Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) executive director Gregory Chifire says it was pleasing to see NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili interact with President Edgar Lungu during the Independence Day celebrations because Zambians are tired of politicians being on each other’s throats.
And Chifire says it is unfortunate that party cadres are killing each other when their leaders are able to relate in a civil manner.
During Independence Day celebrations at Freedom Statue last Thursday, President Lungu shook hands with his most outspoken critic, Kambwili, and the two had a cordial chat.
Explaining the encounter with the Head of State, Kambwili said that he seized the rare opportunity of meeting President Lungu to lobby for the reinstatement of meal allowances for university students so that females learners could stop being used as “sex toys” for survival.
Commenting on this in an interview, Chifire said he never expected Kambwili to attend a State function looking at the toxic nature of politics in the country.
“It was gratifying to see NDC president Chishimba Kambwili shaking hands and discussing with the Republican President, Mr Edgar Lungu, during the Independence Day commemoration. I must also admit that most of us never expected Kambwili to attend a State function looking at the toxic nature of our politics. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with Kambwili having attended Independence celebrations because it is purely a national function that cuts across partisan lines,” Chifire said.
“It is his personal conviction and we must never jump to conclude that perhaps he intends to rejoin the PF. There are also those that feel they can never attend any State function, that is their conviction, too, and must never be judged.”
And Chifire said the nation was tired of politicians always being at each other’s throat, adding that seeing known adversaries greet and chat in public melted the “cloud of tension hovering over the nation”.
“Otherwise, as a nation, I’m sure many will agree with me that we are tired of politicians being on each other’s throat, not to mention the political tension and the growing culture of political violence, which has been building up over time. Seeing known nemesis greet and chat in public melts the cloud of tension hovering in the nation and is one of the ways through, which we can send messages to party cadres about the importance of co-existence irrespective of differences in party affiliations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chifire wondered why cadres could attack each other if their leaders could embrace their political opponents.
“If leaders could embrace each other, why must the youths maim each other? It’s a pity that the poor youths kill each other, while their leaders are able to share a cup of tea, there leaders’ children play together and go to expensive schools together. It’s a big lesson. Irrespective of how much these politicians call each other names, they will never throw punches at each other. Whenever they find themselves in one place, they hug each other, they joke and eat together,” Chifire noted.
“Now, a poor cadre in Kanyama Compound wants to kill the other whenever they are in contact, what a shame! To our cadres, next time, when these leaders ask you to fight, ask them to send their children, or better still, do it themselves!”
Chifire said Zambians must at all times encourage political opponents to meet and exchange ideas.
“We must at all times encourage political opponents to meet from time to time, exchange ideas, and that doesn’t in no way mean that the opposition is comprised. Holding different political opinions does not mean enmity. Zambia needs politics of civilization, we can’t be on each other’s throats all the time. There’s time for politics, and time for national building. I wish our politicians could learn a thing or two on how (Uhuru) Kenyatta and Raila (Odinga) relate to each other in Kenya. We are a civilized and peaceful people that must at all times take pride in peaceful co-existence, after all, we are a Christian nation,” said Chifire.