University of Zambia political historian Professor Bizeck Phiri says some Zambian politicians are shunning alliances with colleagues within the opposition sphere because they are not willing to sacrifice their presidential ambitions.

In an interview, Prof Phiri said the formation of too many political parties had divided Zambia.

“For me as a Political Historian, I look at this from the point of view that we have had leaders in this country who sacrificed their personal ambitions for the general good of the country. For example the late Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula who was a freedom fighter. Nkumbula sacrificed his personal ambitions when the Choma declaration was signed to transform this country from a multi-party democracy into a one party state. He appended his signature to allow unity in the country. Now, that is a person who is going to stand in the history of this country as a true nationalist because he was more interested in what the country should achieve. We should also remember that even at independence leaders where sacrificing their personal ambitions in order to achieve the general good of this country. So even our current leaders today can do the same and we can have a better Zambia than what we are seeing now where you’ve got so many political parties and because there are so many political parties, even the party that wins an election doesn’t win with a clear majority because of the divisions,” Prof Phiri said.

“I think one of the things that politicians must consider when they are in political arena is to understand the fact that you are leading the people in general. So as individual politicians, you sometimes have to sacrifice your personal ambitions for the sake of the welfare of the majority which is normally referred to as the public good. And what is good, you struggling alone as an individual in a political party or with others so that you can form a bigger group that can have a lot of influence? Remember we hear almost all the time that politics is a game of numbers, so if you are divided it’s very difficult for you to achieve what you want to achieve because you are working as individuals. But when you work as a team, then you can work and achieve your purpose. One of the things that needs to be observed is that people must be honest with each other, honest to themselves and honest to those that may be following them if they are to form a successful coalition.”

He said fighting for positions was never beneficial.

“Otherwise, a coalition is good because at the end of the day, you have unity in the country. Some of the political parties that have been formed are individual parties which only show up in the year when we are having elections, in between elections they are nowhere to be seen. But instead of giving their support and the few people that support them to be part of the coalition, they want to be alone and I think that in itself is not good for the country because it’s unnecessarily dividing the country. But this is One Zambia One Nation, we only have one country so we need to make sure that our leaders focus on what is good for the country. You might not agree at the level of forming a coalition but at the end of the day look at what is the general good. When you are struggling, you must think of the people that you are leading, not that I must have this position, I must have that position…this idea of ‘I must have this position because this person doesn’t want to give me a chance then I am not going to be with them’, is defeating the purpose of being true nationalists,” said Prof Phiri.

“When you have come up with a coalition, that’s when now you can decide who becomes a Presidential candidate. Once you agree on that, you can even have all the structures of who is going to be President, who is going to be Vice-President so that even when you go into an election as a coalition and you win, you don’t divert from what you’ve already agreed because an opposition party is just a government in waiting. But the challenge we have in Zambia is that there is dishonesty amongst some of our leaders. Our leaders are so dishonest that if they are going to be put in power and they win, they will do something else from what they promised and that creates a lot of problems in the end.”