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Friday, August 14, 2020

Political Party Conventions in Zambia are overrated and a mockery of democracy

Columns Feature Column Political Party Conventions in Zambia are overrated and a mockery of...

Police officers block suspected MMD cadres from accessing the Lusaka magistrate court where they wanted to go and clash with their PF counterparts.

By Chanda Phiri (Ex-LT Microblogger)
It is amazing how the calls by the so called democratic masses to all
political party in Zambia to hold convention are intensifying. The ruling MMD earlier last year showed signs of not holding the convention and all sorts of mud was thrown at them. Now that the MMD has decided to hold the convention, after succumbing to public pressure, it looks like they are now treated as the most democratic party. How ridiculous!

The MMD, particularly its leadership, has even the audacity of calling on other political parties to hold a convention. They feel more holy. They feel more democratic. But really is the MMD democratic? Does the mere holding of a convention make a party democratic? How can those calling for convention sink so low as to think this public spectacle is democracy?

The selection of these delegates is not a democratic process, but a corrupt process otherwise known as "bootlicking".

Anyway let me unpack the convention process of ALL political parties, in case some of you don’t know.

The Problem

First note that the president of any political party in Zambia is the most important person in that party and is above reproach.
The way a party runs the so called national convention is to first select people that will attend the convention.

Not just any Jim and Jack attends these political national conventions. The selection of these delegates is not a democratic process, but a corrupt process otherwise known as “bootlicking”. Seats at the conventions are limited and those who make it as delegates are those who are perceived to be aligned or have consistently boot licked the president and his cohorts of supporters.

So the delegates that get to attend these conventions are already hand picked by the incumbent party president’s machinery. Only Chief Bootlickers make the cut.So, the convention is just a mirage and a total public spectacle meant to just make a joke of real democracy. And this applies to ALL political parties in Zambia today.

So the election of party presidency is truly not democratic in all the political parties in Zambia today. The conventions are just an expensive way to endorse the incumbent president and I would bet my house with anyone that RB and Sata will emerge as leaders at their conventions, fraught with corruption.

Maybe and a big Maybe for that matter: the only truly democratically elected officials are those who hold other useless portfolios in the party.

I can’t end this rant of mine without therefore suggesting a truly democratic way of electing party presidents.

The Solution

First problem to fix is to make parties organised around a powerful committee, like a board and not around an incumbent powerful party president. The committee’s duty should be to fairly conduct the electoral process for the leader or the CEO of their party.

Once the committee is in place its mandate will be to conduct elections across the country in all constituencies and allow only those voter’s card carrying members of the public to vote in these elections. I repeat: These elections should be open to all members of the public as long as they have voters card, regardless of which party they belong to. The candidate who amasses the most votes
across all the constituencies should be the one to lead the party as president into a general election. Only after a tie which is most unlikely, should then corrupted party delegates be brought in to decide.

Yes, this process will be expensive. But who said democracy is cheap? If you think democracy is expensive, try dictatorship? Evidence abound on how dictatorship has impoverished the masses and robbed people of any dignity to live decent lives.

Well as long as this process I have outlined above is not followed, all parties in Zambia will remain corrupt, undemocratic and just built around an individual. We shall happily vote them in power only for them to turn around and rape us the way the MMD has done since it came into power.

Lastly I call upon all Zambians to really see what a joke these current
conventions are and demand for a party with truly democratically elected leadership.
Not what is being imposed on us by the corrupt delegates in all parties

Let the debate begin. Let the search for a truly democratic party begin. Let the search for a truly elected democratic president begin. Aren’t you tired of all these self styled dictators imposed on as as democratically elected leaders?


  1. Very good observations by Chanda Phiri. With regard to the solution however, one thing that is also important to point out is that; It is one thing to declare a leadership “democratically elected” and completely another, for that leadership to actually practice this democracy.
    Therefore, I think there needs to be a system where all political parties should be entrenched in the Constitution making process. This is an open suggestion. what do other bloggers think?

  2. Politicians and media puppets dramatize party warfare distraction, in grand performances of bureaucratic rivalry meant to propagandize and polarize the audience.

