Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Lessons for PF
By Editor
Wed 18 Sep. 2013, 14:00 CAT

The last few weeks brought out the worst in the Patriotic Front. All sorts of negative tendencies and practices came to the fore.

The nation had the opportunity to see the worst of indiscipline in party politics. PF cadres were stripping naked, jumping on bonnets of police vehicles in front of State House. They were slapping fellow cadres in full view of cameras and of the police. Opportunists of all shades were also on exhibit. We also saw people who cannot think or see beyond tribe. Tribalists of all hues revealed themselves.

The nation also had an opportunity to see the nature and strength of the glue that holds Patriotic Front members together. We can only hope the leadership and membership of the Patriotic Front has learnt the necessary lessons from all that and drawn the right conclusions. The future will depend on how well they have learnt the lessons of all that episode and what practical steps they will take to remedy that which needs remedying.

And indeed, a lot of things need remedying. The very fact that such things happened is in itself evidence of weaknesses in the leadership and organisation of the party. The secretary general of the Patriotic Front, Wynter Kabimba, also has to take stock in the spirit of criticism and self-criticism to see if things could have been done differently. And every Patriotic Front leader, including the party president, has to take stock in the same spirit. None can escape blame for the indiscipline and anarchy that characterised the party over the last few weeks. There is need for humility and honesty with oneself if this type of behaviour is to be avoided in future.

We wonder how the future will judge the events of the last few weeks. We dare say that history will take a slightly more moderate view than that of some contemporary commentators. Distance is well known to lend enchantment, even to less attractive views. After all, it has the inestimable advantage of hindsight. But it can also lend an extra dimension to judgement, giving it a leavening of moderation and compassion - even of wisdom - that is sometimes lacking in the reactions of those whose task it is in life to offer instant opinions on all things great and small. No section of the community has all the virtues, neither does any have all the vices. There is need for moderation in all things.

It will also be necessary for the Patriotic Front to look at what kind of cadre they need or don't need. We are noting a serious decline not only in discipline but also in political morality, ethics and values. And this is causing a considerable strain on the moral standing of the party. There is need for cadres who conduct themselves in a humane manner. There is need for cadres who are selfless and are not taking or influencing decisions based on their own interests but are ready to subordinate their interests to those of the masses of our people and of the party. We also need cadres who understand the broader national and international situation; cadres who view accountability as an important duty of their work and who are rooted and grounded in society, and understand what their role in transforming society is.

And for the top leadership, there is need to be careful about the rough-handling of cadres because it leaves a strong legacy of bitterness and resentment - the walking wounded. This cultivates tendencies towards excessive defensivism, and also habits of counter-factionalism in some cases, with party cadres running the danger of falling excessively into elite politics - of palace manoeuvres, putsches. And disciplinary measures should not be used to settle political differences.

There are already some early signs of the dangers of careerism, patronage and business ambitions in the Patriotic Front. They need to be extremely vigilant about the abuse of the party and its structures for careerist and patronage purposes.

The leadership of the Patriotic Front must learn to use cadres well. In the final analysis, political leadership involves two main responsibilities: to work out ideas, and to use cadres well. They must learn how to take good care of cadres - giving them guidance, raising their level, checking up on their work and helping them sum up their experience, carry forward their achievements and correct their mistakes.Here, patience is essential.

Some friendships have been broken over the last few weeks and new ones have been created. But in all this, your best friends are those who bring out the best in you. Tell us who your best friends are, and we will tell you who you are, so they say.

If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl, but if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. Proverbs 27:19 says, "A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses." The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad. Think about it; almost all our sorrows spring out of relationships with the wrong people. Instead, keep out of the suction caused by those who drift backwards.

The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you indulge in mediocrity in others it increases your mediocrity.

A Bulgarian proverb confirms, "If you find yourself taking two steps forward and one step backwards, invariably it is because you have mixed associations in your life." If a loafer isn't a nuisance to you, it's a sign that you are somewhat of a loafer yourself. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with people who think and act negatively. Misery wants your company. But you don't have to let it in the door. Proverbs 13:20 tells us, "He that walketh with a wise man shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." We become like those whom we associate.

We need to be careful of the kind of insulation we use in our lives. We do need to insulate ourselves from negative people and ideas, but we should never insulate ourselves from godly counsel and wisdom.

We need foundation-level people in our lives. Such individuals bring out the best in us and influence to improve. They cause us to have greater faith and confidence and to see things from God's perspective. After being with them, our spirits and sights are raised.

We need to have contact with the right people on a regular basis. These are men and women of strong faith, who make us better people when we are around them. They are the ones who see the gifts in us and could correct us in a constructive, loving way. It is better to be alone than in the wrong company. A single conversation with the right person can be more valuable than years of study.

When you surround yourself with the right kind of people, you enter into the God-ordained power of agreement. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 states: "Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he is in trouble. And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken."

Steer clear of negative thinking experts: remember in the eyes of average people, average is always considered outstanding. Look carefully at your closest association, because it is an indication of the direction you are heading.

The Patriotic Front is in power. But power calls for a lot of responsibility. The exercise of power must be the constant practice of self-limitation and modesty.

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