Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga says he gets sick to the stomach each time most politicians open their mouths to speak.
And Mwaanga says the Commonwealth-led dialogue must consider the reconstitution of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Constitutional Court.
In a statement, Thursday, Mwaanga stated that it was saddening for politicians to constantly attack each other instead of presenting their manifestos to the people.
He recalled that founding fathers were selfless and dedicated to service.
“Each time many of our politicians open their mouths, I get sick in the stomach from their utterances and their lack of any vision for our country. The older generation of politicians who fought for our independence, saw the first and second republics and part of our third republic, were passionate about our country and its people young and old. They were selfless and dedicated to service and not to self and passionately believed and defended the national motto of one Zambia,one Nation. Like all other countries, this breed of leaders gave way to a new generation of political leaders, in the hope that they would take the country to a new and higher level of civilised politics, prosperity and a sense of hope for the people of Zambia and I mean all the people, regardless of where they come from,” Mwaanga stated.
“If I say that many who form this new crop of politicians have been disappointing, it is for lack of a much strong word. They invest so much time attacking each other instead of telling the people of Zambia what they are going to do, to make their lives better. The economy is performing poorly, unemployment levels, particularly among the youth is going up, civil servants are not being paid in a timely manner, there is a slowdown in foreign direct investment, educational standards are falling and negotiations with the IMF for a US$1.3 billion facility have stalled largely on account of national debt unsustainability and a lack of transparency in disclosing this debt, among other reasons. Some of our politicians believe that they can impress their masters and constituencies by viciously attacking their opponents for whatever reasons, be they real or not. By doing this, they poison the minds of their supporters.”
And Mwaanga expressed concern at the slow pace at which the Commonwelth-led dialogue process was moving.
“This is not the way to go. Our political leaders continue to talk at each other and not to each other, as civilised politics of the 21st century demand. The MMD left a mechanism called the Zambia Centre for Inter Party Dialogue (ZCID) in place, which has served our country well in the past. Political parties used to meet almost every month and discuss everything affecting Zambia, be it the economy, governance, the Constitution, the Public Order Act, political violence, human rights, etc, with a rotating chairmanship . This has not happened since MMD was voted out of office in 2011. It had to take the Catholic Bishops, former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and finally, the Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland to arrange and appoint a distinguished african diplomat, Prof Ibrahim Gambari as a dialogue envoy for Zambia. His mission progress has been painfully slow and cumbersome. Consultations with various stakeholders has been laborious and the subjects complex. Prof Gambari is now due back in Zambia in the next few days, hopefully to start the long overdue dialogue. It is important that all those participating in this dialogue, should not treat it as an occasion for scoring cheap political points or outwitting each other. It must be attended at the level of Presidents of political parties and treated as a serious process aimed at building a solid and indelible foundation for the future of our country,” he stated.
He suggested topics to be included on the dialogue agenda.
“Subjects to be discussed, should also include, fair application of the public order act, reforms of the police service, reconstitution of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, reconstitution of the Constitutional Court, further amendments to the Constitution of Zambia, zero tolerance to political violence before, during and after elections, commitment by all stakeholders to the rule of law, respect for human rights, zero tolerance to corruption in the public and private sectors, respect for press freedom, particularly the private independent media, commitment to electoral reforms, a recommitment to the national motto of “one zambia , one nation ” , among others. I remain convinced that African Institutions such as SADC and AU, should have played an active part in this dialogue process, but sadly, they retreated into oblivion and rendered themselves irrelevant . Our political leaders must learn to disagree without being disagreeable and must be tolerant of each other’s views. This is essential as we move towards consolidating our nascent democracy, which is still very fragile. Power is sweet, but is never permanent and must to do unto others and they want others to do unto them. They owe it to future generations to do so,” stated Mwaanga.