THE departure of some key members of the opposition Patriotic Front is worrying. We are concerned that at the pace they are going, there will be no party left. But it is very important that we have a strong opposition with reasonable parliamentary representation to check on the possible excesses from the ruling UPND.
We should not go out to destroy the Patriotic Front. In fact, we should be encouraging them to put their house in order so that they can continue taking part in our much cherished democracy. We need to rebuild the Patriotic Front so that it can keep the UPND in check. We have seen that some newly elected PF members of parliament have already started to question certain developments in the UPND government. That is encouraging and must be supported, irrespective of the fact that some critics are speaking out of spite or bitterness.
We don’t want a one party State, and no matter how well President Hichilema and the UPND preform in government, we must not allow them to move our country towards that. When election results from the August 12 polls started coming out, we got worried, looking at how key PF MPs were being defeated, that the UPND was going to end up with a two thirds majority in Parliament. That would not be good for democracy. Power must always be subjected to checks because it corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The PF needs to stay alive so that they can learn some lessons. The collapse of the country under the Patriotic Front did not happen overnight. It happened gradually as the government leadership stopped giving room for alternative views to be heard. Most dictators these days get into power through the ballot, and the birth of a dictatorship starts with suppressing opposing views until it graduates into a full blown autocracy.
What happened to Zambia under the Patriotic Front cannot be blamed entirely on the bad leadership of the former ruling party, bad citizenship contributed significantly. We allowed the PF to take us for a ride and we did nothing about it. This is the problem that we have as a country; when we vote for leaders, we go to sleep expecting that they will rule like angels.
It will be our hope that the Patriotic Front has picked serious lessons about leadership from their defeat. We hope they will rebrand and come back stronger with a sober leadership. If they will sell themselves to the people with the same leadership, as it appears to be the case, then they have learnt nothing. But if they get rid of the bad apples and reform, the people of Zambia may give them a chance in future.
It is important to note that people did not exactly reject the Patriotic Front, they rejected Mr Edgar Lungu and his bad leadership. This rejection that we witnessed on August 12 had nothing to do with the colour green. It’s not like the UPND had a better manifesto. It was all about the thuggery, arrogance and theft of public resources among other vices. If Mr Lungu was a reasonable leader, the cadres would not have behaved in the manner they did; if Mr Lungu was a strict leader and firm on corruption, we would not have witnessed the criminality that we saw. In other words, Mr Lungu is responsible for killing the PF, but for the sake of checks and balances, we must allow those with energy to resuscitate the party and nurse it back to health.
About two years ago, we reminded the PF that they needed to look into their leadership succession plans. We said they needed to find a Mwanawasa from within. We warned the PF against relying on the person of Edgar Lungu because two scenarios would occur. It was possible that the Constitutional Court could have disqualified Mr Lungu on grounds that he had already twice held office. It was also possible that even if the Constitutional Court gave him a pass, the people of Zambia would reject him at the polls, and this is exactly what happened.
Looking at the letter that Mr Lungu wrote yesterday where he was appointing Mr Given Lubinda as his vice-president, one can tell that this party had no leadership succession plan in place. There was no plan B outside Mr Lungu. They never imagined that the man could be defeated so humiliatingly. Here we are now!
And by the way, if we are allowed to ask; what happened to Lulu? Ba running mate bali kwi? If Mr Lungu believed so much in the integrity and leadership capacity of Prof Nkandu Luo, why didn’t he make her vice-president of the party? If Lubinda has come out to be a better leader now, why wasn’t he appointed running mate? Isn’t that confusion and lack of vision?
Anyway, we feel sad about what is going on in the PF, but we hope that a strong opposition party will emerge from somewhere. Right now, theliz no!