A few weeks ago, the Zambian National Under-20 football- team took to the international stage to showcase Zambian football talent. Whilst watching them we Zambians knew no tribe, we knew no political affiliation. We rallied behind the team because they were Zambian and they represented the best of what we are as a nation. We were united in victory and in defeat; proud of what we had achieved, proud of our flag. Similarly, fifty-three years ago the people of Northern Rhodesia – people of every race, tribe, gender and creed, formed a union under one flag. One Zambia, One Nation. We shared a common dream for peace, unity and prosperity for all our people. Now that we are back to the ordinary business of our every-day lives, once again the divisions along tribal and political lines are becoming evident. We have reached a point in our history where our flag no longer represents a symbol of our common purpose and identity. The ugliness of hatred and division threatens to lower our flag to half• mast.
With the re-introduction of multi-party democracy in Zambia in 1991 under a new constitution, Zambia became a beacon of hope for the African continent. This reputation was cemented by successive peaceful elections and smooth transfers of power. The Oasis Forum recalls how the people of Zambia were able to use their voices to stop President Chiluba from committing an assault on the constitutional order of this country to give himself a third term in office. We were once a democracy. Today our democracy is slipping away while many of us watch along the side-lines feeling helpless, voiceless and afraid. The institutions of government mandated to serve us: the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are lamentably failing to meet the expectations of the people. Our “democratic” institutions are falling far short of upholding the tenets of democracy and the rule of law. A vicious rivalry between the warring political parties of the ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition United Party for National Development has become the order of the day and it is we, the people of Zambia, who are suffering. Our youth have no jobs, our health facilities are poorly staffed and poorly stocked, our children’s standard of education is falling, our freedoms are being abused and infringed upon, and our peace, once a source of great pride is now under threat. We now live under a cloud of fear that prevents us from expressing who we really are.
The Bemba people have a saying,
lmbwa ya mukali tayi chenjela
Loosely translated it means that a child raised to be fearful of his parents will not prosper. We are indeed a very poor nation in every respect. Gone is our national pride. We have come to a point in time where we have to choose prosperity over poverty; peace and unity over destruction and despair. That choice is the power that lies in the hands of every Zambian citizen, regardless of race, tribe, creed, gender or political affiliation, to say that enough is enough. If we do not participate in the governance of our country, we will only have ourselves to blame if we lose all that we hold dear. Silence is consent.
We must speak out to reclaim our nation and once again raise our flag as a symbol of our national pride.
Zambia is bigger than any individual in the nation. We call upon all our leaders across party lines to say that we want peace, we want stability, we want unity, we want to be Zambian again. Political leadership should not only be about amassing votes; it should be about serving the people. As stated in the biblical parable of the faithful servant: to whom much is given, much is expected. Our leaders in the government and in the opposition hold the fate of the nation in their hands and we the people of Zambia expect them to use their power wisely, above selfish interest, in the best interests of every Zambian citizen.e, the Oasis Forum, are calling on all Zambians from all walks of life irrespective of tribe, religion, race, gender or political affiliation to stand up for a Zambia that we can be proud of. United as ‘One Zambia, One Nation’. We are calling on Zambians to participate in the Oasis Forum’s lawful peace-building initiatives that will be rolled out over the next few weeks to reaffirm that our voice matters and that we are indeed stronger in unity, stronger as one. God bless Zambia!
Linda C. Kasonde
CHAIRPERSON – OASIS FORUM
Issued On 15th June, 201 7 in Lusaka on behalf of Convenors:
1. Rev. Suzanne Mata le – General Secretary (CCZ)
2. Ms. Linda Kasonde – President (LAZ)
3. Ms. Sara Longwe – Board Chairperson (NGOC()
4. Fr. Cleophas Lungu – Secretary General (ZCCB)