WHEN the Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution (SACCORD) says the bootlicking syndrome must stop in Zambian politics so that leaders are told the truth, they are right.
Due to bootlickers, political leaders do not get correct information of what is prevailing on the ground for them to make informed decisions that will yield positive results.
It is the nation that suffers.
It is unfortunate that bootlicking, though an unwelcome syndrome has taken root in the country.
It is practiced in all organisations mostly by those who feel insecure and believe that the only way to make themselves relevant is by endearing themselves with those at the head.
But we believe the worst damage committed by bootlickers in within the political circles and no politician can claim they are free from this syndrome.
The irony of it all is that politicians appear to enjoy having bootlickers around them because it boosts their ego.
Bootlickers in the political circles have nothing to offer in terms of building the country. All they do is create barriers around their benefactors.
The warning by the SACCORD Executive Director, Mr Bornface Cheembe that sugar-coated information aimed at appeasing leaders is deadly as it leads to devastating outcomes because it gives a false sense of security is timely.
And politicians can only disregard this advice at their own peril.
Mr Cheembe advised that political party members have the responsibility to ensure that they give correct information to leaders, more especially those in government where development is concerned.
He noted that it is cardinal that in a democracy, the right information is channeled so that whatever decisions are made for the well-being of the nation is premised on correct information.
There are examples stretching from the country’s independence that bootlickers have been major contributors to the failings or downfall of most Presidents.
The country’s founding father Dr Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP were misled to believe that the people were with him when the nation returned to multi-partyism and faced the Movement for Multi-party Democracy in the 1991 elections.
What he had not realised was that the people did not buy into the one-party state that he had imposed, and wanted a liberalised political set-up.
The MMD under President Rupiah Banda, voted out by the Patriotic Front also became oblivious to the feelings of the majority Zambians.
The Patriotic Front has become the latest political party whose fall from grace has been attributed to bootlickers who surrounded President Edgar Lungu and fed him wrong information on what was obtaining on the ground.
As Mr Cheembe observed, and we agree, “Democracy becomes very difficult to function on the basis of misinformation and sugar-coated data. Political parties and their followers have a responsibility to inform the leadership appropriately in terms of what is pertaining on the ground.”
He urged political parties to ensure that whatever political conduct of a democratic nature they engage in, is premised on facts and most critically on what the people at that particular time desire.
While one might say the damage has already been done for UNIP, MMD and PF, the ruling UPND has a chance not to fall into the trap of bootlickers and keep an open-door policy where the top leadership is not shielded from reality.
Results can be costly, as Mr Cheembe warned.