Saturday, June 23, 2012

Opposing endlessly and senselessly

Opposing endlessly and senselessly
By The Post
Sat 23 June 2012, 13:25 CAT

FOR the opposition to win the trust, confidence and support of the people, they need to do more than just wagging their tongues. To be taken seriously, the opposition needs to start giving expression to convictions.

It is not just a matter of ganging up or congregating against the political party in power. The coming together of the opposition doesn't guarantee them any victory. Moreover, in the last elections MMD and UPND worked together but still lost the election.

And today all those opposed to the PF government have forgotten their mutual scores and have fallen weeping into each other's arms, raising the burner of hatred, bitterness and anger against the PF and its government.

It is not the number of political parties that come together that really matters. It is the quality of their work that counts most. The people are wise - wiser than some opposition politicians may think. Therefore, there is need to talk sense to the Zambian people and tell them the truth.

There is need for the opposition to realise that if they want to be respected and taken seriously by our people and win elections, they have to act up to different standards than the ones they have so far been following.

Let's face it, childish attacks on those in government and implausible promises don't win public confidence and trust. And they also don't win one elections.
It's only central and fundamental issues that will determine the outcome of the opposition's political work.

When a prolonged, stubborn and heated political struggle is in progress, there usually begin to emerge after a time the central and fundamental points at issue, upon the decision of which the ultimate outcome of the campaign depends, and in comparison with which all the minor and petty episodes of the struggle recede more and more into the background.

That, too, is how matters will stand in the political campaigns of the opposition, which for the last nine months has been riveting their attention.

Those in politics shouldn't think that our people are fools and all they need to do is speak and they will follow. They are not in politics because they are more intelligent than everybody else. There are many people who are not in politics but can be said to be wiser than those in politics.

And our politicians shouldn't over-value themselves and start to think that they are very special. Our people are not interested in them for the sake of it. They are supporting them so that they can win themselves material benefits and live better and in peace. They want to see their lives go forward and guarantee the future of their children.

It is therefore very important that our opposition politicians understand very well why they are still in opposition today, why they didn't win the last elections. They should begin by recognising the scale of their problems. What messages were they sending to the people? Were they associated with the most disagreeable messages or thoughts?

Were they thought to favour greed? Were they thought to be arrogant and out of touch? Were they thought to be insensitive to the plight of the people? Where did they stand on the issues of corruption? How well-organised are they? How is their appeal spread across the width and breadth of our country?

Our people are evaluating those in the opposition in terms of their competence and their reputation for honest and selfless dedication to the common cause. They are weighing them in the balance of truth, justice and unselfish service.

It is necessary to remind our opposition politicians that politics is for the good of the people and the country, and not for a political survival of any individual or party. In fact, if this was the case, if the spirit of the primacy of the common good were to animate all the parties, we would not be witnessing the petty politics which leaves the public dismayed and disheartened.

The activities of our political parties should be anchored on ideals and principles and not on tribal or personal cult. The campaigns of our politicians should avoid sectionalism and look for the common good of all people and enter into sincere dialogue with other opponents, even in cases of political divergence.

If our opposition politicians are to make a positive contribution to the governance of our country, they should start addressing themselves to the real issues so that our people can know what ideas they have on problems that really matter: cost of living, unemployment, corruption, poor services in education, health and government offices. Zambia needs patriotic politicians; people who place national interests before personal ambitions.

The opposition needs to conduct itself in a manner that engenders public trust and confidence. As for the ruling party, fulfilling their promises is of great importance. The Zambian people will only continue voting for them if they fulfil their promises and remain loyal to the people. People are loyal to those who are loyal to them. The people have faith in those who have faith in them.

Opposition politics, to be of value, must not be guided by the wish to destroy those in government; and by the determination to be elected. That is not a recipe for winning public confidence and trust. They should not look to defeat those in government on the back of national failure. There will be sufficient grounds without that to argue for their removal.

Those who are in the opposition today are there because they failed to win more public trust and confidence than those in government. This is what they need to work on. But it requires better and different organisation. They need to spread their appeal and attract different sorts of people: different ages, social types, ethnic groups and cultures.

They need to get straight what their core beliefs are. Jumping from one pact or alliance to another will not do, will not win them any election. This is so because no popular alliance, no true alliance can be built on the shifting sand of evasions, illusions and opportunism. Opportunists don't attract respect and loyalty for long.

This is so because an opportunist, by his very nature, will always evade taking a clear and decisive stand, he will always seek a middle course, he will always wriggle like a snake between mutually exclusive points of view and try to 'agree' with both and reduce his differences of opinion to petty doubts and so on and so forth. In a word, the opposition needs to seriously re-examine its political methods, strategies and tactics.

Failure to do so will leave them jumping around like monkeys from one issue to another without knowing exactly on which tree they are going to settle. Opposition politics do not mean opposing endlessly and senselessly everything that is said or done by those in government.

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