  3. LT your site is slow today.Anyway I personally am sick and tired of the cadre controlled politics in Zambia.We need new young intellectuals to lead,unfortunately we are all abroad

  4. Interesting observation and I totally agree with Chanda, I think we need to make these so called democratically elected be actually elected democraticall not corruptly elected and then declare it as democracy. For sure almost all convention attendees and bootlickers of the current president and they will always try to protect him. Can we have real democracy please?????

  5. What is worse to try and be seen to be democratic or not to try at all? To me a party that atleast tries to give a semblance of democratic practice as corrupt as that process maybe perceived to be in some quarters is better than one that does not bother to practice any tenets of democracy at all and yet seeks to be elected to high office by the populace at large.

  6. Instead of meaningful debate about the future of our nation, we receive only distractions. We thirst for truth, but instead find ourselves wandering through the desert of distraction and confusion. We seek leaders, but only receive figureheads.
    The people of Zambia are divided among many lines, ultimately under the confines of a system of right and left(MMD and the opposition).
    The truth is, there is no right or left. There is only right and wrong.

  7. Nothing new here if you didnt know then you have no reason to follow politics. Its always the case even the law people will say you have to be seen to let the law follow its due couse ” heard that a lot after the FTJ saga” the same is true for politics and political parties.

    Maybe as Zambias you should be pushing for governments or in coming to talk of alternatives instead of always rebuking each other. The Governement should be afraid of the people as the case in France thats the only way they will do there job. For a start all party leaders should not take the position as personal to holder. Select leaders such as was the process when FTJ come about but make sure the party still has power should that leader stray

  8. You solution is a little suspect! Why do you need one powerful person? Zambia does not need powerful individuals, it needs powerful institutons and political parties can be structured as such. There are Laws and rules in place today for political parties to operate within.However the rules that govern political parties are constantly violated by those in the Legislture and the Judiciary at the directive on the executive.

    Until there is respect for the rules, all that will be a pipe dream.

  9. #9 Ngobola Muyembe, you should be reading before you comment, ka. The author actually suggested powerful committees and not individuals as you have interpreted. He is clearly against powerful individuals. I think sometimes you need powerful individuals to get things done. You are right though Sata will win our convention and why should we field a weak person again MMD. They will kill us at the powers. That is just how things are in Zambia. live with it and work with you got. You need a powerful person to get things done and not institutions. That is why we have chiefs in Villages. Our people value and respect individual authority.

  10. South PF leader calls for convention

    PATRIOTIC Front (PF) Southern Province chairperson, Opper Hamiyanze has called on the PF national leadership to immediately announce the date for its convention.Mr Hamiyanze has warned that he would be forced to resign from the PF if the party did not hold a convention before the tripartite election next year.

  11. But when contacted, PF Spokesperson Given Lubinda said Mr Hamiyanze was free to resign from the party if he so wished.Mr Lubinda said all the provincial chairpersons had been instructed to conduct elections up to district level and that should be done by March 31, 2010 after which the party would conduct provincial elections.“The PF cannot fail to hold the convention.

  12. We have instructed all the provincial chairpersons to conduct elections at lower level upto the district level and if Mr Hamiyanze is hard working, let him ensure that this is done because the people going to the convention are supposed to be elected from the lower organs.

  13. “Does Mr Hamiyanze expect the top party leadership to go and conduct elections at lower level? Our job is to conduct provincial elections and later organise for the convention and if he wants to resign let him go. We do not stop anyone from resigning,” Mr Lubinda said.Mr Hamiyanze said in Mazabuka soon after featuring on a live phone in programme at Mazabuka community radio station that opposition political parties should learn to exercise the tenets of democracy which demand that all positions in the political structures be challenged during party elections.

  14. And Mr Hamiyanze condemned the violent behaviour by some cadres who stormed the newsroom at the community radio station.He said the presenter of the programme dubbed Live Wire, Joe Pandwe had to consult him if he was comfortable with the noise by cadres who were demanding the programme be suspended.Mr Hamiyanze accused his opponent challenging him for the position of provincial chairperson as being behind the fracas and hiring of cadres to denounce him.He said his opponent allegedly hired call boys and bought beer for them to beat and frustrate him from defending his position. Mr Hamiyanze challenged PF leader Michael Sata to condemn the violence that erupted at the community radio station.

