Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Held at ransom by party cadres
By Editor
Sun 22 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THERE is something that has seriously gone wrong with the behaviour of our political cadres, especially those of the ruling Patriotic Front.

Cadres of the Patriotic Front seem to be holding everybody to ransom by insisting that since it is them who led the campaign for Michael Sata to win the presidency and put their party in power, they alone have the sacred right to rule, to do as they please and to be everywhere they want to be. End of debate. The rest is fear, silence and bewilderment.

The opening of Parliament on Friday was a ceremony whose attendance was by invitation. But Patriotic Front cadres took it over. The guards at the gates of Parliament failed to stop them from getting in. They invaded Parliament and made it difficult for members of parliament to mingle freely with the invited guests who included diplomats. They drank their heads off. They were collecting more beer to drink than they could drink. It was an embarrassing sight.

We are not in any way trying to say that Patriotic Front cadres should not be invited to state functions. What we are trying to say is simply that they should attend state functions by invitation. If they are invited, they should attend. If they are not invited, they shouldn't be there.

It seems our politicians are allowing their lives to be run by party cadres for as long as it means that they are seen to be on the side of the dominant political forces in the ruling party. Whatever political contribution the cadres made to put the Patriotic Front in power, is not licence for them to conduct themselves in any manner they want.

There has to be discipline. There is a clear breakdown in discipline.
This is our tragedy, the inability to value every single innocent life and bring happiness to our people without demanding eternal gratitude. And it seems the Patriotic Front, as a party, is happy with all this.
But this is what happens if discipline is lost. This is what happens to a political party if values and principles are traded on the altar of political expedience.

These cadres are not necessarily bad young people. Some of them have a core of decency, and if their hearts are touched, they are capable of changing for the better. They are not evil; their inhumanity has been foisted upon them by an inhuman system. They behave like brutes because they are rewarded for brutish behaviour. And this is not only in the Patriotic Front - almost all our key political parties reward this type of behaviour.

We have seen how last week anarchy was rewarded by the leadership of the Patriotic Front. Indisciplined cadres who have no regard for the established structures of their party and had no fear to proclaim themselves chairman of this or chairman of that were promoted by the leadership of the party to very high positions, positions they had arbitrarily and in the most indisciplined of ways given themselves.

This is destroying our political parties and our politics. We can do better than this and the Zambian people deserve better than this. For God's sake, we are condemning ourselves to eternal backwardness and universal ridicule. We have no cause to wallow in this type of behaviour when we could be developing in many ways.

With this type of behaviour, people lose the habit of thinking and exchanging creative views and thoughts. People have no real interest in the future nation - only the present owes them anything.

It seems one can only participate in the politics of our country on the terms set by the cadres. If one goes outside that, it becomes dangerous. To suggest that political participation is only possible within the context of the machinery set by the dominant party cadres is tantamount to saying that what is good for them and their sponsors is good for everyone, a suggestion which is patently false as far as what is known about the diversity of the human condition goes.

There must be recognition in Zambian politics that any system of government must be based on sound moral values which serve to bind members of the system. However they may be defined, these moral values must make clear the relationship between the individual and the collectivity. The clarification must be done via a full recognition of the need for individual freedom and dignity. Any social system that does not recognise these values runs every possible risk of tyranny in the name of politics.

A political system that recognises individual freedom and dignity is better placed to promote political participation. That is, the right of individuals to self-determination in the pursuit of their constitutional rights in an open society not subject to monopoly politics.

Such political participation is likely to encourage discussion, that is, the right of individuals to engage in critical and informed debate on personal, local, national and other broader issues which affect the individual and his social space without fear or favour.

Recognising that it takes time for any social system to develop and uphold such values, it is necessary to have in place an enabling environment for these values. By and large, Zambia does not yet have in place an enabling environment for democratic governance with intra and inter-party democracy.

The reasons for this problem are historical and are related to these background values in conflict which make up Zambia's present political culture and which mix in such a way as to diminish the immediate possibility of a democratic civil culture.

And notwithstanding the tenuous multiparty provision of our Constitution, the Zambian body politic characteristically lacks tolerant value premises. And we see this every day in the way we treat those who do not agree with us, those who hold different political views and who belong to different political parties or even factions within the same political party.

This needs to change. It is this that is leading our politicians to surrender their lives to party cadres and allow them to rule over us. And this is what political degeneracy and decay looks like. Political degeneracy and decay have many manifestations and these are some of them.

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