In the previous article where we discussed the growth of tourism under the Patriotic Front (PF), I made a side comment about how intra-party democracy goes with over-all development as well as how PF is a bastion and model of intra-party democracy; while other parties with Life Presidents are mere “Tourists, sight-seers and voyeurs of Democracy” because they don’t practice democratic principles within their respective parties.
I also made a commitment to discuss the matter in a future article. It’s pertinent and topical nature has compelled me to discuss it sooner rather than later!
Patriotic Front as a Model of Democracy
Political parties provide the basic building block and DNA in a Multi-party Democracy. The characteristics of Zambia’s democracy are therefore a function of the characteristics of intra-party democratic or their lack thereof.
Whereas other political parties exist to promote the ambitions and aggrandisement of certain individuals who have even go to the extent of institutionalizing dictatorship by manipulating indefinite term clauses into their constitutions; the Patriotic Front has demonstrated practical commitment to promoting, democracy and good governance internally and externally. The Patriotic Front therefore stands out undisputed, not just as the most Democratic Party in Zambia; but more poignantly as the only Democratic Party in our nation.
As His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu highlighted in his opening speech at the recent Elective PF Copperbelt Province Party Conference:
“Let me remind you and through you, all our members across this great nation that as Patriotic Front no one can dare challenge us when we say we remain Zambia’s most Democratic Party, incomparable to none. Show me a Democratic Party in Zambia and I’ll show you Patriotic Front!”
“Patriotic Front, at an intra-party level has always gone back to the people to renew its mandate. All structures from the Section, Branches, Wards, Constituencies, Districts, Provinces and Central Committee are subjected to regular and free intraparty democratic elections, a feature so alien in some Parties which still enjoy life Presidency.”
The President of the Patriotic Front – who is also the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Zambia further reflected on the entrenched nature of democracy in the party;
“Even when the darkest cloud hovered over Patriotic Front after the death of our colossus, President Michael Chilufya Sata, it was intraparty democracy which birthed his successor in the name of Edgar Chagwa Lungu. In other Political Parties, just my name which comes from a different part of Zambia as that of our founding leader could have prevented me from standing here today as your President. It was not tribal or material consideration that got us to be here today, it was the values we have held on to as a Party since inception: Oneness beyond tribe, religion, gender or colour. If Edgar Chagwa Lungu, with an Eastern heritage could contest in intraparty elections and succeed Michael Chilufya Sata, a northerner, then every Zambian from every tribe can be assured that Patriotic Front has a place for them to aspire and contest too.”
President Lungu’s observations are sober reminder of what holds the Patriotic Front together-democracy. While others are blindly driven by dogmatic regional inclinations as well as cult personality and the questionable fleeting wealth of an elitist few; PF is driven by entrenched democratic principles across its structures represented in the length and breadth of Zambia. This national intra-party democratic attribute has engendered a sense of ownership and belonging by the majority poor and people across the social strata.
PF- A PRO POOR PARTY
Patriotic Front is the people; and the people are Patriotic Front. We exist for the Poor among us. The Party demands hard work, honest, sacrifice and self-reliance in all activities to improve the living conditions and ensure greater benefits to the people of Zambia.
In the words of President Lungu:
“I want to reassure that Patriotic Front shall never depart from its purpose for existence as a Pro-Poor Party.”
“Yes at times as the Patriotic Front we will take tough and painful decisions but this will only be done because the bigger picture tells us that poor Zambians will benefit in the long run. I want to reassure that we are unstoppable in our quest to create a better life for all Zambians, both young and old.”
Our Commitment to Constitutionalism
Patriotic Front has demonstrated its commitment to good governance and constitutional democracy, which includes upholding the rule of law, separation of powers, respect for human rights, free and fair elections as well as political stability.
As President Lungu said:
“We promised and delivered a people-driven Constitution when some doubted that our word was our bond. Under the Constitution of Zambia of 2016 which your Government delivered to the Zambian people, our laws seek to promote more democratic political parties.”
Under Article 60 (1) (c) of the Zambian Constitution, the law demands that Political Parties have the right to “conduct primary elections for the selection of candidates”.
Under Article 60 (2) (b, c, d, e, f and g) of the Zambian Constitution, the law demands that political parties shall:
b. have a national character;
c. promote and uphold national unity;
d. promote and practice democracy through regular, free and fair elections within the party;
e. respect the right of its members to participate in the affairs of the political party;
f. respect the right of its members to seek redress from a court or tribunal when aggrieved by a decision of the political party;
The Pf Eschews Personality Politics and Embraces Politics of Substance
Because of our democratic nature, we yearn for more robust engagement on things that matter to the Zambian people. In that regard, that our President reiterated our clarion call for issue-based politics from those whose awesome duty it is to hold us in Government accountable.
PF has further demonstrated that accountability and transparency are key elements in fulfilling our people-given mandate. We have continued to show our commitment to promotion of dialogue and peaceful coexistence of political parties. This is because from our founding, we have held the strong belief that democracy is about engaging in robust and healthy political discourse and not acrimonious altercation devoid of substance.
That is why as a party, we have refused to be bogged down by any mudslinging, name-calling and card stacking politics aimed at stalling development. Zambia at 54 must do away with personality politics by embracing politics of substance.
Undemocratic Cults Of Personality Are unlikely to form Government
It has widely been observed that a Political Party that adheres to intra-party democracy like PF is more likely to form and remain in Government than one that does not.
This is because a political party that does not practice intra-party democracy cannot be trusted by the people to respect and promote democracy if they formed Government. Charity begins at home and this is true for democracy!
How can political parties that do not practice intra-party democracy effectively participate in the growth of our national democracy when they have not held intraparty elections for more than a decade ; some of them since 2005?
How can they give what they do not have?
The Patriotic Front shall continue to be the leading political force and it shall continue to be the revolutionary organization it is, because internal participatory democracy shall continue to be rigidly and strictly maintained; wielded together by patriotism and the voluntary acceptance of belonging to it.
To echo His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu:
Once again I say Give me a Party that adheres to the(democratic) demands placed on political parties by the Country’s supreme law – And I will give you the Patriotic Front!
Therefore no one dare challenge us when we affirm that the Patriotic Front remains Zambia’s number one (1) Party of Choice – Head and shoulder above any other!
(The Author is Patriotic Front Secretary General)