  15. Here we are PF members condemningq attack on Hamiyanze

    THE committee of founders in the Patriotic Front (PF) has condemned suspected party cadres for violently attacking Southern Province chairperson, Opper Hamiyanze, for calling on the leadership to announce the date for the convention.

  16. Chairperson of the committee of founders, Samson Zulu said the violent attacks on Mr Hamiyanze for calling on the leadership to call for a convention were uncalled for and should be condemned by all peace loving members of the party.Suspected PF cadres harassed Mr Hamiyanze when he featured on the Mazabuka community radio station programme where he spoke about the importance of the PF holding its convention.

  17. Speaking in an interview in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Zulu said that the demand by PF members that the party should hold a convention were genuine as that would result in the opposition party becoming stronger.“We condemn the harassment of Mr Hamiyanze because it is an uncalled for and unwarranted.There is no justification by any PF member to support the harassment of a genuine member,” Mr Zulu said.

  18. Mr Zulu said that it was regrettable that the PF was harassing members that had divergent views particularly on the convention.As such, he said factions would continue emerging in the opposition party.“Because of the failure to hold the convention, we strongly feel that the PF is not properly organised. The call by members that we should go for a convention is not asking for a favour but that is our right,” Mr Zulu said.He said that those members were against the convention were brewing divisions in the party.Mr Zulu also said as Zambia starts preparations for the next year’s elections, it was imperative that the electorate started scrutinising political leaders.

  19. He said that the leaders that do not respect the rights of the citizens or those that failed to hold conventions should not be given an opportunity to lead the country after the 2011 polls.“Those leaders that fail to hold conventions and do not support human rights when they are still in opposition should not rule this country.They will be worse when they are in Government,” Mr Zulu said.

  20. Ok Chanda apa pena wamenya mune!! The current mode of having conventions is bogus.The delegates are a mere formality of an already made decision.Take for instance what happened in Kabwe MMD convention in 2001,some eligible and longtime delegates were not allowed to enter cos the then NatSec Sata had drafted new ones to suit him and Chiluba.Nawakwi can attest to this.

  21. I think this is PF propaganda to try and avoid a convention. Why are they scared.hamiyanze teach tese cowards what a convention does.Conventions are quite universal world over even in the US, Uk ….everwhere

  22. CHANDA, that was a very good observation. However, that can’t happen in Zambia today. 1. I am pretty sure that all political parties are largely, funded by their presidents. That means if the president is dis-elected most probably the elected president will not be financially sound to support the party. Therefore, one thing you forgot to suggest is that the government should fund the political parties. But, that also has a lot of implications ranging from priority to dishonest by authorities.

  23. You see, the situation in Zambia is a complex one. Priority, am pretty sure is to remove mmd from power. Hopefully, with lessons learnt the new gvt with the Zambian people will start correcting the mistakes-economic, political, etc. Economic mistakes will be no.1 on the agenda. This is by way of dealing with investors, and gvt taking kin interest in the establishment of manufacturing industry rather than raw material externalisation. When the gvt has money, it can also take kin interest in civic education for citizens. Zambians are not civically educated and it can even be noticed on this blog.

  24. I totally agree with Chanda Phiri on intra-party democracy in Zambia. Now is the time for our nation to invest in strong institutions of governance and not in strong men. The strongman mentality which is ingrained in the minds of of a kind of leadership that has been recycled for too long has destroyed our nation. Dictatorship which starts in political parties extends to government once elected. Young people are now being used as instruments of violence. Now is the time for a new people with new mindsets to passionately work towards a new properous Zambia in which there is dignity and justice for all. Despite what has become of Zambia, we have to choose hope over despair and unity over division.

  25. Civically, educated citizens are more aware of internal politics of a state and to some appreciable extent, external. Civically, educated citizens are more likely to elect a more pro-active leader whose interest is to serve the citizens and not his pocket. But, today if what Chanda is suggesting was to be followed, probably Sata and HH will not be re-elected back to their positions which will make mmd win 2011 elections. It is a complicated issue. But, we will definitely, start to correct democratic mistakes after 2011 elections when mmd are kicked out.

