By Sean Tembo – PeP President
1. As one of the key advocates of issue-based politics in Zambia, l have always looked forward to the release of the much talked about New Manifesto for the main opposition United Party for National Development. Now that it is out, it is time for me to give my views of what l think about it. For those UPND members and supporters that may have a thin skin and are fuming that l am discussing their beloved party’s new manifesto, l wish to remind them that that’s what issued-based politics is all about; you release your new manifesto, we your competitors poke some holes in it, you defend your position and the Zambian people make their own judgement and conclusion. That’s how the much talked about democracy works.
2. First of all l wish to state that l was impressed with the graphic design and presentation format. I think it was very much on point. Also l think the size of 20 pages was perfect. Not too small and not too big. This is often a difficult balance to strike. The last version of the PF Manifesto that l was reading had 67 pages, and l think that was too bulky. Suffice to mention that our PeP Manifesto is 24 pages, so we had some kind of meeting of the minds with the UPND and their 20 page new manifesto here.
3. My overall take on the substance of the new UPND manifesto is that it was very big on what a potential UPND Government will do for Zambia and very thin on how they will do it. In the few areas where they included the “HOW”, it lacked specificity and was largely just a waffle. For example, under Chapter 3, the paragraph on private sector development says that this will be achieved by “improving the business environment and reducing the cost of doing business” but does not specify how the business environment will be improved or how the cost of doing business will be reduced.
This makes it difficult for any reasonable Zambian to determine whether or not the UPND have a good plan for the country’s economic development. Now compare and contrast with Chapter 10 of the 2018 PeP Manifesto on Reforms in the Business Environment which states in paragraph 15; “a PeP Government will ensure that the cost of doing business in Zambia is significantly reduced by, among other things, eliminating the number of licenses that a business requires in order to operate. This will be done through the establishment of a National Licensing Authority that will be a one-stop licensing authority which will issue a single license that will cover everything from fire, health etc.” It is only when a manifesto is specific that people can take a position on whether they agree with it or not. But the new UPND Manifesto is neither here nor there.
Many reasonable Zambians are likely to doubt that a potential Republican President who is unable to pay attention to the detail of a one page statement will be able to pay attention to the details of running an entire country with its complex social-economic dynamics.
4. I was also disappointed with the first Chapter of the new UPND Manifesto which talked about “Message from the President”. First of all, the entire chapter is laced with too many grammatical and spelling mistakes. Now, we are not saying that any of us is an Englishman here, no. Of course English is not our first language. But if a potential Republican President in a one-page statement, then the grammar and spellings have to be on point. The same amount of effort and attention to detail that was allocated to the graphic design of the new UPND Manifesto, should have been allocated to correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes in the document, especially in the first chapter that talked about a “Message from the President”. This is especially so because the UPND Party President put his portrait there.
If you sign a statement or put your portrait there, then you better make sure that the content is on point, otherwise you end up looking like a joker who is not serious. For example, in line 17 of the Message from the President, it says; “…They can rest assured that through our collective effort …” Instead of; “…They can BE rest assured that through our collective effort…” Many reasonable Zambians are likely to doubt that a potential Republican President who is unable to pay attention to the detail of a one page statement will be able to pay attention to the details of running an entire country with its complex social-economic dynamics. There appears to be no evidence of competence here.
5. I was equally taken aback by the propensity in the new UPND Manifesto, to book-lift other people’s ideas without permission. This shows a total lack of innovation and competence. For example, the theme for the new UPND Manifesto is; creating a United Prosperous and Equitable Zambia. This bears an eerie resemblance to President Charles Chanda’s United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ) party. In fact l do believe that Mr Charles Chanda can sue for copyright infringement here. As the main opposition political party in Zambia today, surely the UPND can do better than a copy and paste job of other people’s ideas.
6. I could go on and on, but of late l have received too many complaints about the length of my articles, so l will seek to oblige the linguistically uninitiated and end here. But before l do, if l was allowed to score the new UPND Manifesto, l would give it a 3 out of 10. And all the 3 points are for presentation. Substance theliz no