Can the pact provide the change Zambia needs?

revor Simumba

In the last few months we have seen the best and the worst of the Pact. The fact that both members of the Pact continue to pretend that they are still united we have seen some big cracks begin to appear within the Pact and both parties begin to lose ground even though the continue to mask their differences by blaming the others. Today, the Conservatives and the Liberals have published their joint policy programme for Government entitled “The Coalition – Our programme for Government”. This remarkable achievement has been done in just nine (9) days. This has been achieved between two parties that have always been miles apart in policy but for the sake of the national interest they have come together in a coalition Government.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg hailed the deal as a “historic document in British politics” in a joint foreword, saying: “As our parties have worked together it has become increasingly clear to us that, though there are differences, there is also common ground.” Where is this common ground in the case of UPND and PF.? Is the common ground simply hatred for Rupiah? One wonders why the UPND/PF Pact after almost a year have failed to even come up with a solid proposal on how they will choose their leadership, let alone even have a common policy agenda discussed or agreed? The pact is simply riding on the need for a change from the ruling party rather than giving the people of Zambia a vision that we can latch on to propel Zambia to greater heights.

The newly formed ADD has even been able to outline a vision already and Mr. Milupi who has been a consistent performer in Parliament has shown his intent by doing the right thing and resigning his seat in order to focus on his Presidential bid. How many of the current crop of politicians can match the consistency and civil manner of Mr. Milupi. Alas because he has decided to go it alone he is already facing attacks from the Pact and also from the MMD. It is very clear that Zambian politics is no longer a game for the principled but a game for thugs and noisemakers. When it was said a few months ago by this author that this ‘was the beginning of the end for the Pact’ all sorts of so called Pact supporters descended and poured out so much scorn. It is interesting to note that out of the many Pact cadres and supporters none of them were able to put across a coherent argument or point of view to dispute the author’s opinion. In a democracy we fight with ideas not with panga’s as the case was in Mufumbwe.

But the events of the last one month during the two recent bye-elections show that there are serious cracks in the Pact. Both HH and MCS are now speaking at cross-purposes and they have not appeared together since the bye-elections. MCS continues to issue statements based on him standing for the Presidency in 2011 and is bogged down daily responding to issues rather than setting the agenda. He is so pre-occupied by the Chiluba factor that it is inhibiting him from growing his constituency beyond Lusaka , Northern and Copperbelt. In fact in the last elections, MMD made unprecedented inroads. Out of the eight local by elections, MMD won five, including grabbing from PF strongholds. MMD grabbed two PF seats in Northern Province ( Chilubi Island ) and a seat in Luapula (Mwansabombwe). Further, the UPND candidate in Mufumbwe, who had been MMD for years, is a popular candidate on his own. In 2006, he stood as an independent and lost the seat by only 60 votes. Now with the backing of PF and UPND, he won by only 304 ballots, which is a very slim majority and does not in any way, symbolize a great move against the MMD.

These results have been studied by the Pact and they know that they are simply not good enough and if they do not decide now on their candidate they will not be able to deal with the divisions that will come either way. It is best to choose the candidate now, decide on the division of constituencies and be able to have enough time to deal with the inevitable desertions and unhappiness now rather than during an election year. More importantly, the Pact must give Zambians a vision we can buy into and not just RB this, RB that!! Zambians are not fools we are more sophisticated than that and we need to see policy issues discussed properly. If the Pact continues in this confused and non focused state they will surely fail because it is very clear that progressive forces on the ground will form a much stronger alliance with the MMD that could possibly bring UNIP, ADD and NAREP together in order to preserve the unity and peace of Zambia . 2011 will be a very interesting year for Zambia.

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