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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mayoral polls reveal Pact shaky ground

Columns Feature Column Mayoral polls reveal Pact shaky ground

The recently-held mayoral elections in Lusaka once again brought to the fore the simmering problems in the pact between opposition Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND).

They were at it again, contesting against each other, going against their memorandum of understanding that stipulates that the two parties would not contest against each other.

In the Lusaka mayoral polls, the councilors from either party were sizing each other and openly differing. Where has this clear principle of no contest against each other gone?

PF vice-president Guy Scott later revealed that the pact faced a rebellion from Lusaka city councilors during the elections for the position of mayor and deputy Mayor.

Hardly surprising, especially that there is no constant interaction between these councillors and their national leaders such as Dr Scott.

According to Dr Scott, the pact leadership had resolved that the PF should take the position of mayor in Lusaka while the position of deputy mayor was reserved for UPND but some councilors from the pact sponsored their own candidates, which defeated the cause of the pact.

This indeed was a total rebellion. These are issues that the pact should not just comment on and forget but should investigate and get to the real causes before prescribing solutions.

Some councillors within UPND and some in PF held their own caucus rejecting the ideals and rationale behind the decision to share the position.

Now Dr Scott is challenging the councillors who attempted to fight the pact to resign immediately to allow the two political parties concentrate on strengthening the alliance.

The thinking of the pact, according to Dr Scoot, was that the conduct of the councillors had exposed the divisions in the pact but was hopeful that they would be resolved.

“I want to challenge them to go to hell. What are they still doing in the pact if they want to be rebels? Let them resign,” Dr Scott said.

It is surprising that Dr Scott still thinks councillors were in the dark about what was politically wrong and correct.

The thinking of the pact, according to Dr Scoot, was that the conduct of the councillors had exposed the divisions in the pact but was hopeful that they would be resolved.

“I want to challenge them to go to hell. What are they still doing in the pact if they want to be rebels? Let them resign,” Dr Scott said.

People such as the newly-elected Lusaka mayor Daniel Chisenga hold very high academic qualifications and are able to articulate issues of national nature. The language being used by Dr Scott seems demeaning and indicative of the dictatorial attitude of the top PF leadership.

But despite all this, the councillors defied the national leadership’s directive with impunity. Threats or evictions from the party are not a solution in this case.

The cause of the trouble and such rebellion from the councillors must purely be blamed on the pact national leadership. Let them get down to the grassroots for the answers.

When the two parties first challenged each other in the August Kaoma and Lundazi local government by-elections, they pointed fingers at each other for defying the pact memorandum.

That was allowed to pass, of course with comments and emotional reactions from individual members from either party.

For sympathisers from the PF and the UPND, the Kaoma and Lundazi scuffle was just another pointer to the real issues surrounding the pact but which have been ignored.

Both PF leader Michael Sata and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema strongly supported their respective parties’ decision to challenge each other.

The plight of the pact between the PF and the UPND lies in the decision that Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema make, not what the membership feels is right or wrong. So what really is causing the antagonism in the pact, especially when it comes to deciding on which partners contest a position?

The idea of the pact formation was commended by all well-meaning Zambians as it not only promoted integration of two parties, but came as a symbol of unity among various political parties in Zambia regardless of the region of descent for the leaders.

It appears the grassroots of the PF-UPND membership find it easy to defy their national management directives with impunity. This is common in any institution where there are no properly established structures to manage the whole system.

It does appear that the grassroots have the respective command system that does not really need the support of the senior party leadership.

Almost just a year before the 2011 election, the pact only has a joint committee of national executive members from the PF and the UPND that also rarely meets to discuss political issues.

This means that the existence of this pact is only at national level and not even at ward level where councillors such as those that defied their respective parties’ orders in the Lusaka mayoral election are found.

Councillors, for instance in Lusaka District, do not hold any senior party positions apart from representing their wards. This lack of direct linkage with their national executive and mostly missing constant consultation leaves the decision making process rough and usually without loyalty to superiors.

Does it mean that the pact does not need grassroots joint structure to just coordinate issues smoothly?

The management of a political party is at the ward and the constituency levels and not through a committee of senior national executive committee members who are sometimes not even known by the cadres out their in the far-flung areas of the country.

The failure by the pact to realise this and just the absence of constant dialogue among the leaders from the two parties seem to have cost them greatly.

Things are no longer the same in the pact especially after the recently held by-elections in Luena and Chifubu constituencies.

The PF celebration of the loss of the UPND in Luena seems to have angered the partner greatly and was further aggravated by the defence made by Mr Sata of his vice-president Dr Scott’s scathing remarks on the partner party.

The PF’s celebration of the loss of the UPND in Luena to the Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD) was in bad taste despite the fact that the party was reaffirming its commitment to the pact.

