A fortnight ago, one misguided UPND official from Northern Province made a statement that the opposition party was not going to let any member of the opposition alliance take up the position of presidential running mate because there was already Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba who would not be replaced by anyone under any circumstances.
We pointed out in our editorial opinion that the party, through the Northern Province Chairman Mr Nathan Illunga, had demonstrated a spirit of greed, selfishness and lack of sacrifice; given that the other opposition alliance leaders were willing to support any other presidential candidate other than themselves.
It was encouraging to see the UPND top leadership nullify the position taken by its official, and further banning unauthorized comments on the opposition alliance. We feel this was a good step towards correcting a bad statement. Instead of simply defending, for the mere sake of collective responsibility, the UPND realised that the position was detrimental to unity of purpose.
But what was more uplifting was the reaction from Mr Geoffrey Mwamba himself. Against obvious expectation, Mr GBM came out to say he was not a life vice-president of the UPND, and as such he was willing to surrender a running mate position to any other leader of the opposition alliance who would make a good pair with any chosen presidential candidate to win the 2021 elections.
“I can tell you that the friendship that we are enjoying with other political parties is very solid. I think that issue [of sole running mate] has already been resolved. And let me tell you my dear, with time, if that is the situation that would prevail at that particular time, we’ll support anyone else, as long as that person will be able to see us win and form government so that we oust these criminals; these PF criminals. I am ready to do that,” said GBM
We must admit that when the statement from the UPND provincial chairman for Northern Province came, we suspected that it could have been with the blessings of the UPND vice-president. We thought, perhaps he felt threatened with the coming together of other political leaders to form the united alliance. But he has proved us wrong so far.
We can’t tell if Mr GBM’s generosity is genuine at this stage, but if we are to take his word for it, then we have to acknowledge that his statement is a mark for selfless leadership. In Zambia, we have always had a problem of politicians wanting power at all costs and by all means. They never care about what they intend to do when they get that power, as long as it is them who get in those high offices and not anyone else. This is the reason why our country is trapped in lawlessness, corruption and abuse of power because our leaders fail to recognize and accept their limits.
We find it selfless and inspiring to hear Mr GBM say that much as he would like to be vice-president of Zambia, if other team members find someone else who could be better than him, he would support that individual. In other words, he is declaring that the same way that he would like to be supported if chosen as running mate to the presidential candidate; he would also give the same measure of support to someone found to have better qualities, as long as the current government is removed from power.
We believe that the position taken by Mr GBM is one which should be embraced by other alliance members, especially the presidents. If the purpose of coming together is to augment the strength of the opposition, then no one should feel they are the best and cannot be led by others.
And beyond this, the opposition, as an alliance, or as individual political parties, should not seek power from Zambians without planning for it. Like GBM is stating, the initial plan is to ensure that PF is removed. But after that, what next? What is the national restoration plan for those who want to replace PF?
It is easy to simply brand those in charge of government as thieves who must go, but Zambians deserve to start hearing rescue plans from power seekers so that when the candidates and there running mates are unveiled, they can go and vote with confidence.
The only way Zambia will come out of the economic and governance mess that it is in, is if voters fully understand the individual aspirations of those that seek to govern them. If that can become a factor and vote buying can be defeated with morality, real change would be achievable.
So, let Mr GBM spell out his debt repayment plan for Zambia if he formed government. Let Mr Milupi lay out his restoration plan for the rule of law and how he will bring transparency to the judiciary. Let Mr Hakainde Hichilema point out which presidential powers he will shed off once in State House. We want to hear what Mr Kambwili will do to change people’s mindset on tribalism; how will he make Tongas love Bembas and vice versa?
Leaders should not just demand for power, they must do self introspection and interrogate their own capacity to achieve what might be the most difficult task once in office.