  26. To bring about the change we need all Zambians must unite. By 1990/91 when the UNIP dictatorship destroyed our country, all progressive Zambians united in solidarity under the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to demand the restoration of plural politics. It was a decision that they made. Today, this generation must decide to choose change, but before doing so we must look at where we coming from and refuse recycling because it means repeating the same old failed UNIP ideas. Let us remember that in 1991, the people of Zambia demanded change, which is not forthcoming. They have waited patiently for too long. Twenty years is too much time to give anybody. The only change that the MMD has delivered to the people is the change in three Presidents under the same party.

  27. The case for Mr. Banda confirms that recycling in politics in suicidal. It confirms that people who have made politics their way of life cannot be entrusted with state power any longer. We cannot have recycled leaders who married in politics, produced children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren in politics. No we cannot Zambians! Zambia deserves better! It is now clear that the old generation of politicians can only bring to today’s politics intimidation, stone throwing, patronage, insults, arson, character assassination, and any dirt that one can think of. We cannot blame them because that is how politics was defined in their time. That is the experience that they have, but we do not need it in this digitalized and highly dynamic era. We can only thank them for independence.

  28. A message of hope must begin with the people themselves who should move in solidarity to determine the future of Zambia believing that under God Almighty we can transform Zambia into a land of prosperity and happiness. The change we need is not just the removal of the MMD from power in 2011 elections or any such earlier date that God may decide in His Sovereignty, but the removal of a recycled leadership to pave way for progressive change which is about the people. Zambia is not short of workable plans; Zambia has had a people with new mindsets blocked or vilified by those who have made politics a livelihood.

  29. For sometime now a failed politics practiced by an outdated cobwebbed 20th Century leadership has prescribed to the people what they need instead of listening to the people to set priorities.

    All Zambians from North to South, East to West must stand up and choose order over mediocrity. The people must choose hope over despair; they must choose courage over fear.

    The people of Zambia must stand together in solidarity under the banner of “One Zambia One Nation”, our creed to inspire a shared vision of giving every Zambian chance to pursue broad based opportunities to true happiness.

    Change is not in words, it is about practical changes that can be seen by all.

  30. The increase in corruption cases of the twenty year misrule of the MMD is not change. I sounded a warning to the people of Zambia that there was massive corruption under the Mwanawasa regime two years ago and I invited President Mwanawasa to arrest me to no avail.

    Trillions of Kwacha remain unaccounted for under the MMD. Corruption has gone on unabated in day light under the current de facto UNIP Government under the banner of the failed MMD.

    Inflating of contract prices to siphon the taxes that Zambians pay with blood and sweat is not change. Tarring a kilometer is now K7bn as compared to K1bn a few years ago.

    The current developments under the MMD cannot be said to the change which the people demanded in 1991. Certainly, what we are seeing is not change!

  31. It is not change to have leaders in Government who think they own Zambia.

    Every Zambian is a shareholder in this enterprise called Zambia. We are all beneficiaries in this estate left for us by men and women whose blood was shed during the independence struggle and in the graves they lie silently today.

    It is not change to have leaders who think they have the monopoly of wisdom to govern the country.

    It is not change to have a mediocre leadership that lives in open contempt of God’s commandments.

    It is not change to have leaders who begin to conduct the affairs of Government as if they will forever remain in power. I have warned several times that the only permanent Kingdom is the Kingdom of God.

  32. Impressive stuff from Saviour. Any ideas on who we as Zambians should rally for in 2011 other than the obviously recycled 2 chaps?

  33. Mathew 4:8-11. This scripture can teach us some thing. For christians, it is a good example for them not to be part of this worl. 1 Yohane 5:19 for sure tell us that politics belong to Satan.

  34. A am amused by the explanation given regarding the political development in Zambia. I work for the UN Security Council in New York and have always thought something isnt getting to the right direction in Zambia since the demise of the late Levy. The world is watching at you brother Zambia. Change or get marginalized!

  35. No dictatorship and violence should tolarated. All political parties should ad hire to democratic tendenciesm.

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