Political leaders must work together to heal wounds of division and hatred which are dominating the political landscape, veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga has said.
He advised politicians to ‘‘avoid investing in hatred, vitriolic language and ill intentions’’ towards each other.
Dr Mwaanga said the year 2016 should be a time for reconciliation and a time when political leaders should take elections only as a contest for power with decency and caring for the people they aspire to govern.
Dr Mwaanga said in a statement yesterday that political leaders should join hands next year in rejecting and condemning what he termed merchants and high priests of violence and deny perpetrators of violence and hate speech fertile ground for their evil deeds.
In his New Year message, Dr Mwaanga said politicians should endeavour to put Zambia first in their political aspirations and start investing in peaceful elections which would not imperil and subvert the peace and stability of the country.
He said the ‘‘venomous utterances’’ by politicians amounted to nothing but arrogance which he feared was causing grave danger to the country’s unity and peace Zambians had been enjoying for many years.
Dr Mwaanga observed that Africa was still facing many challenges of poor leadership, poverty, disease, poor governance, economic misstatement, corruption, poor human rights records including failed states and it was therefore important for the continent’s political leadership to be responsible in their actions.
Dr Mwaanga regretted that political tolerance had been replaced by old and ruthless methods of winning loyalty from citizens by some irresponsible elements who he said were hell-bent on ignoring the path of peaceful persuasion and compromise to win their vote.
“My appeal to all our political leaders is that they should always bear in mind that the venomous utterances they make amount to arrogance and pose a grave danger to the national unity our country has enjoyed for many years, which our founding fathers passionately fought for and stoutly defended.
‘‘Our leaders have invested far too much in hatred, vitriolic language and ill intentions towards each other, which has taken away their focus from the real issues facing our country.
“If our leaders do not work hard and help heal the wounds of division and hatred which are on the ascendancy, the situation in our country has the potential to get worse and our people will face an uncertain future, with all its ugly facets, trials and tribulations,” Dr Mwaanga said.
He observed that the year 2015 had been a difficult one for most Zambians as the economy had not performed well in the face of local and global factors.
Dr Mwaanga said the Kwacha had received serious battering, depreciating to its lowest in decades while inflation had jumped to double digits coupled with excessive load shedding which had lowered copper production, leading to loss of jobs.
He said it was saddening that there had not been dialogue among political players in the country which could have addressed some important political issues such as violence, electoral reforms, the application of the Public Order Act and human rights abuses.
Dr Mwaanga said it was his desire and prayer that the political leadership in the country should aspire for dialogue to discuss the economy, brutality against journalists, hate and tribal speeches as well as church-State relations apart from the energy crisis that has hit the country.