By Hillary Mulenga
When Rupiah Banda became president of the Republic of Zambia, he swore to defend the constitution. Consequently, he became a national leader by declaring to defend that piece of document which is the rule of our land. Although he is affiliated to the MMD, his primary duty is to the nation.
This places him in an awkward situation when he keeps quiet over issues that border on matters of national interest such as the disrespect of the rule of law. Apparently, his continued silence over the threats by a section of overenthusiastic MMD cadres to manhandle a Catholic bishop is an abrogation of his duties and an implied appetite for violence. Zambians, who have mandated him with the nation’s stewardship, have every right to question his occupancy of Plot One if he fails to perform his duties to protect the rule of law.
The nation is now aware that the MMD has declared a cold war on its opponents such as the Catholic clergy. But that cold war is not an isolated issue. Suppose that the MMD militia manhandle Mongu Catholic bishop Paul Duffy. That will be an attack on freedom of expression and a confirmation that the MMD has become so allergic to criticism that it will even violently deal with its opponents. It will only be a confirmation because already the so called MMD militia has dealt with its opponents in Mufumbwe and other places.
It is becoming clear that the Rupiah Banda and the MMD have adopted a dangerous philosophy of prolonging their stay in power. A certain ‘MMD narcissism’ that overrides national interests has become so amalgamated with the nature of the ruling party. It seems that MMD has become so self-absorbed that it wishes everybody could worship it. The sad story does not end there. The office of the president, the police, the judiciary and other wings of government have become instruments of this narcissism. Even simple State functions have become so ‘MMD-nised’ that they have lost their meaning to Zambians. National events like the Independence Day have become functions for heaping praise and adoring the MMD.
It is not fallacious to presume that the MMD as a party in government think they own Zambia. Remember the UNIP days when even membership in a market was determined by one’s affiliation to that party. With that similar attitude, it is not difficult to bully people into worshipping your party. And when there is a negative response from your supposed worshipers, everything is possible. That is why the MMD finds it so difficult to put up with criticism and threatens to deal with it violently. Every Zambian should think, eat, drink and sleep like the MMD otherwise… One only needs to refer to the violence with which it has attacked its critics including the Catholic clergy.
But the more one tries to impose an ideology on others, the more isolated that ideology is. Beginning from the Roman Empire that tried to force people to worship its rulers right to communism, that declared death to God, human minds have always objected forced ideologies. No matter how much Rupiah Banda supports violent efforts to force people to love the MMD, people will always object. Apparently, a human mind is so free that efforts to cage it are always fruitless.
What more can one say about a government that perceives its critics as a danger to its existence? Nazism thrived on the gassing of Jews because it perceived them as a danger to its existence. Joseph Stalin launched the famous “Great Purge” to eliminate all the opponents of the Communist Party. Shaka Zulu dealt ruthlessly with those he perceived as his enemies. History is all there to tell us that an imposition of an ideology always turns to violence when it disrespects challenge or criticism.
In short, Rupiah Banda’s narcissistic MMD will never achieve anything but breed trouble for him and for the nation. Instead, he has every opportunity to put his house in order and avoid a possible date with the International Criminal Court (ICC) should his militia begin attacking its opponents. He only needs to act as president of the Republic Zambia for once.