By Sity Mwitu
Mr. Hakainde Hichilema (popularly known as HH) is a great person almost in everything except a few political hick ups that he needs to patch up before the 2011 Presidential election takes place. In the 21st century, it is no doubt that the caliber of HH would be the best ideal environment in politics as regards national leadership, but alas in every cupboard there is a skeleton. HH is a refined man in terms of quality education and he has proved his business acumen, though some people still have doubts because of the business role he played in the privatization, receivership or liquidation of some of the Parastatal companies. He was a disciple of a great states man, the late Anderson Mazoka. HH is still young and energetic resonating the required capacity to deal with the complex 21st century problems faced by many African countries. It is also of no doubt that many Zambians would prefer having HH in state house rather than anybody else given his profile, personal intelligence and achievements. But if HH can manage to correct some of the political hick ups that gave birth to his public political career and which continue to cloud his political image, he stands a better chance to be one of the best and most successful Presidents Zambia could have ever produced.
First and foremost, HH needs to correct the foundation of his public political leadership in the UPND. HH has to sit down and see how he will clean the dirty political cloud of tribalism that he and his tribesmen unleashed on unsuspecting non-Tongas like Sikota and Chisanga, who were at that time, Vice- Presidents to the late Mazoka. When concerned people mention this element, it does not mean that they hate him, no; they just say this in good faith and they know that HH has the capacity to clean his tribalism record. His public political ascension to the throne of UPND Presidency, which was based on tribalism, has left a hurting political scar in the minds of many voters. In addition, his public humiliation of his tribal cousin Sikota Wina left many Lozis to have no respect for him. He may have branches and supporters in Western Province; the political wounds he inflicted on Sikota permeates through many Lozis and these need to be healed if he intends to get some good votes from Western Province. HH needs not only to apologize to the BRE and its traditional leadership in Western Province, but also to the entire nation at large as regards the way he ascended to the UPND Presidency. Time may seem to have past, but past, especially hurting, feelings do not fade away such easily in the hearts of people if they are either potential or existing voters. Humility is the key to ascending to top leadership of any given society.
The second dirty political cloud that HH needs to clean is that of always wanting to be a leader and not a follower. Quality education, money and power may not be the best parameters to measure one’s suitability for political leadership. It is not necessary true that if one is successful in both the academic and business environment, then it is automatic that one would also be successful in politics, especially at the Presidency level. HH does not know how it feels to be a public political follower. Some philosophers have said that without being a good and obedient follower, one may find it difficult to lead others towards the realization of a common political goal. Our political leadership speaks volumes of how the Zambian Presidency has always been divinely allocated.
The first Republican President was a follower as Party Secretary General of UNIP before he assumed UNIP leadership. Dr. FTJ Chiluba was a follower under the late Authar Wina as MMD Chairperson. When MMD stopped the late Andy Mazoka from contesting the top MMD Executive post, he went for the lower post and he won, but we all know what happened, hence the birth of UPND. The late President Dr. Mwanawasa was also a follower in the MMD party as well as Vice-President of Zambia under the leadership of DR. Chiluba. Our current President Mr. RB has a good record of having been a good follower in the days of UNIP under Dr. Kaunda. Mr. RB despite his age also agreed to be a follower of a young man, the late President Dr. Mwanawasa. Sata also holds a good record of being a good and obedient follower of Dr. Kaunda during the UNIP era as well as that of Dr. FTJ Chiluba. There is great leadership wisdom to be gained in being a good follower than always imposing one’s leadership on people. This is a syndrome that is destroying many energetic and potential Zambian Presidents of the 21st Century; the spirit of always wanting to lead and not to be lead. I remember when Professor Clive Chirwa just came back from the UK; he was talking big as regards his ambition for the Zambian Presidency. He even gave MMD a tough time, but later on he ended up joining the same party he had earlier on condemned. At one point he even made some monetary donations to the MMD party. But today is under the tutorship of being a good and obedient follower under HH’s leadership. Formal knowledge may be gained in classrooms, but not wisdom. Sometimes people that God provide as our leaders may not fit our own judgment and criteria to be our leaders, but if they offer us such a chance to be their followers, again humility is the key to great political leadership. Other people in this life may be meant to be bridges in order to enable others to cross the troubled waters.
