In the last few weeks I have been asked countless times whom I will endorse in January’s Presidential by-election. I did indicate a while back that endorsement then was quite difficult as nominations had not taken place yet. Now that the nominations have taken place, here is my considered view.
It is not a secret that I detest the PF with a passion and not because the MMD lost power to it, but because under late President Sata, we saw a clear failure of leadership. The order of the day has been deceit from the very top of the PF Government. But I also did mention in a ZNBC TV interview, some months ago, that PF problems were not unique. Our democracy is still so fragile that many of our political parties are quite challenged when dealing with opposing views. In fact the PF wrangles witnessed recently are small compared to the MMD succession disputes of 2001, which led to the birth of the PF.
The Post Newspaper recently referred to Zambian politics as being about ‘ichimwela’. Clearly, that is what has led us to the current leadership and system failure witnessed recently. The courts have had a field day in trying to address our political challenges which are clearly a reflection of our constitutional lacunas. Usually, we just hear about the 50+1 discourse on the constitution. However, our constitution lacks in many areas including the question of whether we should have costly by-elections in the event of a Presidents death. This argument is premised on the fact that a winning candidate and his Party receives a mandate from Zambians for a 5 year term. That was in fact our argument as the MMD in 2008.
In Zambia, power is vested totally in a President. This means that at the change of who ever is occupying the Presidency, almost 10% of top Government jobs in cabinet, ministries, foreign mission, parastatals, (and these are the most paying) must be changed overnight. What that means is expenditure on the outgoing personnel and equipping the new personnel not just with salaries and settling in allowances but even with new vehicles as outgoing personnel buy-off personal to holder cars. This change of Government costs tax payers millions of kwacha at the expense of other needy areas such as hospitals etc.
In view of the above, one has to reflect very carefully on whether a change of Government, less than two years, before a general election is really the best thing for Zambia. We all know that our treasury is broke and expenditure on this by-election and possible change of Government will make things even worse.
In my considered view, the above is enough for the PF to be allowed to continue until the next general election. Of course, one has to accept that the PF incumbency already gives them a head start. But most of all, in the last crucial weeks, the PF will have 81 MPs on the ground, with the UPND at 27 while the MMD is already split. PF only beat MMD in a general election when they fielded candidates in the whole country in 2011.
I am not saying it is clear cut for the PF, considering the promises by President Sata in 2011 and the current farmers crisis. But when all is considered, I believe the continuity of the PF at the moment is the most sure way for our country to have stability until the next general election. I will emphasise though, that Zambians expect to see a new PF, that is less violent and more tolerant, more inclusive, respects peoples freedoms and most of all, shows commitment to enactment of the constitution. We don’t want empty promises but an attitude of dialogue on critical national matters.
My friends, this is my considered view.