WE are going in the wrong political direction.
Nursing and nurturing a broken political system that thrives on mob psychology instead of valuing political substance, let alone tenets of integrity and purposefulness will only lead this country into further political disarray.
What happened in Monze last week is typical of a broken political system.
An organised group of opposition youngsters was strategically positioned to boo and generally embarrass President Edgar Lungu while he was visiting the district.
This is exactly why we have opposed the establishment of the so-called Organisation of retired eminent persons, or OCIDA – Our Civic Duty organisation whose “number four” aim is to fund tribalism allegedly targeted against Tonga-Lozi and North-Westerners, which would seem to support their ethos.
They now find themselves in the invidious position we predicted.
Our political system that has produced this polarisation is truly dysfunctional and no amount of tinkering around it will cure the ills and if indeed we go into the 2021 elections with the same mindset the country can brace for more turmoil.
It has been said that societies whose political institutions are more inclusive and participatory tend to be more peaceful and resilient, just as societies practicing exclusion tend to be more vulnerable to fragility and conflict.
What we require and what we would have expected the retired eminent persons to undertake was an initiative in building bridges in the same manner that our Kenyan colleagues are endeavoring to build – an all-inclusive governance system.
A collection of bitter and angry people cannot be expected to provide the balance and equanimity, level headedness to win the trust of all players in brokering compromise and peace for the sake of national wellbeing.
Peace will not come by siding with any of the two opposing groups mainly because the substance of personal integrity and motivation of individual politicians is simply subsumed in the amorphous global interest of the group making it difficult to find compromise positions.
We have found it regrettable that both the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) have shot down the proposal for a coalition Government, which would have assured inclusiveness by default, in the event that none of the parties gained an outright majority.
We would have preferred a de facto electoral system that would have assured inclusiveness to reduce regional tensions and provide more focus on more important issues.
The propaganda and mantra around corruption, bad governance and indeed all manner of authority abuse will find a home in any opposition party. It is the staple of African and indeed Third World politics, where substantive issue of development are simply incidental to political activism.
Our eminent citizens should be promoting dialogue to build inclusiveness. Our present system does not provide for this. It provides for winner take all.
We can learn from countries that have grappled with exclusiveness, which are many. Some countries have devised unique means of ensuring governance systems that balance between representation and sound leadership that exudes integrity.
The existential danger we face is for crooks to rise to leadership on the shoulders of regionalism, an eventuality that is real.