PRINCE Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika says just like UNIP and MMD, PF has betrayed the people by going back on certain promises they made about enhancing people’s freedoms.
And Akashambatwa says young people must rise up and fight for a better country because his generation is too old to contribute to governance issues as they used to at one time.
Meanwhile, Akashambatwa says leaders of political parties encourage violence by allowing cadres to dress up as though they are going to war.
Speaking at a stakeholders workshop organized by the Human Rights Commission in Mongu recently, Akashambatwa observed that politicians were fond of changing positions once voted into office.
“The history of Zambia is that UNIP was oppressive and it only realized how bad oppression is when it was in opposition. MMD was a champion of ending oppression [but] once they were in a seat to end it, they perpetuated it. PF was a very big champion against the Public Order Act, when it went into power suddenly it says ‘you cannot have a society without a Public Order Act.’ Now, are there any other potential betrayers who today may be pretending to be championing the cause of freedom?” Akashambatwa asked.
“The way UNIP championed independence freedom, the way MMD championed democracy and development, the way PF championed against the Public Order Act? How do we make sure that we do not continue this culture? We can only do that if the freedom we fight for is the freedom for everybody. We can only do that if the democracy we fight for, the justice we fight for is the justice for everybody including those we don’t agree with. And the time to show that if you go into power next you will be different is now before you are in power. Let us hear you even if you are in opposition. If injustice is being done by someone from the ruling party let us hear you stand up. If injustice is being done by your fellow party members, let us hear you stand up so that you can be partisan but in the context of being a nationalist.”
And Akashambatwa said it was time for young people to be actively involved in fighting for freedom.
“If you are looking for a rejuvenation of the struggle for democracy, the first place you should look at it is the mirror. If in the past you had people you had looked at, listened to, watched, and admired and proud of what they were doing, don’t now so many years later be perplexed (that they are silent), some have died some have cooled down; even your silence has disappointed them and incapacitated them So we ourselves should look in the mirror let us be the change we want. We are the ones that are awaited. If there were young people in the past who did certain things and you are young now, you should ask yourself why you are not like those young people. Not why those who were young people in 50 or 60 years ago are no longer acting like young people. In terms of youth, I will tell you that the reason why many changes are engineered by younger people is because when you are young, you are free to have audacity, you are also full of naivety where you fear very little things, you have very little stake in society so this your chance when you are young to really put your foot forward and not to be a spectator I think that that is most important. There are too many spectators,” Akashambatwa lamented.
“The liberation of democracy, democratic struggle is complete many efforts have been made in the past none of them have succeeded, none of us have succeed. So the struggle is still there and those of you who are young, are the ones now we are looking to, not to complain that the old people have become old but to say you are still young so let us see the energy come into the field. Somewhere specifically as you say that in 1991 that there were dynamic people like Aka who inspired them and my answer was that, if for one minute in my life in the past had I inspired you, this is your chance now to be the Aka you had admired, not to look for the old Aka to be the young Aka.”
Meanwhile, Akashambatwa said he was concerned about the conduct of today’s political party cadres.
“My other concern is young people, I am glad that participation here has been very vigorously from young people and a few old people. I am concerned about these people we call cadres. In the French language, cadre in political language, is a very positive word. It is a sign of commitment, ideological grounding and the fore front of your party. But it has obviously now not become such a positive word. And the areas which I would love to look at and which I ask all political leaders to look at as far as the cadres are concerned,… let me tell you who the young people were during the freedom struggle: the young cadres were the Rupiah Bandas, were the Venon Mwaangas, were the [Alexander] Chikwandas but they were sent to school! They were not sent to bars. So that when they came back from school, they found that they could continue with their mission. Now the present day leaders are challenged, what are you doing to these young people? Apart from taking them to streets, apart from getting them to drink, apart from getting them to fight, what about their future, if they are truly the future leaders? The other aspect which is related to that is the dress code which has been mentioned. All this pseudo militaristic stuff, why should you be roughly dressed as if you are going to war? When politics is supposed to be a civil aspect? And all our political leaders who allow these things are contributing to violence. Because if you dress a certain way, If you are dressed in a suit, it is very difficult to go to a fight into the mud but if you are already dressed like a thug, you are dressed like a military person, then you are ready for war, that is very bad! And that should be looked at and that bring some behavior. So that is a challenge to our leaders,” he said.
He insisted that any amendment to the constitution should be beyond party interests.
“There is no country without law and order. The truth is that there cannot be law and order without justice. So if you want to reinforce law and order, check out whether the law itself is just to everybody. Also related to that is that freedom and human rights are indivisible. When we had the heated debate on the treatment of members of the press, on all sides, the mistreatment of them, what came to mind clearly is that we are forgetting that for you to be a democrat, you must not just exercise your own freedom, you must fight and stand up for the freedom of everybody else including the minorities and including those who don’t agree with you. So whether you are the ruling party, if the opposition party is being harassed, stand on the principle that nobody should be harassed whether you agree with them or not. So that whether it is the State media or the public media or the private media which is being mistreated, those who want a future in which they are not mistreated must stand up for those who are mistreated. If you want non violence in our politics, you must condemn all violence even if it being perpetuated by people you are associated with so that you buy your credibility,” said Akashambatwa.