To be human and to be alive is to be involved in politics, all the time, always. No human being lives alone. We all have one, two or more people we are closely connected to, who affect our lives and we affect theirs, and together, every day, we take decisions about things in our lives, and act on these decisions. That is “politics”.

Human beings are members of families (yes, even street people have families, believe me!).Families exist in communities with other families, and several communities make villages, towns or cities. And then of course we have districts, provinces and a country! Every individual, directly or indirectly, is connected to the politics, the struggles to arrive at decisions that affect our lives, from the family all the way to the national and international levels!

Whatever you think, whatever you do, no matter how unaware you are of your involvement in the decisions and activities of your family, community, village or town, province and country, the truth is that you are every day part of the politics – the struggle for power to control how decisions are made and the decisions themselves, throughout our planetary system.

It is absolutely important to understand that you cannot volunteer “not to be involved in politics!” as long as you are alive, and are a member of a group, community, country and live on our Earth and anywhere on its planetary system! In fact, even the decisions, after your death, about where and how your body must be disposed of are political decisions centred around your dead body. To decide not to be involved in say, political party politics, is a profound political decision one makes to give up your political power in political party politics, to others!

It is impossible to be human, to be alive, and not to be involved in politics. I realised this simple fact as early as when I was 8 years old, and have therefore all along acted always conscious of the fact that I must, whenever possible, influence decision making, and implementation of decisions, about, and in my life! At 6, I was already serving Mass as a Catholic, and learnt about the privilege and power this gave me over other Catholics, especially during Mass itself.

I very early developed a love for the simple, frugal, humble, learned, disciplined but extremely power filled life I saw priests and Catholic sisters shared in their communities and with others, as they served their flocks, and I desperately wanted to grow up, finish school and join them!

Our genuine faith leaders are the most powerful politicians in our lives! They aim to guide every one of our thoughts and actions, according to the teachings of the faith. Usually, such good men and women give up everything in their lives to “save souls” and lead them to heaven. This is how I understood Catholic priests and sisters. I admired them then, I still do, to this day!
When I went to UNZA, in my second year, I actually took the first steps towards becoming a Catholic priest. While going through my very early noviciate days it occurred to me that I was actually scared of the power Catholic priests and sisters have over other people, and I realised priesthood was not for me. I could not, I still do not, think it is humanly reasonable to expect any individual to truly practice in this world, Christianity as Jesus himself taught and lived his life! From this realisation, the rest was easy – I simply quickly abandoned my desires and goal to be a priest. I have never looked back on that decision!

There is something frighteningly reassembling the absolute power and authority any clergy have over their flock in the power and authority the presidents of our political parties have over their supporters and followers: Like any clergy, Mullahs, Rabbis and Witches, our presidents of political parties, once they create their parties or become president of their party, are president for life! Their word is law, in the political party. They control ideas, and they are in fact the “ideology” itself, of the party. More importantly, they are the chief and usually only, fund raiser of the party. They are priests of their political parties for life.

Automatically, this “president centred” political party model means all young people can only be treated like children, women like “mothers” or “wives” in the patriarchal sense, as inferior to men. In the same way that a pastor who starts a Church owns it, so does every president of a political party in Zambia.

In this scenario, young people and women must sing for, and praise the president of the party and agitate, mobilise and organise support for their party and for the men and women who are educated and or have some money and status and of course also act as a militia for the party, these days. They may be allowed to speak, but they are not to be taken seriously, just like any little children.

As a very young fellow at UNZA, I grew quickly to regard with absolute contempt, and to hate, the way UNIP was organised and its internal One Man Centred organisational character and structure. By the end of my first year at UNZA, I fully understood that the president of UNIP actually regarded all the citizens of Zambia as nothing more than little children with infant minds, in the same way that he regarded the members of his party, who literally worshiped him. Anyone who contradicted him, especially publicly, was punished, and sometimes like me, expelled from the university on extremely flimsy grounds.

All our political parties today, without exception, even if the internal language and terms used may be different, are modelled around the One-Party State UNIP – the president of the political party is the owner of the party. This explains why HH tried, consecutively, 6 times, to be president of Zambia, unchallenged, in his party.

Things are horribly wrong with our political parties: they are not democratically created and organised, they have no internal respect for ideology and democracy, they are usually dependent on the president for funding, they have no capacity to create internal viable systems and structures for leadership accountability to membership. They have no ability to create genuine full equal participation in the affairs of the party for all members, especially women and young people. The “president” is owner and heart of the party.

Strangely enough, we expect individuals nursed in these undemocratic patriarchal presidential choirs called “political parties” to give us quality councils, parliament and a democratic president. And then we wonder why the affairs of young people, in a country with more than 82% of its population below 35 years, are still sadistically thrown into a ministry of youth, spots and early child development!

Our country is a young country. Much of our politics must be about young people, if young people must grow to see their full potential actualised and to develop into peaceful, happy old age. Only then will our country have a normal age demography.

At the heart of the sickness that is killing our country is the one-party presidential system and model of our political parties. This model treats young people and women as infants fit only to be played with and abused, and not to be respected as full equal members of political parties. This culture is faithfully reproduced in government.

This year is exactly 31 yeas after our first multiparty elections in 1991, coming out of the abominable one-party state. This is long enough to learn whether our political system is working or not. Clearly, it is not. It is hurting our young people and women the most, by excluding them from politics through the one-party presidential model of extremely authoritarian, dictatorial and thoroughly undemocratic patriarchal political parties. It is time to dump these parties and fashion a new way of politics, a democratic way.

As long as young people in general and girls and woman in particular continue to submit themselves to the presidential choirs we call political parties in Zambia, their political participation will for ever be determined and limited by the ugly patriarchy in our political parties.

(Comments welcome at: kalindawalo2010@gmail.com)