Laura Miti, Alliance for Community Action executive director, says that those that have taken away the democratic space would not give it back to citizens for free.
“This government that we have now is the most dictatorial between Kaunda and now. It is the one that has shrunk democratic space. So, if we expect that President Lungu and his Cabinet are going to give us back our democratic space for free, it will not happen. We must demand for our democratic space and if we must protest peacefully, we must! We can’t afford to be scared, we can’t be fearful [because] democracy will not come for free,”
“So, the democratic space in Zambia has died not so much because of power holders but because of right holders. It is our inability to demand and protect our space.”
If we desire a nation that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end. Where you see wrong or injustice, speak out because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on. Those who expect to reap the blessings of democracy must undergo the fatigue of supporting it, promoting it, defending it. It is said that people fight for democracy and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves. It is easy to take democracy for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. Any existence deprived of democracy is a kind of death.
Ronald Reagan said, “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” And a democracy can’t exist without free speech and the right to assemble. And that’s what Americans tend to forget. And they’re born into a culture where they take all of their freedoms for granted. We should never be afraid to raise our voices for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If all of us would do this, Edgar Lungu’s dictatorship, tyranny would not last longer than candlelight would last in a storm. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the tyrants, the dictators, never the victim. Silence encourages the abusers, never the abused. Nothing strengthens tyranny so much as silence.
Desmond Tutu said,
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
It’s said that to sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” If you were to remain silent, you could be guilty of complicity.
Malcolm X said,
“I learned early that crying out in protest could accomplish things. My older brothers and sister had started to school when, sometimes, they would come in and ask for a buttered biscuit or something and my mother, impatiently, would tell them no. But I would cry out and make a fuss until I got what I wanted. I remember well how my mother asked me why I couldn’t be a nice boy like Wilfred; but I would think to myself that Wilfred, for being so nice and quiet, often stayed hungry. So early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
Protest is when you say, “I don’t like this.” Resistance is when you put an end to what you don’t like. Protest is when you say, “I refuse to go along with this anymore.” Resistance is when you make sure everybody else stops going along too.
Martin Luther King Jr said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Democracy is never granted; it is won.
Michael Moore tells us, “Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event. If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy.” It is said that democracy is liberty – a liberty which does not infringe on the liberty nor encroach on the rights of others; a liberty which maintains strict discipline and makes law its guarantee and the basis of its exercise. This alone is true liberty; this alone can produce true democracy.
George Orwell wrote, “It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic, we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.”
As we are witnessing, democracy is a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from dictatorship, tyranny. And it is said that the death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.
Woodrow Wilson said, “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”
And Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”
And Carl Fagan opined, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”