By Dr Eustone Chiputa
ACIENT Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 BCE – 322), once said practical wisdom is the sine qua non of leadership. That leaders must see what is good for themselves and for their people.
Good leaders listen to all their people’s noises; they pay very special attention to their people’s silence. Good leaders know that still waters run deep!
Good leaders try to understand why their people are silent; they do not assume that silence means consent! They ask: are the people silent because they are happy? Or are the people silent because they say silence is golden?
These are very pertinent introspective questions that require critical evaluation.
In a democracy like Zambia, a key safety valve that citizens use to choose and check leaders is voting every five years. Zambia’s democracy is different from an absolute monarchy or a dictatorship where citizens may resort to rebellion or coup d’états to resolve leadership challenges.
In Zambia, citizens elect new leaders or re-elect or even reject sitting leaders. Citizens take into account various factors that affect their daily lives in their voting choices. These factors range from economic, social, political, cultural and personal considerations.
2021 elections open on May 14
As the floodgates of political campaigns for the August 12, 2021 elections open on May 14, leaders across the political spectrum should pay particular attention to the silence of the voting majority.
There is not much need to continually hear the usual noises; all of us have heard these noises. What we have all not heard is the loudest noise of the voters; the unspoken word of the people – their silence!
Those who write, those who speak on television and radio, in civil society organisations or non-governmental organisations, and those with voices on various political, economic and cultural platforms are not the voting majority! Yet, these voices are critical and integral components of our democracy.
Nonetheless, the voting majority are out there in the community, in the markets, on the streets on buses, in the agricultural fields tending their crops and livestock.
The silent voting majority are out there on the lakes, rivers, swamps, islands, fish ponds, in the factories, offices, mines, forests, schools, colleges, universities and all other parts of this vast republic eking out a living but consciously awaiting the August 12, 2021 election day.
These are not people who will vote with their feet; they will vote with their minds, their brains. Of course some may vote with their stomachs! Silent they are now, but they will arise and just decisively do one four-letter act – Vote!
They will fall silent again, but their act will devastate some politicians and exalt others.
Winning the August 12 elections
The citizen’s silent vote will translate into whether or not the Patriotic Front government will stand or fall; whether or not any of the opposition political parties will win or perish into oblivion.
Winning the August 12 elections requires discernment of the people’s silent cries, silent ululations, silent dancing or silent stomping of feet in response to the tirades of political campaign rhetoric throughout the nation.
The silent majority voters have elephant memories of where we are coming from. They have King Solomon’s wisdom of which leaders have the capacity to take Zambia to the promised land of economic prosperity, national unity, peace and tranquility.
As politicians engage the electorate during campaigns, they must hearken to the silence of the voting majority as the loudest noise of the 2021 campaign.
They must “hear” the silence of the people. They must premise their campaign messages on the silent needs of the people. They should heed the silent calls of the youth whose voices are echoing for job creation and empowerment; these are the majority on the electoral roll, after all!
Marketeers in Lusaka
The majority Zambians are silently clamouring for affordable and stable food and other commodity prices. They want adequate and non-exploitative access to markets for their food, raw materials and finished products. Marketeers in Lusaka want their City Market rebuilt and Simon Mwewa Lane Market completed and handed to beneficiaries like yesterday.
Air travellers also want the Kenneth Kaunda and the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International airports completed, even to quench the anxiety of pilots failing to resist the temptation to land on incomplete state of the art airports!
As political campaigns heat up, candidates and their political parties must heed the clarion call by the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation and all concerned to ensure that they observe all the health protocols.
Politicians must conscientise citizens about the health benefits of vaccination against the Corona Virus so that the majority of those who attend their rallies are vaccinated and safe.
They must not turn their campaign rallies into super-spreader cesspools of the Corona Virus. They must not turn the post-August 12 election period into one of national mourning instead of celebration.
Corona Virus infections and deaths
This has happened elsewhere and the people there are battling unprecedented Corona Virus infections and deaths, and our hearts go out to them for such tragedies. Politicians must “hear” the Zambian people’s loudest message, silence, and take it with the greatest caution.