Young African Leaders Initiative president Andrew Ntewewe says there is nothing sinister about ministers going to their constituencies to campaign because they are supposed to mingle with their voters on a regular basis.
In an interview, Ntewewe said YALI had been advocating for Mrs to visit their constituencies often on a regular basis.
“We have to understand that the minute an election comes and goes, the members of parliament have a responsibility to their constituencies. They have to get back to their constituencies. In fact what we have been advocating for as YALI is that every time Parliament adjourns sine die, the members of parliament ought to go back to their constituencies. Even in situations where Parliament has not adjourned sine die, we expect that parliamentarians on Fridays to return to their constituencies, to hear pressing matters. Our expectations is that members of parliament have to make it a habit that they consult their citizens, their constituents almost all the time,” Ntewewe said.
“The fact that they have come to Lusaka and they forget to get back to Luapula, has been a problem that we have been dealing with perennially. Its being a perennial problem because citizens sometimes complain ‘we voted for this person and they have never been here, when they get to Lusaka they forget about us’. Our advice to members of parliament is that they must be able to go back to their constituency as often as possible whether you are UPND, PF, that is the responsibility which has been given to you by virtual of being elected as a member of parliament. You must be able to go back to your constituency and ensure that you are able to engage.”
Ntewewe said there was nothing wrong with members of parliament campaigning.
“In the process of engagement, any member of parliament must be able to articulate their political agenda from which ever party they come from. They must be able to articulate what it is they are doing for the people and why they are supposed to be returned in office. If it is UPND MPs, they are supposed to go back to their constituency and explain to the citizens and say ‘look, this government is not doing this when we come in we are going to do this thing differently’. So our point as YALI is that there is nothing wrong whatsoever, in fact its obligatory and mandatory for members of parliament to visit their constituencies. They should not just visit once in a while, no. They should be able to visit regularly,” he said.
And Ntewewe said UPND should not complain when PF campaigns because no one stopped them from conducting their card renewal exercises.
“We don’t know why UPND should be complaining. UPND has not being hindered do to party mobilizations. Those days we could complain about the public order act. What has happened now is the fact that the police have been very professional in giving UPND space. Who has complained about UPND doing their card renewal exercises in Lusaka? They have been almost at every other provincial center. Who has stopped them from doing that? When they have been at those card renewal exercise have they not spoken bad about the PF government? Have they not campaigned themselves that ‘come 2021, let us remove the PF and vote UPND’? What is wrong with PF saying ‘this, we are delivering so elect us in 2021’? So why should they complain when their colleagues campaign?” he asked.
Ntewewe said the PF, like the party, was entitled to the right to campaign.
“Them when they campaign there is no problem? When the PF does its mobilization, they buy [for] their structures, bicycles and things like that for them to mobilize, that is mandatory for a political party. There is nothing wrong with that. UPND itself, let them go and buy bicycles and give their constituents. Nobody is going to stop them. The party has to continue running. So the aspect of politicizing a very basic components is not acceptable. UPND has to understand that PF is as much entitled to the fundamental rights just like they, themselves are entitled,” he said.
“It’s not as if when we talk about these fundamental rights, they are just for UPND and FDD, no. They are for each and every citizen of the republic of Zambia. The moment they are allowed to campaign themselves, they should also not have a problem with others campaigning. Even FDD itself as a political party, it has a responsibility to mobilize its membership. If you talk about FDD they have serious issues because their political party is on the rocks. So they have to work very hard in terms of mobilization.”
Ntewewe said political parties like UPND and FDD which went for a convention in 2006, were a liability to society.
“We have been saying [that] political parties must practice intra-party democracy. As long as they don’t practice intra-party democracy they become a liability to society. FDD is a practical example. From 2006 they have never gone to a convention. They have become a liability. UPND is yet another example, from 2006 they have never gone to a convention they are becoming a liability to society in the sense that they are not helping our democratization process. They blame us for talking about their dictatorship. In particular the UPND blame us. But why we don’t have a problem discussing it is because political parties now are not just a mare club, they are creature created by the constitution. Because they are created by the constitution they must abide by the principles and values that are set out in the republic Constitution,” said Ntewewe.
“The republican constitution in article 60 is very clear that political parties must conduct intra-party democracy. So if for instance a political party conducted intra-party elections in 2006, this is 2018 they have never done that, it means they are operating illegally. It means they have declared themselves a liability to our democratization process. In summary political parties must practice intra party democracy, once they do that mobilization will be easier. The structures will be performing better. Our demand is that we are going to continue talking about intra-party democracy because political parties are not clubs that they can be led like personal ‘tuntembas’. They are no longer personal ‘tuntembas’ they are a creature of the constitution.”