Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has asked opposition political parties to stop exaggerating their popularity and unite saying that is the only way they can manage to constitutionally remove the ruling party from office.

And Mwaanga says continued divisions among opposition political parties will only weaken them and disappoint citizens who have faith in them.

In a statement, Sunday, Mwaanga observed that in countries where opposition parties were serious about winning elections, they put personal appetites for power aside, for a common good

“Experience the world over, has shown that nations, organisations and people, are stronger working together. In unity, there is always strength. Prior to 1991, trade unions, democracy activists, academics, students and ordinary citizens, worked together in calling for the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Zambia and became an irresistible force. The one party system was introduced in 1973, not as a result of the will of the people, but by the will of the Cabinet. This United Front brought about political change in 1990, which compelled Cabinet and Parliament to amend the then article 4 of the Constitution of Zambia, to allow other political parties to be formed and register, apart from UNIP,” Mwaanga recalled.

“MMD was registered as a political party on 4th January, 1991 and other parties were also registered. When fresh general elections were called in October, 1991, this opposition United Front, decided after a lot of debate, that the only way to dislodge UNIP, which had become a very powerful machine, with limitless government resources, was to work together through a loose election alliance under the banner of the MMD, to constitutionally dislodge UNIP at the polls. The results of the October 1991 [elections, were the product of this loose alliance. MMD won 125 Parliamentary seats out of 150 and its Presidential candidate, Frederick Chiluba won 74 per cent of the votes cast. The power of working together for a common objective produced the desired results for the country, whose economy was on its knees and whose human rights record had gone into oblivion.”

He stated that a fragmented opposition was a danger to itself.

“Without this United opposition front, removing UNIP by constitutional means would have proved a bridge too far. Many other political parties emerged there after, including some from the MMD itself, such as the National Party, FDD, PF among many others. It is my understanding that the purpose of forming political parties is to get into power by constitutional and democratic means, namely the ballot box in free, fair, transparent and credible elections. A fragmented opposition, becomes a danger to itself. That is why in countries where opposition parties are serious about winning elections, they put personal appetites for power aside and opt for a common good. Leaders of these parties, large and small, stop exegerating how important and popular they are and what work for a common good. They forge election alliances, win and share power afterwards,” he stated.

“Recently in Malaysia, a retired 92 year old Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad, came out of his retirement to lead an opposition alliance to defeat Prime Minister Najib Razak’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO , who was deemed to be corrupt among many other crimes. Our neighbours in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have surprised many people. It was heartening to hear the two main opposition political parties recognise the value of joining forces . At a meeting of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center held recently in Washington DC, Felix Tshisekedi, President of the oldest opposition party the Union for Democracy and Social Progress and Moses Katumbi, the President of the Together for Change Party , publicly agreed to work together by forming an electoral alliance and even explore the possibility of fielding one presidential candidate in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for the 23rd December, 2018. This is a progressive and mature stance which promises very substantial political, economic and social dividends for their country.”

And Mwaanga stated that continued divisions among opposition political parties would only weaken them and disappoint citizens who have faith in them.

“I would like to urge our progressive opposition parties to start talking to each other ahead of the 2021 general elections, as they discuss other issues such as, further amendments to the Constitution, the reconstitution of the Electoral Commission, the Public Order Act, rule of law, equality of all Zambians before the law, the need for the police service to treat all Zambians equally, regardless of political affiliation, amendments to the Electoral Act to level the playing field, the Bill of Rights which failed to pass the referendum threshold in 2016, among other issues. The fruits of a united progressive opposition for the country would be immense. Continued divisions on the part of opposition, will only weaken them and continue to disappoint the citizens and give credence to those who argue that opposition leaders are only interested in power for themselves. It has been done all over the world and can happen here, provided there is a WiLL to do so. Power should not be for personal aggrandisement, but must be used for the benefit of the people and I mean all the people,” stated Mwaanga.