Friday, June 29, 2012

Explain what you are doing!

Explain what you are doing!
By The Post
Fri 29 June 2012, 13:25 CAT

TO govern is to communicate. It is not enough for those in government to quietly do their work. As representatives of the people, those in government need to continually explain to the people they represent, as far as possible, everything they are doing.

This is the only way our people can participate in government programmes, in governing their country. Whatever the level of their contribution, a healthy democracy depends upon the continuing, informed participation of the broad range of its citizens.

The essence of democratic action is the active, freely chosen participation of its citizens in the public life of their community and nation. Without this broad, sustaining participation, democracy will begin to wither and become the preserve of a small, select number of groups and organisations.

But with the active engagement of individuals across t spectrum of society, our democracy can weather the inevitable economic and political storms that sweep over every society, without sacrificing the freedoms and rights thehat they are sworn to uphold.

Active involvement in public life shouldn't be seen just to be about elections and the struggle for political office. Citizen participation in a democratic society is much broader than just taking part in elections. Of course, the electorate is the ultimate custodian of its own destiny. And as such it must ensure its function. At a minimum, citizens should educate themselves about the critical issues confronting their nation.

Democracy, as Abraham Lincoln once defined it, is government of the people, by the people, for the people. This means that governments should be as closely linked to the people as possible, arise from the people, have the support of the people and devote itself entirely to working and struggling for the people and the people's interest; it means a government in which all the people participate.

Our government is doing many things but it is not explaining much to the people what it is doing. It seems as if our people's participation in the governance of their country ended on the day they cast their votes. But democracy does not begin and end with elections. It means continuous participation of the people in everything that the government is doing on their behalf. This is the true meaning of democracy.

It is a growth in the confidence in the power of ordinary people to transform their country, and thus transform themselves. It is the growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding, creating together. It is a growth in fraternal love. The greatest mistake this government is making is to think it can go on doing things without explaining to the people what it is doing.

People in Kaputa want to know what the government is doing in Sinazeze; people in Chavuma want to know what the government has done or is doing in Sindamisale. But today the great majority of our people don't seem to understand, don't seem to know what their government is doing or where it is headed, where it is going.

And no one seems to be taking the trouble to explain. Of course, some things the government is doing are not going well and probably there is fear or reluctance to explain that which seems to have been born twisted. It may be politically dangerous to explain to the people things that are not going well but which the people expected to go well. However, it is still more dangerous not to explain.

There is no need for the government to, in any way, mask problems or difficulties, mistakes, failures. They should instead hide nothing from the masses of our people. Things are not going to be easy and no one should think that there will be easy victories to claim. And as we have stated before, nobody should think that things are going to be easy.

We must all be prepared to meet difficulties. We have difficulties now, and we will have even greater ones in the future, even if we do things the right way - and we should do them the right way, even if it calls for our greatest efforts.

Those in government may think if they explain a lot of things to the people, their deficiencies, weaknesses or failures will become known by their political competitors and will be used against them politically. Yes, those in the opposition will try to make political capital out of that, but where will it take them? The economic challenges we are facing will not be solved overnight. What the government needs to do is to explain everything to our people.

Zambians are very understanding people and they will understand the challenges the government is facing and why it may not be delivering certain things as quickly as it had promised. But we should also know that in difficult times like these, it is necessary to avoid unilateral judgements, excessive zeal.

And it is also necessary to watch out for those who are too demanding, the demagogic champions who tend to crop up in such situations in order to divert attention from their own faults and weaknesses and pretend to be demanding when they are really opportunists trying to avoid being called on to account for themselves. There is need for our people to be demanding. They must demand to the utmost, but they must also watch out for those super-demanders. They must be firm but just in their demands.

Michael Sata needs to get back to the people in the way he used to do before the elections and explain to them what his government is doing and the challenges or problems it is facing. He has the capacity, the talent to do so but is not doing it.

The mobilisation of our people should not just be for elections. It must be a continuous process. The programmes the government is undertaking in many areas of human endeavour, including in the fight against corruption, need mass mobilisations.

This is so because without the support and participation of the great majority of our people in these programmes, nothing much will be achieved.
Michael shouldn't think simply because he has appointed people to head districts and provinces then his work is done and he can sit in Lusaka and do other administrative work.

Michael needs to visit as many places as possible, explain to the people what he is doing and engage them to make a contribution. And talking to the people will enable those in government to purify or refine their ideas, policies and programmes. The people will make a contribution to all that they are doing.

Those in government must be able to integrate themselves with the masses in all things. If they spend their whole lives sitting indoors and never go out to face the people and brave the storm, what good will they be to the Zambian people? None at all, and our people do not need such leaders in government.

What Zambia needs is a political leadership that listens attentively to the views of the people and lets them have their say. If what they say is right, they ought to welcome it, and they should learn from their strong points; if it is wrong, they should let them finish what they are saying and then patiently explain things to them.

Our politicians in government must be like seeds and the people must be like the soil. Wherever they go, they must unite with the people, take root and blossom among them. Our leaders in government should set an example in being practical as well as far-sighted. For only by being practical can they fulfil the appointed tasks, and only far-sightedness can prevent them from losing their bearings in the march forward.

Every politician in government must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the words and deeds of a leader is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. But again, this can only be known and understood if there is meaningful engagement with the people.

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