The third dirty political cloud that HH needs to clean is the PF-UPND Pact failure. It may not be the first time PF’s Micheal Sata could have entered into a strategic political partnership with other political parties. At one particular time, Mr. Sikota’s ULP had an alliance with PF that saw them go into election as an alliance. Because of this alliance, both parties added value to their parties. Although the people of Western Province still had mixed feelings about Sata, they gave their backing to ULP and this is how ULP won some seats. The failure of the pact saw some ULP elected MPs change their allegiance to PF, the case of Hon Given Lubinda Kabwata MP and others. But now it’s a different story for ULP. The PF-ULP pact failed because Sata did not win the Presidency, but Mr. Sikota who was willing to become the Vice-President if Sata won, stood as Livingstone constituency MP and he won. He could have won the MP seat on his own popularity, but we cannot deny of the Sata influence factor in his election as Livingstone MP. As for HH, when he formed the alliance between UPND and FDD, Ms. Edith Nawakwi agreed to HH’s leadership. Ms. Nawakwi had put all her eggs in one political basket called UPND and when the political basket fell down and broke, all her eggs also broke. What I am trying to say here is that HH has never wanted to learn to be a follower even when the doors of his political leadership are yearning for him just to do that. As a result, HH has always portrayed himself to be the best suited Presidential candidate even within the PF-UPND pact and this is what will kill the PF-UPND pact if Mr. HH does not take heed to constructive criticism and advice. The PF-UPND pact may be the bridge that Mr. HH would need to use in the future in order for him to cross these dirty political clouds hanging over his political career for him to step into State House, which will probably be the last great achievement in his life here on Earth. But this will not be achieved if he continues to insist that he is the best candidate for the pact when the ratio of popularity and ethnic support between Sata and HH are uneven, of which at the moment Sata appears to enjoy a favourable portion of this ratio. The combination of PF-UPND is what is needed to remove the MMD from power. Again humility is the key to great leadership. If HH agreed in principle to become the Vice President and Sata runs for President and they form the next government this year in 2011, HH stands a chance to gain a lot. Yes, Mr. Sata may be unreliable and cunning, but he is also a human being who cannot fight the grand plan of God. Everyone knows that Sata is advanced in age. He may or he may not be able to complete his two terms of office knowing that he is a performer. Who knew that Mr. RB would become President upon his appointment as Vice President? HH is a risk taker and he should not be afraid to be disappointed by Mr. Sata. As human beings, we should not forget that life has its own ways of appointing and disappointing people. Therefore, currently, HH has to fight the two baits before him; on one hand, that is if he wants to stand as a sole UPND candidate. The risk with this option is that if he lost the 2011 Presidential election, HH stands to destroy his political career for good. HH should not forget that the beefing of UPND Party by people like Professor Clive Chirwa is not a good political signal for HH to continue to remain at the helm of UPND. Even other Party leaders like Mr. Gary Nkhombo and others would want to test the top UPND leadership positions after being good followers. The story of Mr. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair of the UK serves the case. On the other hand, the MMD bait is not a good political investment because people have already resolved in their hearts to get rid of MMD whether Mr. RB, as President of Zambia for the past two half years, has either done very well or not. The people are just fed up of MMD. Therefore, Mr. HH should not entertain such detracting plans or thoughts of an MMD-UPND pact as best choice for political investment if he still wants to enter State House. For this reason, it is not too late for HH to learn followership under Mr. Sata if he ever wanted to be the President of Zambia. I do not mean to demean the significance of Mr. HH in the Zambian political arena, but the current political situation under the MMD and given the allegations of MMD rigging of past elections, it would be impossible for HH to enter State House on his own accord. Mr. Sata could be laying a strong ground for HH’s election into State House if the pact formed government this year in 2011. If the pact between David Cameron as the Prime Minister of UK and Nick Clegg as the Deputy Prime Minister could work after the two came together to form government, why would Mr. Sata be such a devil to through away his human feelings towards others. If Sata was such a devil, people like Dr. Guy Scot, Mr. Winter Kambimba and other men of high standing in the PF would have already ditched him. But there could be something of value that these men and women have discovered in Mr. Sata that HH needs to discover also by interacting with these men and women that close to Mr. Sata.
The last but not is the least is the tribe divide factor within the UPND party structure. On one hand there are some party officials who are advocating for strategic political partnership between MMD and UPND and on the other hand those advocating for PF-UPND pact. The bravery and intelligence that God has invested heavily in Mr. HH should not make him fail to put his house in order by bringing the two extremes factions together and sell the PF-UPND pact as the best option if at all the 2001 UPND dream of being in government is to come to pass. Therefore, going alone as it has been stated of late in the press is not a good option for HH’s political career. For this reason, it is not too late for HH to learn followership under Mr. Sata if he ever wanted to be the President of Zambia. This does not mean that HH can never the President of Zambia unless is under Sata, but the current political scenario favours Mr. HH to go under such an arrangement with Mr. Sata and again humility is the key to great political leadership.