Newly-nominated member of parliament Raphael Nakacinda has urged politicians in the country not to have a hostile agenda by demonising relations with China and other cooperating partners merely because of partisan differences.

In his maiden speech on the floor of the House, Tuesday, Nakacinda, who is opposition MMD national secretary of the Felix Mutati-led faction, stressed the need for politicians to rise above petty partisan interests for the sake of the country and not engage in confrontational debates that could harm Zambia’s relations with China.

“May take this opportunity to thank the President of Zambia, Mr Edgar Lungu, for the honour, trust and confidence he has bestowed upon me with an opportunity to serve the Zambian people through this August House. My coming to this House and my discourse, thereof, will be driven by two fundamental ideals and principles: one, the ideal of nationalism; two, the principle of patriotism. It saddens me today that patriotism seems not to be the order of the day. The books I have read tell me that when politicians differed here in Zambia, of course which is obvious, however, when out of this country, they spoke in unison with one voice advancing the interests of their country, making the right image that would generate that rare positive interest from other cooperating partners. They were marketers of their country regardless of how they felt. Every Zambian needed not to be trained as a diplomat. But because of the kind of conversations that we, the leaders, particularly some of us in this House are having, we are begging to develop and encourage a culture where our people, the Zambian people, are not even proud to even talk about their country,” Nakacinda said.

“Instead, when Zambia is mentioned, there is always a temptation to speak ill of their country. So, I came to say, can we change the conversations that we are having? From the toxic debates that are basically hell-bent of bringing one another down, but it has become a debate that is more confrontational. Madam chairperson, there are issues of governance that I want to comment on. Our country has been gripped with unfortunate vices. For example, I earlier referred to the issued of patriotism; today, there is a deliberate attempt to demonise our relationship with China and other friends of our country that have interests in this country. Instead of having a conversation on how we can utilise the gifts, talents and skills that Zambia has to go to the negotiating table, when engaging with these cooperating partners, we have begun to sabotage our relationships with our cooperating partners.”

He stressed that politicians should instead introspect on how Zambia can benefit from relations with its cooperating partners.

“The approach should not be to demonise China! The approach should be to introspect and look at what it is that we are not doing right, making sure that our dealings with China are bringing the necessary dividends that will trickle-down to the Zambian people. China has been an ‘all-weather friend.’ China has a shared history with our country that is undeniable. The impact of their genuine and overwhelming friendship cannot be ignored. On the other hand, madam chairperson, there is need for us to introspect in terms of how we relate with other nationals. And deliberately, I make reference to China because before anything else, madam chairperson, China and its population of over a billion people in itself is an already existing big market that can absorb any form of products that Zambia and the entire Africa could produce,” argued Nakacinda.