The citizens that feel a real sense of frustration need to come together to create a movement that is not necessarily political but will push both the opposition and the ruling party towards a people driven agenda, says Laura Miti.
And Miti says people should start to listening to other political voices other than the top two parties, arguing that even though Hakainde Hichilema stands out as a better leader than President Edgar Lungu, the UPND is not showing any signs that it would perform better than the PF.
In an interview, Miti who is Alliance for Community Action executive director said time was ripe for a poor-people driven revolution that would make it impossible for the PF to rig elections.
“We are a country that has become so consumes with material wealth. It seems money and what people can get out of being in public office is the big thing driving the country. There are very few people I know who are willing to sacrifice wealth. Right now, everybody is trying to advance personal interests. Whether it’s NGO or not, it’s a vehicle towards accumulating wealth. There is no way a country can get down to this level. We can’t all be rich. It’s not possible. The union leaders want to be rich, the church want’s to be rich, the civil society wants to be rich, and the media also wants to be rich. Meanwhile we are completely ignoring these masses of people who are suffering,” Miti observed.
“This is why I think as a country we need to start mobilising people of like mind. I think we have enough students, the remanence of unions, the church… there are enough people whom we can get together and say what we want is better for Zambia. We are not trying to create a movement that will push for a president, but we are going to be the ones who decide what President we want. These people who join politics and thinking about becoming President from day one are killing us. There are enough poor people who think differently. Those are the ones we need to take with us on this movement. The poor are the majority in this country.”
She said if the poor people unite, the ruling party will have no capacity to rig elections.
“There comes a point when it becomes impossible to rig and when the poor decide that you must go, you can’t ran from them. You can rig elections when it’s only the middle class voting, but it is the poor who will take out the PF. So what we need to start this movement is just 100 people who will make the decision that ‘it’s not for my own pocket’. We need to go across the country and get people to think differently,” she said.
“You have seen what happened in Kabwe. The Chinese go to the market, people run to the council. The country is red, nobody trusts PF any more. The point is that the people are already angry and they want PF out. What we need is to bring that to a force that pushed Kaunda who seemed like he was not going anywhere. PF looks solid from the outside, but it is very fractured inside. So we must not look at it as a giant. Not too long ago, I was talking to a police officer who told me that if President Lungu gets one vote from the police camp, he will be very lucky. That means the police, the rank and file don’t like PF, it’s only those at the top who are eating. So one of these days, I will disappear and look like I am doing nothing. But I will go down to the people at the bottom and tell them what they need to do.”
Miti however cautioned citizens to remove PF with a better replacement.
“As it is, we are sitting at a place where it’s either PF or UPND for example. So you have people like me who are against the failed PF leadership, but are also not satisfied that the UPND will make a difference, then people ask to say ‘so where do you want people to go’, as if that is the only option. I fear that if we say ‘if not PF, then it should be UPND’, we will be doing what we have done over and over. From Kaunda’s UNIP we went to MMD without really interrogating MMD… When we got tired of Rupiah Banda, it was whoever wins is better. I think we need to get to a point where citizens begin to vote for themselves. Right now, I think there is a hunger and it is the right time for a movement, a revolution that will put Zambia in the right direction,” Miti said.
“The problem we have is that we always want to start a movement by supporting a person who wants to be President. That’s not necessarily important, we can have a movement that says whoever wants to be President must follow what we the people are demanding for. This becomes the block that decides who that President will be and which political party that will be. That is actually what can deliver a balanced Parliament, where you say in PF we like this MP, in UPND we like that MP, we like this president and this is what we are going to vote for. Like that, you end up with citizens discussing where they want to take the country, not who should be President.”
She said Zambia needed the right vehicle to get to its promised destination.
“The problem we have is that we focus too much on ‘who the President is going to be?’ But that is taking us nowhere. If I know that I want to go to Harare or to England, then I will choose the mode of transport, but if I start with choosing my mode of transport without choosing where I am going, I will be on a minibus trying to go to England. That is the trouble we are facing. Where do we want to go as citizens of Zambia? We want democracy, we want equitable access to resources, we want options for our poor. We want our education and health system to work, we don’t want violence. When we make that decision, the person who proves to us that this is their plan, that’s the transport we should choose,” said Miti.
“Right now, I know for example that Edgar Lungu has no plan completely for Zambia. That is for sure, there is no question about it, we need to get rid of him. But I have not heard HH properly articulating how this vehicle he has called UPND will give me what I want. I don’t see that. Of course when I look at him as a person, I see that he is 100 times better than Edgar Lungu, but this vehicle called UPND that he is running is extremely disturbing to me. I don’t see how it is different from PF. This is the reason why people should also try and look elsewhere to listen to what the rest of the political leaders are offering. I find myself drawn towards Andyford Banda [of People’s Alliance for Change], because when I listen to him he makes sense. I wish people can listen to this PAC guy and what he says he would like to do. He is able to think about practicable ideas. Unfortunately we are so stack with the curse of PF and UPND.”