Marriage counsellors teach us a very valid and valued lesson about relationships. They say every marriage needs to have a foundation where common interests are identified and respected. It is during the same period of building that foundation when weaknesses and strengths from both ends are established and appreciated.
When you sacrifice your own comfort to all the weaknesses that your partner may have, but still truly believe in what you could achieve together, then you have attained something beyond love – loyalty. The absence of that foundation is what can be referred to as simple infatuation or short-lived desire to satisfy the immediate need.
Unfortunately, this has been the sad reality about our Zambian politics. Our leaders are driven by selfish motives that look at what is in it for them immediately. Politics is about numbers, they say, so they let anyone, including former enemies to come on board. But what they don’t realize is that some of those numbers bring a number of problems.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema happens to be a president who has suffered the most treachery in the history of Zambian politics. That has been driven by two things: the first one being the UPND’s prospects of forming government at the next elections. The high possibility that the party can win elections has attracted a lot of numbers as well as problems.
It is like the case of a very handsome and rich young man who is looking for marriage. Many girls will flock and jostle to be married to this young man because of the opportunities that are likely to come out in that relationship. Very few girls would care to understand the family values espoused by the young man’s relatives, or let alone, how that family’s empire was built. The girls’ eyes are fixated on the honeymoon and the “happy ever after.”
This is the problem that the UPND is faced with. They have been the most attractive opposition party to win elections and unseat government since 2001 when late Anderson Mazoka was in charge. That 2001 election was so close that some people actually say it was stolen from the UPND. Since Mr Hichilema took over, the party has attracted so many people (girls) who have one interest and one interest only – to get in government and enjoy public funds. They don’t care about UPND and what it stands for.
As things stand in Zambia today, the party with the strongest manifesto might be the People’s Alliance for Change (PAC), for example, but nobody has time to even listen to what Mr Andyford Mayele Banda talks about during campaigns. In the eyes of many, he is still a novice and joining his formation would be a waste of time because he can’t form government immediately. But a few years from today when Mr Mayele performs some magic and gets closer to the throne, that’s when PAC will attract all the treacherous politicians who will be hunting for government opportunities. They will not care about what the party is promising to do once in government, but what they privately want to do once in government.
This is the situation that Mr Hichilema finds himself in. You can check as far back as the late Mr Francis Simenda, Mr Richard Kapita, Dr Canisius Banda and now Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba; all these people who have sought marriage with the UPND president have been driven by motives that are now in public domain for all to see. It is no wonder Mr Simenda was able to get a job in the government that he opposed, Mr Kapita is still chewing from the party he disparaged and Dr Banda is lining up with his mouth open.
One may ask, why, then, is Mr Hichilema repeatedly going to bed with people who are not loyal to him? That is the second reason; one the UPND leader has suffered the most political treachery in history. It is no longer a secret that time is running out for Mr Hichilema and he keeps falling in the trap because of his desperation to become Head of State. At this stage, Mr Hichilema doesn’t seem to be looking for principled men and women whom he shares common values with. It’s now about forming government at all costs.
Anyone who has some semblance of political influence and happens to have a name that is not from the South or West can easily go to bed with Mr Hichilema as UPND vice-president. This is because the party is also desperately trying to fight the tribal tag – which in our view is being fuelled by actual tribalists. Unfortunately, this has caused a situation where the party has become so vulnerable to bad elements with hidden motives.
The case of Mr GBM can be seen in what we have illustrated above. When GBM was appointed vice-president and running mate in the 2016 elections, we were astounded! It was one of the most awkward political marriages inspired by a hasty convenience than principle. There was no foundation whatsoever and the two leaders lived apart together. It is the lack of loyalty in that relationship that has brought things where they are today and we can ask the same questions that we asked in the beginning.
How much did the UPND know about Mr GBM before ‘marrying’ him? Did they believe in what he stands for? Did they establish his weaknesses and accept him as he is? Did they see loyalty in the man they are fighting with today or they were only interested in his perceived influence and the numbers he was bringing to the table?
How about Mr GBM? How much does this UPND vice-president know about his party and its plans for Zambia? Has Mr Mwamba ever seen the UPND manifesto? Can he recite the so-called 10-point plan? Can he articulate the UPND policies on education, health and social security?
In our view, both the UPND and Mr GBM will be ashamed to admit that they are guilty of forming a marriage out of political infatuation, but the reality is that their desperation for power will now take them on a protracted journey as they pursue a nasty divorce! As if that is not enough trouble for the UPND, the next question is already knocking at their door, who becomes the next victim of political infatuation?