People who think politics is sinking to new lows may find comfort in the fact that even our Church leaders have also repeatedly expressed concern about the debasement of this “lofty vocation.”
In Zambia, political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good. It is only about manipulation and scheming using techniques that are primarily aimed at discrediting others, preaching hate speech and lying to the population. In this craven exchange of nasty charges and countercharges among politicians, it can only be expected that debates will degenerate into a permanent state of confrontation; the result of which being political violence.
Many years ago, politics used to be a calling for people of goodwill to recognise the equal dignity of all citizens and to work together to build a world where love and care for one another as brothers and sisters thrived. Building that world required cordial interaction and dialogue processes that allowed people to speak from their hearts and experiences. It called for those who offered themselves for public office to listen to the concerns of the electors and to learn from their criticism.
Today in Zambia, hyperbole, extremism and polarisation have become common political tools, leading to a poisoned political atmosphere where one set of citizens is practically denied the right to exist or to have an opinion over governance issues.
With a cadre of political leaders who lack ideology and vision, the doltish conversations often found on social media spills over into mainstream political discourse, without society waking up to the reality of a degenerating moral decay. Things that, until a few years ago, could not be said by anyone without risking the loss of public respect can now be said with pride, and in the crudest of terms, even by those who already occupy high political office and are seeking re-election.
Our people must not settle for less because this is their country and there is no other. We encourage them to remove gullibility and naivety from their eyes to see rubbish for what it is and foolish politicians for who they are. Our Church leaders are challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbours in love, seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern. If those who are called to serve us fall short of this measure, we must push them aside and demand for better, quality leadership. Our people must not fold their hands and accept it as a new normal when politicians mock the poor and make fun of their suffering.
Our leaders speak with their mouths that we have a One Zambia One Nation, a country of equal opportunities. They tell citizens that they are running a government premised on pro-poor policies. Yet in practice, in their decisions and the way they treat them, it clearly shows that they consider the poor as less worthy, less important, less human.
For a Christian nation, this way of thinking and acting is categorically wrong and unacceptable, as it sets political preferences above deep convictions of our faith: the inalienable dignity of each human person regardless of origin, race or religion.
It is on that score that we call on the Church leadership in this country not to tire, but to continue engaging our political leaders, challenging them to start acting like leaders. This country is lost and when you look at the conduct of leaders, it is clear that they don’t know where they are leading the population. We need the Church to set us back on course. We need to U-turn from a society where those who are being led sound wiser than their leaders.
Today, when you ask a school-going child to name a leader who inspires them, you don’t expect them to name a politicians, if they do, they will be pointing at a political leader from another country. That alone is proof that our politics have lost purpose. When leaders don’t inspire the people anymore, it is time a nation turned to God to seek cleansing.
Let us find the wisdom in this election to choose politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people and the lives of the poor!