By Henry Kyambalesa
Since independence, government leaders have tended to be preoccupied with serving the interests of their political parties at the expense of pressing national issues. In part, such a situation has been fostered by a political system that allows individuals to hold government and party positions concurrently. This has inevitably distorted the boundary between national duties and party activities, and has culminated into what is commonly referred to as “the Party and Its Government” or “the PIG” phenomenon.
Since the Vice President George Kunda recently flagged off the MMD campaign for the 2011 general elections, we are likely to see some of the government ministers and their deputies on the campaign trail from now until the day of the elections.
Clearly, we would do well to emulate the United States of America, where members of the President’s cabinet or their deputies would never be seen to be directly involved in campaigning for the President or for anyone vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. There is, therefore, a need to delink the operations of the current and future ruling political parties from the operations of the national Government.
In this endeavor, we should strive for a constitutional proviso that bars national leaders from actively performing political party functions. Alternatively, the Registrar of Societies should require all political parties in the country to include a clause in their constitutions which provides for duties of party members who get elected or appointed to serve in either the judiciary or the executive branch of the national government to be assumed by incumbents of other offices within the party’s administrative and management structures.
We need to do so in order to put an end to the situation where the Republican president, the Republican vice president and government ministers seem to be spending their on-the-job time performing MMD functions than they do on serving the larger Zambian society. It is high time for each and every government leader in our beloved country to put the national interest before all other considerations!
Needless to say, “the PIG” phenomenon is partly to blame for MMD cadres’ violence or threats of violence against citizens who dare to criticize government leaders in the belief that the leaders are accountable to the citizenry and are, therefore, subject to criticism for perceived malfeasance and/or mediocrity in discharging their duties.
In short hand, the cadres conceive of government leaders firstly as being MMD leaders and secondly as being national leaders. They are probably right, considering the partisan demeanor of President Rupiah Banda, Vice President Kunda, Minister of Works and Supply Mike Mulongoti, Minister of Home Affairs Lameck Mangani, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Ronnie Shikapwasha, Deputy Minister of Lands Michael Mabenga, and a few other government leaders.