Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What type of reconciliation, forgiveness is Rupiah seeking?
By Editor
Sat 06 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

Rupiah Banda has completely misunderstood Nelson Mandela's approach to reconciliation.

Rupiah thinks reconciliation is synonymous with allowing impunity. You steal from your poor people who you are privileged to lead, you keep your loot and when you are pursued for your criminal acts, for your injustice, you seek to be left alone under the blanket of reconciliation. This is not reconciliation. This is impunity. Mandela has never preached impunity.

And Mandela clear warns against this type of approach to reconciliation: "We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice."

Mandela also made it clear that "the mission of reconciliation is underpinned by what I have dedicated my life to: uplifting the most downtrodden sections of our population and all-round transformation of society".

Mandela's reconciliation was not without conditions and it wasn't personal and arbitrary. The whole South African nation was involved in the reconciliation that Mandela initiated. There was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where people confessed their crimes and were forgiven. We are reminded in James 5:16: "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed".

True reconciliation is to seek and accept forgiveness. Rupiah, like his friend Frederick Chiluba, has refused to publicly acknowledge that he abused his office to amass wealth, to steal from the Zambian people. But he wants forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness for what? Reconciliation for what? You can only be forgiven for a wrong you have done and a wrong you have accepted to have done. There is nowhere where Rupiah accepts wrongdoing.

We know for Rupiah this is not a problem. He 'forgave' Chiluba without Chiluba publicly accepting any wrongdoing. Rupiah is on record boasting that he saved Chiluba from going to jail. How? Why? What wrong did Chiluba do? Rupiah knew very well that Chiluba had stolen public funds and if it was left to the due process of the law, he was going to end up in jail, so he came in to save him. Is this the type of reconciliation and forgiveness Mandela was engaged in? Is this the type of reconciliation and forgiveness the Bible is preaching? Is this the type of reconciliation and forgiveness the Zambian people and their successive governments should engage in?

Clearly, Rupiah is not seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. He is seeking impunity for himself. And he did that for Chiluba to set a precedent that he wished to be applied to himself. Surely, is that a precedent Michael Sata and the Zambian people should adhere to?
Levy Mwanawasa rejected this type of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Levy was ready to forgive Chiluba but not without conditions. Levy told Chiluba to return some of the money he had stolen if he wanted forgiveness. There has to be contrition on the part of the wrongdoer before forgiveness can be extended.

It's clear that Rupiah doesn't care about others. All he cares for is himself. And it is this attitude that opened him to corruption. Our doings and thinking must be motivated by compassion for others. The way to acquire that kind of outlook is to accept the simple fact that whatever we desire is also desired by others. And Rupiah needs to understand this.

The situation Rupiah finds himself in today is self-created. One's own actions create one's life situation. The reason why we seek to behave in a good manner is that it's from good behaviour that good fruits are derived. One wants happiness and doesn't want suffering, and on the basis of that, one enters into good actions and avoids bad actions. Once you have pure and sincere motivation, all the rest follows.

You can develop this right attitude towards others on the basis of kindness, love and respect, and on the clear realisation of the oneness of all human beings. By showing concern for other people's welfare, sharing other people's suffering, ultimately one will benefit. If one thinks only of oneself and forgets about others, ultimately one will lose.

It's difficult to understand why we should have prisons in this country if we follow Rupiah's logic. In Rupiah's world, all crimes committed against society should be forgiven in the spirit of reconciliation and love. And no wrongdoer should be arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail. Probably Rupiah is only concerned with former presidents, with these special human beings and not the rest of our people, especially the poor. In Rupiah's world, only the poor, the less powerful, those who have not been presidents should go to jail for theft and other crimes. Is this fair and just? Is this what the rule of law requires? This is jungle law. This is unfair and unjust.

If we adopt a self-centred approach to life by which we attempt to use others for our own self-interest, we might be able to gain temporary benefit, but in the long run we'll not succeed in achieving even our personal happiness.

And before teaching others, before changing others, we ourselves must change. We must be honest, sincere, kind-hearted. Can Rupiah be said to be honest or to have been honest, sincere and kind-hearted? We all know how Rupiah behaved towards those who he perceived to be political enemies. We all know what he did to them and their businesses. Rupiah was ready to annihilate his political opponents. Rupiah dehumanised those he did not like. Look at the dirty campaign Rupiah waged against Michael and others he didn't like! We are not saying these things should not be forgiven. We are merely reminding ourselves of the need for honesty and truth before we can think of any reconciliation and forgiveness.

Do as you would be done by. We should share the sufferings of our fellow human beings and practice compassion and tolerance, not only towards our beloved ones but towards our enemies. Our daily thoughts and actions should be directed towards the benefit of others.
We should engage in the same high standard of integrity and sacrifice that we ask of others.

We agree with the need to emulate Mandela's reconciliatory and loving spirit if the world is to become a better place to live in. But as we have already stated, there are conditions to forgiveness and reconciliation. There are those who have to go to hell when they die. This is not because God is unforgiving. There are also those we as human beings have to send to jail not because we are unforgiving. Forgiving is very important. When people have confessed their sins and show contrition, they deserve to be forgiven. When we are able to recognise and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain the strength to solve the problems of the past constructively.

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