The latest Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country report says the Patriotic Front is likely to lose the 2021 elections if opposition political parties formed an alliance. The report suggests that a potential alliance of opposition parties would make victory conceivable given a wave of anti-government resentment over taxes, subsidy cuts and joblessness.
This may be true, but who is interested in an alliance ahead of 2021? I reached out to opposition political parties to get their views and clearly, there is nobody on board so far; or is there?
Well, some players think it’s too early to say, others say they will not go to bed with partners whose ideological status is unknown, while others say if people don’t rush to being alliance leaders, anything is possible.
“Being president is not the most important thing now. What is important is to restore democracy and the rule of law and to remove the PF government. Some of our colleagues have just formed their political parties now and they are still a long way to becoming president so for now it is just important that they join our alliance so that we can remove the PF once and for all,” UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma appealed.
“I think what is important now is for the opposition and all well-meaning Zambians to come together and unite [to] remove the PF from power. So those who are still outside the UPND alliance with other opposition political parties should consider joining this broad alliance. As things stand now, we are already in some alliances with some political parties such as MMD, the People’s Party and the ADD. Many more have indicated that they are willing to cooperate and work with us. So it would be a good idea if we all came together and it would be easier to defeat the PF.
Perhaps that’s the problem, it seems. Everyone wants to be president and no wonder the FDD leader wants to be counted out of any alliance, even though she still wants PF out.
“When you are telling me that people must band together to evict these people, that’s why I don’t talk. You don’t need a popular politician to take them out. The people are fed up of starvation, they are fed up of suffering, they are fed up of unemployment. You cannot be subcontracting the economy of this country to outsiders,” said Nawakwi.
“Look at Lusaka City. Now Lusaka City Council is looking for money even where they shouldn’t find it, in grave yards. They are increasing burial fees because the parking fees have been taken away from them and given to South Africans. Look at the airport, who is collecting the money? It’s not the National Airport Corporation, its a South African company. We have been saying time and time again [that] increase the non tax revenue. And what we call the non tax revenue is things like road tax, levies and all, that’s what is called non tax revenue. But if you think you can subcontract even your bedroom to outsiders, I think people are not thinking. The best alliance is on the streets here. Just talk to people, they are weeping. You don’t need to campaign against Patriotic Front, they are patriotically getting themselves out of office.”
As for Elias Chipimo, who leads the opposition National Restoration Party (NAREP), he feels law and order can not be restored if political parties don’t care about their ideology before forming government. As such, his party will not go to bed without protection for its principles.
“We’ve always made it very clear that the idea of forming alliances purely for the sake of getting rid of a party in power is not the best way forward for this country. What we actually need is to actually rally behind an idea and a vision that can take this country forward. And then from there, it’s always easy to see who the best team to lead this vision forward is. It’s obvious that the opposition [parties] combined is bigger than the PF, but we have always been reluctant just to say let’s get into bed with other people just because we want to get rid of something that is there. We have to find out what is the vision and who is going to lead that vision. So for us, we don’t want to just jump on things for the sake of jumping onto them because we may end up with something worse if we don’t have an agreement on the vision and the way forward for this country,” argued Chipimo.
“If people were ready to say, ‘let’s form a joint vision,’ we would be more than ready to join in. We haven’t seen the vision that we have from any of the existing parties but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. But we [are] certainly very keen to talk to people like president Andyford Banda and see how we can unite our thinking because we see a lot of progressive ideas with this gentleman. We also are very interested in some of the ideas that are spoken about by the Green party and president Peter Sinkamba and we certainly believe that although our visions are different, this is a kind of man that we would be very keen to help us usher in some new faces and new ideas into our political scenario. We are really tired of seeing the same old faces that have not served this country well.”
Mike Mulongoti said he has already given himself up to an alliance with the UPND, and hopes others can sign up.
“We are already in an alliance with Dr Mumba, president Milupi, myself and HH. We have already set the ball rolling, all we expect is other people to come and join us or if they have got other alternatives which could be better than what we’ve started, we are more than keen to work with them. When the PF went into government, they made commitments which they have not fulfilled up to now. In fact, they have neglected all of them. So because of that, we want to prove to them that things can be done better than they have done. They are full of excuses for not doing what they are expected to do and they are full of apportioning blames. I don’t think we are going to go in like that, we’ve got experience, we’ve got entrepreneurship skills and all that. So we would make a better alternative to this government,” bragged Mulongoti.
“So, there is nothing the PF can tell us which we don’t know. We want to give Zambians an opportunity to see how a decent government looks like. We will fight corruption, we will not entertain stealing and those are the kind of ideas that the people of Zambia are looking for. Surely, the Economists Intelligence Unit has said what’s correct because the PF has continued to behave in a manner that’s not right. So, there is actually no need to wait for elections in 2021; we can have elections earlier than that. If people have failed, then there is no need to wait for 2021.”
And Pastor Nevers Mumba of the MMD faction, who is also already under the UPND umbrella, said his party was still consulting with its structures if collaborating with other opposition parties was ideal.
“You are aware that we are already in a running alliance for now with the UPND, ADD and the People’s Party. We are very clear on our policy on alliances. All political parties in the opposition are talking right now and we are hoping that the talking is going to result in some kind of rearrangement in the political scenario as we head towards 2021. I cannot pre-empt the talks that are going on amongst opposition political parties but all I can confirm is that there talks going on within members of opposition parties that really matter,” Pastor Mumba said.
“The nation is going to be informed about these political parties, first of all about who they are and once the talking ends then that will be the appropriate time to make an announcement to the nation. The nature of the talks that are going on is what will determine whether the National Executive Committee of the MMD would be willing to continue with an alliance with other political parties. But as it is, we are already in an alliance with the other three political parties, so it’s not a new thing to us.”
Meanwhile, Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili, who doubles as National Democratic Congress leader, said he was focussed on growing the opposition party at the moment.
“We respect the views of the Economists Intelligence Unit but I think by and large, these people are people who do not have confidence in the government in power. It’s not always that if the opposition forms an alliance then that’s the only time they can disown the government in power. I think we will cross the brige when we get their, for now we are running our own organisation. Which is NDC and we will cross the bridge when we get their,” said Kambwili.