I wish to join other Zambians in expressing my heartfelt grief upon the passing of President Michael C. Sata. It is really another dark chapter in our beloved country’s history!
With respect to the issue concerning the person who is supposed to act as Republican President during the 90-day period leading to the election of the next Republican President, Hon. Guy Scott is constitutionally the right person to assume the functions of the presidency as stipulated in Article 38(2) of the 1996 Republican Constitution as follows:
“Whenever the office of the President becomes vacant, the Vice-President or, in the absence of the Vice-President or if the Vice President is unable, by reason of physical or mental infirmity, to discharge the functions of his office, a member of the Cabinet elected by the Cabinet shall perform the functions of the office of the President until a person elected as President in accordance with Article 34 assumes office.”
As members of the Zambian family and members of a civilized society, I trust that we will remain calm and peaceful during this very difficult time of national mourning. I also trust that political leaders will dissuade their supporters from engaging in politically motivated violence, because such violence is likely to destroy our beloved country if we fail to make a resolute attempt to address its underlying causes.
Allow me to re-state what I have identified before in my previous articles as some of the salient causes of politically motivated violence, including the tendency by some Zambians to consider other citizens who have dissenting political views, as well as those who belong to other political parties, as “enemies” rather than “patriots” who also have a stake and a genuine interest in the future of our beloved country.
The real enemies of our beloved country today are not any given individuals or groups of individuals; and they are certainly not any given political parties, foreign countries, non-governmental organizations, or a particular political or economic ideology. Rather, our real enemies are poverty, hunger, ignorance, illiteracy, disease, widespread unemployment, crime, corruption, and moral decay.
Politically motivated violence has also been exacerbated by intolerance, lack of respect for the rule of law, and an inability, on the part of perpetrators, to reach compromises with people who have dissenting views.
Besides, the tendency by some half-baked politicians to demonize and/or stigmatize political opponents has tended to incite political supporters against those who are labeled as political malcontents.
Moreover, politically motivated violence has been perpetrated against some leaders within political parties merely because they are often seen mixing with leaders from other political parties. But how on earth can a relative, a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, or a fellow worshipper become an “enemy” simply because he or she happens to belong to one of the other political parties in the country?
And the fact that political cadres are readily available to be used by their leaders to engage in violence on a regular basis in exchange for booze, a bag of corn meal, or a few pieces of silver attests to the unprecedented lack of decent means of earning a living—an issue which the next Republican president will need to address by devising simple, practical and commonsense solutions to our beloved country’s socioeconomic malaise.
Each and every one of us has a civic duty and obligation to confront politically motivated violence head-on in order to maintain the viability of our nascent democracy. Political leaders particularly have an enormous role to play in this endeavor; in the pursuit of their political ambitions, for example, they need to walk the walk in exhibiting a high level of tact and utmost respect in their dealings with political opponents and other members of society.
We should all learn to promote and propagate our political views in a manner that honors and acknowledges other citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to participate in the political process.
The author, Henry Kyambalesa, is a Zambian academic currently living in the City and County of Denver in the State of Colorado, USA.