New generation of politicians failing to recognise the value of dialogue – VJ
By Thomas Ngala
WE fought very hard to get rid of colonialism, we worked very hard to ensure One Zambia One Nation remained our national motto, veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has said.
In a statement yesterday, Mwaanga said it is disgusting that the country has passed through phases of intolerance, abusive language and even violence.
“We have maintained good neighbourliness with all the eight countries around us since our independence in October 1964. We have invested a lot in peaceful and democratic governance. We have travelled on bumpy and treacherous paths before and emerged resilient,” he said. “Peace does not come by accident. It has to be worked for by well meaning citizens who love their country. Political violence shows its ugly head when irresponsible politicians start inciting people by their failure to discipline their tongues. Some of them appear to think that they get noticed when they use foul language against their opponents. Our new generation of politicians is failing to understand and recognise the value of dialogue. Our politicians have opted to talk at each other but not to each other.”
Mwaanga said his generation recognised the value of dialogue and working with all political parties hence the setting up the Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue.
He explained that the centre was intended to offer all political parties an equal opportunity to raise matters of concern or interest, which were then to be freely discussed behind closed doors.
“In any free and diverse political environment, difference of opinion is inevitable. Respect for each others’ opinions is vital. Experience has shown over the years that civil discourse usually leads to finding common ground, which then produces compromises. All people have a right to hold opinions. Some of these opinions may be outrageous but we should respectfully disagree with them after listening to them attentively,” he said. “You don’t have to prove yourself right all the time. No human being is right all the time. There is no need to be aggressive or rude when we present our opinions. There are times when with civility we shall agree to disagree. Disagreeing with someone or certain things doesn’t have to be unpleasant or acrimonious and factually based. It is one way of respecting differences. These differences exist intraparty and interparty. They should not lead to violence.”
Mwaanga stressed the need for Zambians to invest in peace.
He warned citizens not to allow the country to get back to the dark days of pangas, machetes and other unwholesome instruments of violence.
“All political parties must commit themselves to non-violence and make sure that this commitment gets to the cadres and party hooligans. As we struggle to get the economy growing again, a peaceful political environment is absolutely necessary and desirable. There is nowhere in this world where there are no disagreements among people,” said Mwaanga. “We must also be cognisant of the fact that in all the older and nascent democracies people and institutions function within the laws which are on their statutes. They may not be good laws, but they have to be obeyed until they have been changed. Those who don’t obey the laws must bear the consequences, which are within the law. Lawlessness is not synonymous with democracy. We all have a duty to help create an environment where our children and children’s children will live in peace and harmony.”-The Mast