The paralysis and extreme inertia exhibited by our political parties to national issues is truly worrying.
While we accept the notion that opposition represents “Government in waiting” we do not accept that opposition is synonymous with insularity that fails to address pressing national issues afflicting the citizenry. Opposition must demonstrate an ability to set an agenda that identifies them to very specific national causes.
Our liberal democracy recognizes that government must rest on the consent of the governed, a principle which most regimes ignore soon after assuming power.
This means that the “Government in waiting” must continue to serve as a conscience of the nation and demonstrate an ability to lead reform and change for the better, by reminding regimes of their promises. They must challenge government policies and provide another perspective on policy issues even if there is no foreseeable hope that their party will attain power.
Opposition parties need to present themselves as credible and responsible alternative government. In doing so, they must acknowledge their responsibility not just to reflect, but also to lead, public opinion. It is this attribute that won UNIP , MMD and indeed PF office. They articulated issues close to the people.
That is why Zambians do not expect opposition parties to be passive recipients of decrees and policies that work against their interest.Zambians look longingly at such parties as the Democratic Alliance (DA) in South Africa which has taken it upon itself to champion “people’s” causes. At the time of writing this editorial the DA was approaching the Western Cape High Court for an order compelling the public works department to hand over a report into the more than US$20million upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.
Acting in her personal capacity, as the leader of the opposition in Parliament, and in the public interest,” Lindiwe Mazibuko has gone to court with respondents as Zuma, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, and his department’s director-general.
Mazibuko, like the other interested parties have found it difficult to get a report of the controversial upgrades of Nkandla and have now resorted to the courts. They are now asking the Government to hand over the report within the next five days.
This is the role our opposition parties should be playing in keeping the Government accountable to the people of Zambia, but given the same circumstances our opposition parties would have maintained their studious silence.