By Daimone Siulapwa
OVER the past few months, the talk has been mostly on Mbita Chitala and Mike Mulongoti, who only a few months ago, seemed to be men woven in the ruling MMD linen before falling out of favour with the MMD.
Chitala is a former Ambassador to Libya while Mulongoti is a former Minister of Works and Supply, who at some point also served as Chief Government spokesperson. It was not long that these two men were seen defending the MMD policies in a way that seemed like their next breath depended on that very act.
But times change, or rather human beings change, and the two are now among the staunchest critics of the government and President Rupiah Banda. The two can say whatever they want to say as the justification for their change of stance, but one thing is clear, it is driven by what they can get personally from the other end. Added to that is personal vengeance, nothing more nothing less, for it is clear that ideologically, the two seem not to have any problems with the MMD policies which they have been defending for the better part of two decades.
For that very reason, it is advised that these two men, at best, be ignored by right-thinking citizens of this country who want to see this poor nation move forward economically, politically and socially.
But then, that is not all, there is another section that we need to be guard against – we are talking about the so-called Patriotic Front ‘rebel’ Members of Parliament. These MPs fell out of favour with the PF following their decision to participate in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), a decision which was against their party (or Michael Sata’s stance).
The decision to attend the NCC forced the party to expel them, and as things stand now, they are only clinging to their positions through a court injunction. The interpretation of this court injunction, in an ideal situation, would be that these MPs do not want to be forced out of their party. In other words, these are members who would not find comfort anywhere else other than the PF, the party they believe best represents their interests and that of the nation.
But going by the conduct of these individuals, it is quite clear that they do not believe in the PF policies and programmes at all. The injunction they sought which has kept them in Parliament to date has more to do with protecting their personal fortunes than anything else.
Put simply, they fear that their expulsion from the PF will make them lose out on the gratuities that MPs are expected to receive at the end of their current terms in Parliament.
However, these MPs claim that their differences with the PF stem from the fact that the party leader is dictatorial in nature, and for them, they have simply refused to give in to him. In other words, they have no problem with the policies of the PF as a party, but the leadership skills of its leader.
Assuming this was indeed true, what is the best action that these PF MPs ought to have taken? The best was to go the way Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction led by Professor Arthur Mutambara undertook.
After differing with Morgan Tsvangarai, they simply walked out and formed their own party. They took this move knowing very well of the risks involved which included starting all over afresh. The same can be said about the Congress of the People (COPE) which broke away from South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) following the recall of Thabo Mbeki. In other words, in a democracy, this is what people do when they differ on some fundamental issues. And differing with the party leader on his leadership skills as have the PF ‘rebel’ MPs is very fundamental.
The only way they can justify their stay in the party is under the pretext of trying to reform the party from within. But going by their conduct since their falling out, it is quite clear that they are not trying to fight from within. These are people merely waiting for Parliament to dissolve and then get their gratuity after which they will move to another party.
These MPs, led by Luapula MP Peter Machungwa and his Matero counterpart Faustina Sinyangwe, have been behaving more like MMD than PF members since their falling out. In fact, they have been more vocal in defending MMD policies than the MMD members themselves. The result or evidence of this lies in the fact that one of their kith and kin Besa Chambaka, who is Bahati MP, has been rewarded with an appointment as Luapula province Minister by President Rupiah Banda.
For the uninitiated, what this means is that these MPs are waiting for Parliament to be dissolved and for the MMD to hopefully adopt them as parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming general elections. In other words, for them, it is about what they can personally get out of a given arrangement. In this case, aligning themselves with RB and disparaging Michael Sata, their supposed party leader.
Now just like PF leader Michael Sata ought to be wary of characters like Mike Mulongoti and Mbita Chitala, who are seemingly showing him support for what is obviously personal gain, the MMD should likewise be cautious. These are people ready to support a particular candidate in the morning, a different one at noon, yet another in the evening, and another at mid-night and again another at dawn.
These people are a danger to our society! They do not deserve another chance. If the ‘rebel’ MPs feel that the leadership of RB is way better than that of Michael Sata, then they should resign their membership and jump ship. They should not worry about the cost of the by-elections; it is us the tax payers who will bear the costs. It is the price we have to pay for the multi-party democracy we were calling for. On the other hand, if they agree with the PF policies and only disagree with the leadership style, then they are still free to break loose and form their own party much the same way the MDC and ANC comrades did.
Otherwise, these people deserve to be discarded, just like Mbita Chitala and Mike Mulongoti. In any case, some of these only joined the PF after being rejected as candidates on the MMD ticket in 2006. This simply means that these characters are willing to take any action to secure their personal fortunes.
A sad scenario indeed for a country which proclaims to be in a hurry to develop!