The closure of Mwenya Musenge’s club business in Kitwe cannot be justified. This is vindictiveness that no democratic society should tolerate.
But this isn’t an isolated case. This is the way those who are seen to be opposed to Edgar Lungu or critical of him are treated.
We have many friends of this newspaper who are scared to do business with it for fear of being victimised. They tell us that if they place advertisements in this newspaper, they will lose government business and the Zambia Revenue Authority will be set on them. And when it comes to such matters, we tell our friends to do whatever suits their immediate business and financial interests. We know how cruel this regime is or can be. They don’t mind people they see as political enemies starving to death. We don’t want anybody to have difficulties on account of us. We don’t have such problems, and Edgar Lungu’s regime has run out of ways to make things more difficult for us. We can take our time until those friends of ours decide that the right time has come for renewing business dealings. We think this is the best way to show our newspaper’s sincere and selfless attitude. It won’t do us any harm to wait. They should handle the issue of doing business with us in the way that best suits their businesses and the solution of their most pressing business and financial problems.
And there has been talk of ensuring that Musenge’s political party is not registered. Why should this be so? They have expelled him from their party and they don’t want him to start a new political life in a new political party! What type of cruelty is this?
Musenge has a constitutional right to join hands with nine other qualifying citizens and form a new political party. And the role of government institutions in this is purely to facilitate the process and ensure that the requirements of the law are met. They are not licencing agencies who can accept or reject an application. But because of their undemocratic nature and abuse of power, they seem to think they have right to stop Musenge from registering his political party.
There’s need to understand what a political party is. A political party is an association formed by a group of people who share the same ideas about the country’s governance. Every Zambian citizen holds a constitutional right to organise like-minded citizens to form a political party and to attain some common political goals. The right to form a political party is derived from the constitutional right of association, free speech and equal protection.
A political party is a voluntary association formed out of the free will and consent of those who created it. A political party upholds certain principles regarding public policies of a government. A political party seeks to attain and maintain political power within a government. Political parties are only political instrumentalities and they are in no sense government agencies, because they only provide nominees for the people to vote in the general elections. Nomination of members by a political party for a general election is not a state’s business as the state knows no parties. But, of course, are not mere political instrumentalities as they in many respects act as state agencies.
The reason behind creating guidelines for a political party is to protect the state’s substantial interest in preventing purely frivolous and insubstantial attempts to designate party affiliation on the registration form. Looking at things this way, it’s difficult to understand this vindictiveness, cruelty. Is it not enough for them to expel Musenge from the Patriotic Front? Do they really need to follow him everywhere and stop or frustrate whatever he tries to do? Do they really need to destroy his businesses and render him destitute? Why do they want to stop or frustrate his efforts to form a political?
And if they can treat Musenge, who was their friend and party colleague, in this vindictive and cruel way, what should those they have never been close to expect?
But there should be limits to vindictiveness, cruelty. Pope Francis said, “Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.” We agree. The politics of vindictiveness is never, ever anything like a solution. Human beings lose their logic in their vindictiveness. This is very dangerous because Edgar and his minions by all accounts know no restraint in “crushing like a tonne of bricks” any perceived enemy, anyone seen as trying to stand in their way, and, it would seem, nobody or nothing can protect one from their vindictiveness, cruelty. The vindictive nature that drives one to crush a fellow citizen like a tonne of bricks is dangerous. And all cruelty springs from weakness, not from strength.