Monday, April 29, 2013

PF and the future
By Editor
Thu 25 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Political education is highly required if our political parties are to remain viable for a long time. The mobilisation work of our political parties should be educational and informative.

It is pleasing to learn that the Patriotic Front is undertaking political education programmes for its cadres and young leaders. And as PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba observes, "A politically educated leadership and membership will think more about ideas and less about uncivil means of doing politics such as violence."

Knowledge is the most democratic source of power. Hotheads and cold hearts never solved anything.

Since the departure of UNIP from power and influence, we have witnessed the absence of political education and cadre development programmes from our politics. There is need for all our political parties to invest in cadre education and development programmes. There is need to ensure that party history, mission and objectives are deep-rooted among the youth and society at large. This is the only way a political party can sustain itself over a long period of time.

All political party members should actively participate in education programmes as part of their political work. And political education should be based on the question of real-life activism and linked to the campaigns of the party.

It is only through good political education programmes that our political parties will start to adequately, effectively and efficiently respond to the needs, aspirations and interests of the electorate. All our political parties should see themselves as organisations of power, influence and activism. Power among our working people, civic, mass movement NGOs is what we mean in terms of power. Influence means ensuring that the party presence is felt and decisions and interests of the electorate are met or served.

It is only through political education that our political parties will be able to define what type of party cadres they need or do not need. And this is very important taking into account the decline in political morality, ethics and values that we have witnessed over the last two decades of MMD rule. This has caused a considerable strain on the moral standing of all our politicians.

We need, through education, to have cadres who conduct themselves in a manner that is not only politically acceptable but that which is also morally acceptable. This is the only way we can increase political participation in our country. People are shunning politics today because of lack of morality and civility in the conduct of politics.
We need party cadres and members who are politically grounded and are able to analyse situations on the basis of the principles, values and standards of their party.

With good political education, we will start to have cadres and members in our political parties who are selfless and are not taking or influencing decisions based on their own interests and who are able to subordinate their personal interests to those of the nation and the communities they have been elected or are seeking to serve.
We need cadres who understand the broader national and international situation. We also need cadres who understand the significance and relevance of our multi party political dispensation and how it was brought about. We also need cadres who view accountability as an important duty of their political work. If this happens, we will stop witnessing the embarrassing scenes of party cadres being mobilised to go to court and sing and dance for a leader who abused his power and trust to steal from the people.
Political cadres must be rooted and grounded in society, and understand what their role is in transforming our society. We need cadres who are gender activists and who fight against all forms of injustice and abuses.
The political party that will succeed in doing this will not fail to get into power and retain it for a long time. If the Patriotic Front succeeds in its political education programmes, it will be assured of a long stay in office and of great achievements in its efforts to transform our country and improve the living standards of the people.
There is no need to keep on recruiting members without properly educating them on what the party is about or stands for. This is useless because a growing membership that is not reflected in the increasing political activities of the party is not worth it. Most members and some of the leaders are not involved in the daily lives of our political parties.
There is need for our political parties to focus on targeted recruitment of their members and ensure that they are properly inducted and educated on party policies, programmes and history. There should be continuous political education programmes for members. There is need to assess party members and leaders on the basis of their deployments and their work within that.
Clearly, political education is a vital component of any politics. If a political party expects its members to be ignorant and yet effective, it is expecting what never was and shall never be. We say this because these things have to be acquired. They must be learned.
Good national politics require the commitment of all our political parties to good standards, principles, values and common aims. A multi party society needs the commitment of citizens who are well educated in the inevitability of conflict as well as the necessity for tolerance. A multi party political dispensation needs political cadres and leaders who have been taught to negotiate with others, to compromise and to work within the constitutional system and pursue their goals in a democratic manner and ultimately how to live in a world of diversity.
And as Wynter says, we need party education programmes that seek to produce politically conscious and astute members and leaders. It is not possible to prepare the political leadership of tomorrow without good political education programmes. If we want good politics tomorrow, good leadership tomorrow, good governance tomorrow, we have to start preparing for it today. The future is not built in the future. The future is built on the threshold of the political work that our politicians and their political parties do today.

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