intimidation or violence.
For as long as legitimate bodies of opinion feel intimidated and threatened, vile minds will take advantage of justifiable grievances to destroy, kill and maim. The reality can no longer be ignored that we live in an interdependent world which is bound together to a common destiny and therefore we need to be more tolerant and accommodating.
This is something that our politicians and their followers should understand. There is need for them to understand the context in which they are operating and act accordingly. We are no longer living like savages and barbarism is not an option because everything today is calculated on the basis of human rights.
Intolerance and violence have been weighed and found wanting. The important thing is to respect the human rights of others and give happiness to people. To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. To be civilised is to live in a way that respects and enhances the lives of others. And this is why respect for human life, liberty and wellbeing is enshrined as a right beyond the power of any force to diminish.
Intolerance towards and violence against those we don’t agree with is something that should be stopped and not left to the impulses of emotion and passion. There is need for all our brothers and sisters in politics to respect truth and their political opponents. They should learn to be tolerant with people who have different political opinions or affiliations. People can differ without being accused of being traitors, dupes, fools, criminals and so on and so forth.
We call on the leadership of the Patriotic Front and other political parties in our country to educate themselves and their followers to be tolerant. It is only in that way that our politics will remain civil and valuable.
There should be no talk of intolerance and violence. There should be no “no-go” places for anyone in this country. Let’s show our political maturity and sincere aspiration for peace and harmony anchored in justice. Let’s carry out our politics in a peaceful and honest way, devoid of any intolerance, violence and slander of our opponents. We should all be guided by the truth, integrity and justice.
It is necessary to remind all our politicians and their cadres that politics is for the good of people and the country, and not for a political survival of any individual or party. If the spirit of primacy of the common good were to animate all the political parties, we should not witness intolerance and violence, wrangling, bickering and power struggling which leaves the public dismayed and disheartened.
The quality of democracy is determined by the establishment of proper structures which facilitate freedom of thought, expression and association.
Intolerance and violence are more than want of love. They separate us interiorly from our neighbour.
They destroy the only sound basis of civil life. If they are directed against the person of our neighbour, it is always grievously sinful. Intolerance and violence grieve at the prosperity and rejoice at the adversity of others, exaggerates their faults and discounts their virtues. It wishes evil, it does not stop at malediction, calumny and detraction, but often assails the very life. Hence, the Bible says: “Whosoever hateth one’s neighbour is a murderer” (John 3:15). Again: “If a person says he or she loves God but hates one’s neighbour, that person is a liar” (1 John 4:21).
To live together peacefully and harmoniously, we must learn to tolerate the differences that do exist everywhere among us. And tolerance would become easier if we endeavoured to understand our neighbour and look with sympathy and broadmindedness on their way of life.
It is said that the peacemaker is the humble person who recognises one’s errors and humiliations, who knows how to apologise and how to recover and retrace one’s steps. The peacemaker has no enemies. Such a person does not know how to hate or to bear a grudge. Such a person knows how to forgive without giving offence. The peacemaker is the person who loves everybody.
The peacemaker, above all, is one who seeks solutions. Such a person dreams utopias, tries to persuade others to unite in hope and in a splendid vision for the future.
There can be no harmony and respect without justice. The use of unjust means of any form, politically or otherwise by anyone, is against justice.
We do appreciate that our police force is a very small one given the size of our country and its population. It is therefore very difficult for the police to accord protection to every citizen who needs it.
But this is not a good reason for the police to encourage “no-go” areas for any individual or groups of our people. We highly welcome Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde’s call to members of the public and indeed our political parties to learn to be tolerant and allow other people to speak their minds out.
This must be encouraged and defended because this is where the future of our country lies. It does not lie in encouraging intolerant and violent elements to operate with impunity. Everything possible should be done to defend every citizen to speak their minds without intimidation or harassment. Whatever it takes, the police should stretch itself to the utmost to ensure this is a reality in our country.
If a councillor cannot freely go to a council meeting under the protection of the police, where else can they go without being harmed? Faustina cannot live a life of house imprisonment out of fear of being harassed or beaten by Patriotic Front cadres.