Saturday, April 21, 2012

Political violence

Political violence
By The Post
Sat 21 Apr. 2012, 13:30 CAT

IT seems the culture of political intolerance has taken root in our country.
This is a culture that was planted by the MMD for two decades. And 20 years is not a short period of time. This culture has become firmly deep-rooted. This culture has permeated all levels of our key political parties.

The seed of intolerance was planted by the MMD and found fertile soil in the other political parties that were victims of their intolerance. We are now at a stage where all our key political parties have acquired this culture and their cadres know no other type of politics except that of violence.

When the MMD was in power, those who were in the opposition took a defensive position to protect themselves from its violence. After some time, they also resorted to being offensive. Today the MMD is on the receiving end of the culture of violence and intolerance that they planted.

But this should not be allowed to continue. The change of government meant the change of everything that is undesirable. This culture of intolerance and violence is undesirable. It is the duty of Michael Sata to ensure that things change and change for the better.

It is good that yesterday he came out strongly against this violence and condemned it. There is need for a general political mobilisation against this violence. All political parties have to take a firm position on this issue. And this also includes the police. No form of political violence should be tolerated from any quarter.

PF cadres who now seem to be on the offensive should not be tolerated by the police the way the MMD cadres were tolerated by them. They have to be dealt with firmly. They should not be treated like they are part of the government. The nonsense of "boma this, boma that" we used to hear should cease. Hooliganism cannot be part of boma.

We ask the PF as a political party to seriously begin to address this issue because it will tarnish their image. This is not what PF stood for and this is not what PF should be seen to be standing for.

And moreover, what were those thugs doing at that funeral? Who invited them to go there? A funeral is not for thugs; it is for decent people who know how to mourn others and who know how to respect the dead. The confusion that characterised the funeral shows that our politicians have not yet grasped the full meaning of democracy.

It is not in our Zambian culture to turn a solemn funeral into a boxing arena.
For this reason, any responsible politician, especially those leading or wanting to lead them, should educate their cadres to desist from any form of hooliganism at a funeral. In fact, a funeral should be an event where healing of old wounds ought to take place.

It should be a place where sworn enemies can reconcile. A funeral should be a time for all of us to reflect on whether we are in good standing, because in Ecclesiastes 7:1, we learn that "a good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth".
Funerals deserve respect; they are very important occasions, more important than the days we were all born.

It is therefore amazing how some politicians can organise cadres into an army of hooligans to disrupt a state funeral service being attended by the head of state.

There is a lot that can be said about this, but it has already been said. All that remains to be said is that political leadership is required to deal with this issue.

And the existence of such high levels of political intolerance is a sign of leadership failure on the part of our political parties. It just goes to show how poorly they are organised and how poorly they are led. For some time now, we have been advocating the introduction of political education in our political parties.

Today, there is no political party that has discernible political education for its cadres. And this is what happens when you turn thugs, criminals and lumpens of all hues into political cadres without any serious effort to mould or orient them, to teach them the values that are necessary in a multi-party political dispensation.

We therefore urge all our political parties to quickly embark on education of their cadres so that they can become better citizens and better leaders. There is need for political parties to become proper institutions of democracy, where there is tolerance for members and non-members.

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