Patriotic Front deputy media director Antonio Mwanza says Edgar Lungu is “extremely tolerant” to his critics but has the ability to hit back, so much that one can faint.“This is a President who has been so tolerant to an extent that we have got people like Mr Chishimba Kambwili who insults the President every day. Ngati kwacha chabe basakila matusi yotukwana President (every morning they are looking for insults to use against the President) and you have never heard the President retaliate, you have never heard the President raise his voice. Not that he (President Lungu) is weak, not that he can’t hit back; he can hit back that you can faint! But this is a President who is extremely tolerant,” says Antonio.Is Edgar really tolerant of opposition, dissent or criticism?Look at what he did to The Post and Dr Fred M’membe!Has Antonio forgotten how Edgar mistreated Hakainde Hichilema and locked him up on the most ridiculous, malicious trumped up treason charges?Why is Antonio failing to see how Edgar is harassing, humiliating and torturing Kambwili?And one can have the courage to say Edgar is very tolerant!To move our country forward in all areas of human endeavour we need tolerance, consensus-building and cooperation.There is a need to promote these values cutting across political, ideological and social differences, in all walks of life, including in politics and governance.We also need eternal vigilance against any attempt by anybody to assault these values.It is our collective duty to ensure that democracy and fundamental freedoms of citizens in Zambia are not infringed.A lot has also been said about the obvious and undeniable right of Zambian citizens to criticise, protest and denounce government decisions and actions.When in power, Zambian political parties would prefer that dissenting citizens keep their views to themselves even when sub-optimal decisions are being made.The protection of individuals’ rights, including those of individuals we dislike or with whom we strongly disagree, has often been a struggle in Zambia.There’s a tendency by those in government and the ruling political party to support the abnegation of rights for the opposition and dissenting voices.Political tolerance is the willingness to extend basic rights and civil liberties to persons and groups whose viewpoints differ from one’s own. It is a central tenet of a liberal democracy. The individual rights and freedoms that Zambian citizens value encourage a wide array of ideas and beliefs, some of which may offend segments of the population. The expression of those beliefs is protected by another core democratic principle, that of majority rule with respect for the rights of individuals or groups in the minority. Without safeguards for the free expression of divergent opinions, we risk a tyranny of the minority. In a free and open society, public deliberation exposes “bad” ideas instead of suppressing them.The main challenge, in our view, of making political tolerance a viable reality in Zambia is an ability on the part of politicians to establish and nurture explicit connections between abstract civil liberties and concrete situations.Taking a tolerant stance is one of the more difficult tasks Zambians, especially those in the ruling party, face. We are probably not born tolerant, but must learn to be tolerant. As public representatives, politicians are expected – and quite rightly so – to lead by example.Political intolerance comes in many forms, including “financial intolerance”.Business should not have to take clue or intimidation from some quarters and should be able to support whichever party they wanted. They should be equally able to decline financial support to political organisations at will.Lack of political tolerance is a big problem in Zambia, especially under this government of Edgar. It manifests itself when those in power abuse the police and the public order Act to deny political space to opposition parties, when political parties do not tolerate dissent from their membership and, more generally, through a rejection of different views.We urgently need to create a culture of tolerance in society, and political life in particular.All citizens, including political leaders, have a responsibility to practice political tolerance in their words and actions. As a clear rejection of “might makes right,” political tolerance is a key principle of democracy.As an ideal, democracy upholds that members of the society should treat each other, and be treated, as equals. Underlying democracy is the acceptance and respect of the other. Democratic life is both the right to differ as well as the acceptance of such difference by all. Democracy implies respect for the plurality of views and virtues of dialogue as a means of resolving conflict.Political intolerance is engendered by a willingness to restrict the rights of a disliked person or group based on their differing views. It represents a threat to democracy since it discriminates against and may even silence certain parts of the population. Intolerance creates a conformist culture and a closed society, which narrows citizens’ perceptions of politics and shapes their subsequent behaviour.A culture of tolerance involves debate and dynamic exchanges of opinions and arguments, whereby people can learn from others, get closer to the truth, and benefit from a vital public life. Developing a culture of tolerance is a long term undertaking that removes the roots of intolerance and is necessary for the democratic process.Education and political participation can cultivate tolerance among our people. We can help to eliminate hatred by promoting dialogue among our people.Citizens who have more opportunities to practice and observe tolerance are more appreciative of and committed to tolerance and respect for others’ rights. Our political parties can contribute to the overall democratic learning and stability by involving their members in the democratic process and upholding the civil liberties of all groups.And a society in which freedom of expression is not guaranteed hinders political tolerance. Open dialogue and a diversity of political opinions are made possible by and reinforce a culture of tolerance.The media plays an important role in developing a culture of tolerance. Political parties, especially those in government, have a duty to allow a pluralistic media to flourish and present diverse and critical views. Encouraging a wide array of ideas and beliefs among individuals and institutions builds an equitable and non-discriminatory environment that enhances political life.