Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Attacks on HH in Kasama
By Editor
Fri 20 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

There should be no area or part of our country that is a no-go place for any of us. There is no district or province of our country that belongs to a single individual or political party. All are free and should be free to canvass for support in any district or province of our country.

Kasama is increasingly being turned into a no-go area for the opposition and others considered hostile to those who think they own that district.

We say this in the light of this week's attacks on Hakainde Hichilema and his entourage in Kasama. Hakainde has the right to go to Kasama, address meetings and talk to whoever he wants to talk to without inhibition.

But it's increasingly becoming difficult for opposition politicians to visit Kasama. Not very long ago, NAREP president Elias Chipimo had problems in Kasama. And Nevers Mumba also had serious challenges going around doing his political work in Kasama. These people have the right to be in Kasama. If one doesn't want to meet them or listen to them, they are also entitled to stay away from them and their meetings. No one has the right to force anyone to attend a meeting or to listen to someone they don't want to listen to.

There are many ways of showing political disapproval for someone. The best way is simply to stay away from them and their meetings. This is perfectly in order. But it's not in order to start harassing people and trying to chase them from Kasama.

Our multi-party political setup is starting to establish a reputation for intolerance that is difficult to match.

What seems to be distinctly lacking in our politics is a culture of tolerance and humility which places the humanity of others before self and accepts that all citizens have a right to participate in the shaping of their destiny directly without fear of reprisal.

Tolerance and respect for our fellow citizens makes us allow our critics to express their opinion about our views without inhibition, whether these seem to be unpalatable or not. At the same time, we expect the same treatment or privilege when our turn comes. This is not something we achieve instinctively. Rather, we develop it consciously and respectfully.

For our very instincts would drive us to throttling our opponents in argument, or, better still, smack them with a deadly blow.

Why should we fear to have other people's voices heard? Are we afraid to be undermined by what they say?

Being in opposition, or holding a different opinion, is not a crime against anyone. There are some people who think everyone must belong to them or be condemned. The sponsors of this dialectic are not ashamed to attribute enmity where it may not exist. They thrive on the explosive emotions which this dialectic is likely to generate among the unsuspecting idle youths of low literacy. In fact, no regard is ever had for the patriotism of those they detest, unless they happen to die.
To them, opposition per se is non-existent. Anything else is enmity. Opposition is an expression of hate, not pure disagreement.
It is quite true that the acceptance of opposition and the criticisms that go with it implies the highest respect for the human ideal, and that its denial suggests a conscious or unconscious lack of humanity on our part.

Intolerance must surely rank as one of the worst forms of immorality in politics and in human affairs in general. We can see the horror of this in people who go out of their way to organise violence against someone for simply belonging to another political party.

But this intolerance is not one-sided. Hakainde himself is intolerant of those who don't support him - he sees them as enemies. And we are one of such people Hakainde sees as enemies for simply not giving him the political support or endorsement he wants from us. We have been victims at the hands of Hakainde's cadres and supporters. This has never bothered Hakainde at all.

If all our politicians cared about what happens to another human being, to a fellow citizen, there would be very little violence if any in our politics. But it seems violence and intolerance are okay as long as they are directed at others and not at themselves. It only becomes a bad thing if it's directed at themselves. Here is Hakainde who recruits the worst known politician for violence - William Banda - and makes him his advisor.

Advisor in what? Violence! What example has Hakainde been setting, being surrounded by such people?

Violence is bad and it is bad against anyone. There is no violence against anyone that is good and that should be tolerated by anyone. If our politicians can cleanse their political parties of violent characters, there would be no violence. But they want them and that's why they keep them - for use at appropriate times. They ferry them to by-elections to cause havoc, to intimidate and harass opponents. They have use for them and that's why they are keeping them. They actually pay them - these violent characters live off them.

But we shouldn't forget that violence begets violence; violence breeds counter-violence and the vicious cycle goes on. Violence can only do one thing, and that is to breed counter-violence.

And as we have repeatedly pointed out, there is no political doctrine, principle or proclaimed political position that can be used to justify atrocious acts such as the physical attack on a political opponent. No crime can be committed in the name of politics.

And the truth also is that the police have historically never been very firm on the violence of cadres from the ruling party. This culture was so strong under the MMD and there is no transformation of the police on this score under this new political dispensation. The police are still behaving the same way towards ruling party cadres. And as Dr Kenneth Kaunda once remarked, "Nothing would be more dangerous than to confuse men and women who are responsible for the maintenance of law and order in any country.

"UNIP members, therefore, apart from the fact that they are humanists, must remember that even for their own good, their fellow workers in the police force must be left to deal with the maintenance of law and order in the way they were trained…We will create a very dangerous situation if we should want to control every police unit locally as some local party leaders want them to operate. Otherwise, chaos will follow, and I am sure no true UNIP member would like to see this. First and foremost must come the quality of impartial fair play, for I do not wish my policemen to be partisans to the main political and tribal feuds that may emerge in our country, as has happened in others. The worst policeman so far as I am concerned is that man who will not admonish or arrest another because he is of the same tribe, race or political sympathy. Equally reprehensible is a policeman who will not do his duty for fear that because he is of a different tribe, race or political feeling, his deeds will be misunderstood. If you should ever find yourselves in a position of compromise against the principles of fair play and impartiality, then be humble enough to seek God's guidance because neither the present nor the future generation will forgive you for betraying the many people who have died and suffered in the struggle to bring forth this independent land."

Tolerance is very important. If people have tolerance, you can easily overcome difficulties. If you have little tolerance or are without it, then the smallest thing immediately irritates you.

Learn to love your fellow citizens and all other human beings. If you love others, you cannot go out to harm them. And love doesn't discriminate on the basis of political affiliation or some other factors. We are all taught to love our enemies. If you have love and compassion toward all sentient beings, particularly toward your enemy, that is true love and compassion. We are social creatures, and a concern for each other is the very basis of our life together. Our doings and thinkings must be motivated by compassion for others. The way to acquire that kind of outlook is to accept a simple fact that whatever we desire is also desired by others. No one wants to be beaten. If we all don't want to be beaten, why should we allow others to be beaten?

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