Saturday, May 22, 2010

What kind of cadres do we need?

What kind of cadres do we need?
By Editor
Sat 22 May 2010, 04:00 CAT

IT is very strange that in a country that has declared itself a Christian nation people can be killed and maimed without anyone in power being concerned.

People were killed during the campaigns for the Mufumbwe parliamentary by-election. And many have been left maimed for life as a result of the politically motivated violence that rocked that very poor parliamentary constituency of our country. But to date we do not have any meaningful enquiry into what happened, into what led to that violence.

In a nation that has declared itself Christian, human life is something that should be considered to be very sacred, a gift from God to be highly valued from the moment of conception until death. One cannot claim to uphold the sanctity of life while at the same time placing the value of winning an election above human life. It would appear it was more important to win the by-election, at all costs, including the cost of human life and dignity.

There’s need for an independent and impartial enquiry into what happened in Mufumbwe. That was not a small thing because lives were lost and a large number of our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens have been left maimed for life. This needs to be investigated and the culprits brought to book. There should be no room for impunity where the life of any single citizen of this country is concerned.

It is clear that the police are not in a position to deal with this matter in a just, fair and impartial manner because they favour those in power and their cadres. The police are clearly on the side of the ruling party, its leadership and cadres. They get away with murder, with any crime they commit in the name of their party and its politics. For this reason, the police has lost the respect and trust of our people in matters where crimes are committed by those in power and their supporters. The only way left for the families of those killed to see justice and know what happened to their loved ones is through an independent and impartial special enquiry. It is also the only way those maimed for life may have a chance to know and face those who ruined their lives.

But we know that it will be very difficult for Rupiah Banda to set up such an enquiry because there’s already a prima facie case against him for inciting that violence. And the name of his chief vigilante, William Banda, has also been mentioned in connection with that violence. But nevertheless, those who seek the best for all our people should press hard for an enquiry to be set up so that there’s no repeat of Mufumbwe. If that is not done, we should brace ourselves for more Mufumbwes in the future, for veritable chaos as we approach next year’s elections.

We don’t favour violence. We hate it because it dehumanises human beings, it puts those who resort to violence next to animals. If we could bring about recognition and respect for the constitutional and human rights of all our people by peaceful means, well and good. Every decent human being would like to reach his or her objectives peacefully. But we are also realists. The only people in this country who Rupiah and his minions ask to be non-violent are those who exercise their democratic rights in our multiparty political dispensation to oppose them and challenge their hold on power. We have never seen Rupiah strongly oppose and pursue his supporters and cadres who engage in violence so that they can be brought to book and face the law. Non-violence is only preached to the opposition, its supporters and cadres, and we don’t go along with anyone who wants to teach our people non-violence until someone at the same time is teaching Rupiah and his cadres to be non-violent. What did anyone expect Hakainde Hichilema, his supporters and cadres to do in Mufumbwe when they were being attacked by Rupiah’s cadres ferried all the way from Lusaka for that purpose? And we say this given the experience of the Solwezi by-election where MMD cadres took over the policing and harassed opposition supporters and cadres with impunity. We believe opposition leaders and their supporters should protect themselves by any means necessary when they are attacked by Rupiah’s lawless cadres who today seem to be above the law – because even the police fear them, can’t touch them and run away from them when attacked instead of arresting them. They are trying to make the opposition the victim of every kind of discriminatory and unjust enforcement of the law, a permanent victim of ruling party violence. Then when they explode, you want them to explode politely! Why, you are dealing with the wrong people at the wrong time in the wrong way.

We need a different type of cadres for our political parties for our multiparty politics to flourish. We need to arrest the decline in democratic morality, ethics and values. This is causing a considerable strain on the moral standing of our politicians and their politics. We need to have cadres who conduct themselves in a civilised and democratic manner, cadres who realise that every citizen has a right to directly take part in shaping their own destiny, the destiny of their country. We need cadres who understand what it means to live in a multiparty political system and to operate in a plural society. We need cadres who are selfless and who are not taking or influencing decisions based on their own narrow interests. We need cadres who are able to subordinate their interests, including those of their political parties, to those of the nation.

We need cadres who understand the broader national and international situation and who understand the significance, relevance and role of our multiparty political system and of all the actors in it. We need cadres who view accountability to the people as an important duty of their political work. Cadres must be rooted and grounded in society and understand what their role is in transforming or democratising our nation.

We have witnessed the total absence of political education and cadre development programmes in all our political parties. There’s need for all our political parties to invest in cadre education and development programmes and strengthen their democratic political outlook. It is a crime to abuse young people by sending them on criminal political assignments. Buying young people Chibuku, Tujilijili and dagga so that they can have courage to engage in violence is criminal. It is evil to exploit the poverty, ignorance and greed of these youngsters. If these young people were given proper political education – by proper political education, we mean given a true picture of the political history of our country and the contributions each of us could make – we think many young people would be less violent in their politics, in their campaigns. They would have more respect for their colleagues in other political parties or formations. Their negative feelings would be at least partially negated and their feelings towards others would be replaced by a balanced knowledge of themselves. They would feel more like human beings. They would function more like human beings, in a society of human beings.

So it takes political education to eliminate violence. But the question is: who will be the teacher? Not Rupiah; not William because these two need to be schooled in civility and tolerance. What we are trying to say is that the choice of political leaders is something that should be done with a lot of care lest we choose people who think with their blood for leaders.

Many citizens of goodwill have warned the nation against the dangers of this intolerance and this drift towards politics of violence. It is said that “wise people walk the road that leads upward to life, not the road the leads downward to death” (Proverbs 15:24). It is also said that “sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later” (Proverbs 22:3).

There’s need for us to decide what type of Christian nation we want to build in this country that is increasingly becoming intolerant and violent; what type of multiparty democracy we want to construct in this country that is increasingly becoming intolerant of opposition, plurality and diversity; and indeed we need to ask ourselves: what kind of cadres do we need or don’t we need?

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