The Time for Political Maturity in PF is Now
The past weeks we have seen a full attack by some sections of the media launched at the Minister of Finance, Hon. Alexander Bwalya Chikwanda, MP. A number of people, perhaps seeking media access and national attention, have been lined up and quoted in some sections of the media denouncing and calling for the resignation of Mr. Chikwanda, accusing him of some ‘sins’ he is purported to be committing in his private ‘businesses’.
The strange thing, however, is that this it is the same media houses that not so long ago sang and wrote long love articles in praise of Mr. Chikwanda, calling him a “revolutionary without qualification” and a “A revolutionary without ego, one who has always been ready to serve his people and his homeland in any way and in any capacity”. Alas, suddenly, the revolutionary is now the villain, and is being attached left right and centre. Decoys have been used in this attach, from spiritual leaders seeking media attention to opposition party leaders that need to ‘check-in’ with the media lest they become obsolete.
I had recently criticized Mr. Chikwanda’s handling of the economy, and must say that until now have not been keenly aware of him as a leader, only to the point of acknowledging that he did, in the past, and as praised by the now critical media, an exemplary job as district governor for Chavuma upon graduating with a degree in economics from Sweden when many not so qualified folks opted for jobs in the city. However, since his criticism in the media, his response, composure and mature handling of the whole hoo-hah has made me see the other side of the man: A mature well nurtured politician. Perhaps he remains one of the few surviving old folks that can handle national matters and sail our nation to political maturity.
Over the past days, the few people I have spoken to have referred to Hon. Chikwanda as a “mentor”, while many others saw him as more than that, and have often referred to him as an “advocate” in politics. These conversations got me thinking about leadership, and in particular, the need for maturity in the PF leadership during such a moment when mutiny seems to be taking a heavy toll in the absence of their supreme leader.
A mentor in politics would have taken their leadership to the next level and chosen to intentionally invest in the lives of others. They encourage, equip, envision, inspire and engage others to be the best they can be. They recognize their responsibility as a leader to help others be their best. Their leadership is not about them, but about those they lead. This is what some have referred Chikwanda as.
An Advocate, on the other hand, would have taken their mentorship to the highest level possible – they mentor others, but also advocate on their behalf to open up opportunities for advancement. This can be in the form of promotions, recommendations, referrals, or any other means by which the leader leverages their authority and influence to create opportunities for those they are mentoring. This I have seen Hon. Chikwanda do when as Minister of Finance he recommended the appointment of Dr. Caleb Fundanga as Executive Director for the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI). Without ministerial recommendation, such a position is not feasible.
An “advocate” is someone who pleads for or on behalf of another, who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, who promotes another – they are a proponent, a backer, a champion. An Advocate leader champions the cause of those they lead. That doesn’t mean an Advocate leader does the work for those they lead so people can follow along effortlessly in their wake. No, an Advocate leader champions others because he/she believes in a person, so they create opportunities for those they lead to prove their ability and move forward. Clearly, Mr. Chikwanda, aside his economic governance mishaps, has proven to be an effective advocate leader.
The disappearance of HE. Michael Sata from the active scene has created some form of mutiny in the PF, and this is affecting the nation at large. There is a dire need for mature leadership. Now, more than ever, we need forward thinking leadership.
With 50 years of self-governance in sight, part of growing up as a forward looking nation that is intent on building a sustainable democracy solely rests in our political leaders’ ability to exhibit political maturity; Maturity in how they conduct themselves in the administration of Zambia’s public affairs and maturity in how they deal with their colleagues and opponents, real or imaginary.
Clearly, time is long overdue for members of the PF, the party in power, to realise that they must show each other mutual respect. With mutual respect, only then will we, the electorate being represented by them respect them, and likewise, respect each other irrespective of who our favouroite politicians are. The time for shadow boxing isn’t now.
There is need for the current leadership to put their country first. The Zambian electorate has for long clearly demanded that leaders be selfless in their dealings and heed the call to put national issues before personal and political agendas.
Selflessness in governance and a genuine concern for the welfare of others results in less partisanship in governance. And this is what Zambia needs, besides, we only have one Zambia.
What is obvious, however, is that the current practice if partisan politics has left us a deeply divided nation, and strangely, even intra-party divisions are emerging. These intra-party divisions have potential to spill over outside the party and cause further nationwide divisions. If we wish for citizens to improve on their divided social interaction and bridge the communications gap, our political leaders have to set the example for us to follow. With less partisanship in governance comes the elimination of victimization in our society.
Most of our people are less impressed with how something is said or how it sounds or how well written it is on a newspaper headline. They are more concerned with what is done based on what has been said. The electorates ought not to be impressed with the eloquence of our politician’s speech, extensive vocabulary nor their unrestricted access to private and friendly media. We should be impressed with how well the affairs of the nation are being managed by those we have entrusted leadership with.
To truly achieve the goal of national building and dealing with the many challenges facing our country, all leaders, particularly those in the ruling party must work together. Maturity in politics entails that mutual cooperation is the order of the day, where the national Zambian agenda supersedes personal agendas being fought in the media.
To achieve a mature democracy we all so desire, we must learn to appreciate that it is acceptable to attack each other’s ideas, but it is not acceptable to verbally or physically, or through our alliance media houses, to attack the individual putting forth the idea. Clearly, the attacks on the Hon. Minister by those hiding behind their friendly media houses are a show of political immaturity that has not place in modern Zambian politics.
My respect and admiration for Hon. Chikwanda’s political maturity, even when discounted for his shortcomings in the managing the economy, has grown considerably over the past two weeks. Clearly, he has exhibited the character of a sober, mature and sane leader that the party and the country needs in times of high uncertainty-both economic and political. Such maturity brewed with mentorship and advocacy should be emulated by his peers, in both the PF and the opposition.
Indeed, Hon. Alexander Chikwanda is a revolutionary without qualification.