Immediately after the Patriotic Front expelled him from the ruling party, Mr Harry Kalaba graciously lifted his bags, which were already packed, and left. This man had been wanting to leave the PF for some time because he fell out of love with the party a long time ago. He now regards it as the evil that Zambians must fight to eliminate, if their livelihoods have to improve.
We are not putting words in Mr Kalaba’s mouth; this is what he said when he resigned from his position as Foreign Affairs Minister a year ago. He repeated his sentiments about his disgust for the corruption in PF when he made the move to relinquish his parliamentary position, even before the Speaker declares the Bahati constituency seat vacant.
It is clear that the PF has chased someone who was actually desperate to go. In Bemba we would say, ba PF batana uwikwite (meaning they are denying food to a person who is already satisfied, if not constipated). It appears Mr Kalaba was long gone, but he just didn’t want to resign much earlier to avoid being blamed for causing a costly by-election.
So, unlike Honourable Kambwili, who is still holding on and fighting his expulsion from the party, Mr Kalaba has completely terminated his links with the PF so that he can engage in a clean fight for the Presidency without any complications. He feels associating himself with a party that he regards as corrupt and responsible for people’s sufferings, doesn’t make a good argument point for him.
Many people have applauded this stance, saying he has demonstrated maturity and political courage. Indeed, we, too, think that Mr Kalaba has good intentions for the politics of this country. But what we must not forget is that, in Zambia, especially under the Patriotic Front, good intentions are welcome, but they are not rewarded.
Mr Kalaba is throwing good intentions at evil people. He is trying to play a clean, good game of football with an aggressive rugby side; he is a boxer in a wrestling ring where his opponent is also the referee and defending champion. It may not end well. They will leave him bruised! We can only hope that he is prepared for the brutal game ahead and he is strong enough to withstand the frustration.
With his PF membership relinquished and his parliamentary seat gone, Mr Kalaba has technically put his face in front of a rocket launcher called the Public Order Act. He is in direct firing range, and they will not allow him to mobilise the party in his former constituency. He has no basis for campaigning in Bahati, or anywhere in the country because he is not an MP, and his Democratic Party is under clamp down, it can’t file candidates in by-elections yet until it’s deregistration case is disposed from court. That is a consequence of being good to evil people. There is nothing you can do to please them; the more you bend to show good intentions, the more they abuse you.
These people in PF dared Mr Kalaba to resign from PF and prove his popularity by challenging President Edgar Lungu without clinging to the ruling party. The challenger has done just that, but they are now blocking the train that he has boarded into 2021. To the PF, Kambwili, who refused to let go of his parliamentary seat is a coward because he is afraid of standing alone. But Kalaba is also a bad man for deciding to stand alone and challenge President Lungu. What is it that the PF wants? Why are they blocking the Democratic Party from conducting its activities if, indeed, Mr Kalaba is a nonentity?
In our view, the PF is scared of Honourable Kambwili’s lethal mouth, but they don’t think he has the capacity to split the ruling party by 2021, and they don’t fear him much in that context. But it appears the PF leadership has discovered that Mr Kalaba’s presidential bid is being supported by several PF members of parliament, and even a couple of Cabinet ministers. The suspension of PF Luangeni member of parliament Charles Zulu has not come from without, and it is a fact that some PF shots are reaching out to the Democratic Party presidential candidate.
We can’t say that Mr Kalaba will win the 2021 presidential election because we don’t know what the Zambian people think about him and his leadership, but we can speak with confidence that he will certainly be a factor at the next general elections. We do not think that this man should be written off. Those who think we are hallucinating should wait and see how the politics inside the PF will turn out in the next 24 months.