It seems Mr Hichilema is now more on a sober and softer side in his approach to politics as seen in his recent Press briefing where he called for more unity among politicians.

He also seems to be gathering courage to advise his older partner on the need to follow proper etiquette in handling pact issues. Respect for each other and procedure.

The admission by the UPND that no single opposition political party at the moment could defeat the MMD unless through a pact is indeed an interesting observation. But is the PF also alive to this reality?

Even as a joint force it appears defeating the MMD in 2011 would not be easy. The PF and the UPND have various challenges which they themselves have created but do not want to address timely. Their differences as political parties are much more than their areas of unity.

PF leaders seem to have paid a blind eye to some of the critical issues that some people have raised about the pact.

The PF seem to have established a hypocritical approach where they have comforted themselves with misguidance that they could win the 2011 election single handedly and do not care about the UPND. PF itself has loads of internal problems even more than those in the partner party.

The recent resignation of people such as Chileshe Mulenga, a very senior official and critical to the mobilisation of the PF to its present state is another big issue in the pact. It was shocking to hear Mr Sata describing Dr Mulenga in such a derogatory manner after he announced his resignation.

For those in the light about where the PF came from, they would agree that Dr Mulenga’s departure is not something one could simply slapdash or smile at and forget. It’s a great loss and the PF should think over it.

The attempted resignation of Kasama Member of Parliament (MP) Geoffrey Mwamba from his seat following the suspension from the position of chairperson for elections obviously opened up some PF members’ eyes as to what playing double standards is in politics.

Nobody has and should support Mr Mwamba for battering his wife. It was wrong and it remains wrong. But Mr Sata’s decision to suspend him without following laid-down disciplinary procedures seemed to have angered Mr Mwamba.

There are many MPs in the PF today that have gone against the law. Some of them like Ndola Central MP Mark Mushili were even convicted of criminal offences and served sentences but did not receive any admonition from Mr Sata or the PF as a party.

The same for Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili who was also convicted in a Luanshya magistrates court. Others such as Mandevu and Munali MPs are also appearing in courts of law for some offences but have remained active in the party.

These clear double standards seem to have hurt Mr Mwamba prompting him to make an emotional decision of resigning and later rescinding it. Why has Mr Sata allowed criminally convicted MPs such as Mr Mushili to continue enjoying party support?

The delays to announce the candidate for the pact seem to be the major issue at the moment. UPND national youth Chairperson Joe Kalusa thinks the failure to quickly come up with a candidate for the 2011 polls would cost the pact greatly.

The same views are being shared by the PF youth wing. But apart from just expressing concern on the delay the youths from the two parties have given the pact leaders a one month ultimatum to announce the candidate.

Such ultimatums should not be seen as rebellions but a sign of commitment by the young politicians to see progress being made by their elders. It is clear that they have noticed a lot of laxity on the part of their leaders, hence the need to jerk them up.

Will Mr Sata and Mr Hichilema respect the ultimatum by the youths for them to come up with a solution of the candidate or they will ignore them?

While time is slowly moving towards the 2011 elections, procrastination also seems to deeply consolidate itself in the pact. Are the leaders really failing to address issues of leadership in pact?

Issues raised by youth in the PF and UPND are important and should not just be observed. The realisation by Mr Hichilema that the UPND would find it hard to win the 2011 polls single handedly should also ring bells in the PF. This is just reality. But how long will this time-wasting continue in the pact.

Instead of making false assumptions on issues such as the election date, leaders like Mr Sata should focus their energies on addressing the leadership deadlock in the pact.

They should also stop pretending that they are ready for elections even if the date was announced at short notice. In this case, time has really run out for the pact but nobody wishes them failure.
[ Times of Zambia ]

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  1. Whilst problems are there in the pact they can be tabled and resolved. The trouble is that most of these problems are sponsored and engineered by the enemies of the pact who knows for sure that once the pact succeeds that will signal the end of MMD mafia rule. Viva UPND/PF Pact.

  2. which pact isnt this a dead stinking torso waiting to be feasted on by hyenas and vultures. talk about developmental issues like schools hospitals mri roads imf bumper harvest


  4. What are they still doing in the pact if they want to be rebels? Let them resign,” Dr Scott said.
    Come again Dr Scott, resign from the Pact you say? Look Doctor, everybody knows that the members of the Pact are PF and UPND, but that is NOT the same as saying that the individual members of the PF and UPND feel that they are members of the Pact. It is a known fact that there are many members in both parties who do not agree with their leaders’ Pact but they certainly believe that they are members of PF or UPND, hence the confusion. You can expel someone from either the UPND or PF but I am not sure that the same is true of the Pact. Someone enlighten me, please?

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