MMD national secretary Richard Kachingwe says the party has formed a working alliance with the UPND with the two parties agreeing to support each other in the upcoming by elections.
Under the loose alliance the UPND will field a candidate in Magoye while the MMD will contest the Nakonde seat.
Major Kachingwe said in a press statement in Lusaka yesterday the party will also assess the possibility of participating in the Chongwe by-election in view of what he termed the intimidation taking place there.
“The NEC has also appointed a standing political committee to engage the government, the public and the international community on matters of governance,” he said.
Maj Kachingwe recently condemned the large numbers of his party members defecting to the PF, and charged that they were depriving Zambians of a strong opposition that could maintain checks and balances on the government.
And political analysts have backed calls for the formation of a strong pact between the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) to provide checks and balances.
The experts have said a strong opposition will promote good governance and strengthen democracy in the country.
Zambian Open University head of Development Studies Thomas Mabwe said in an interview yesterday a united opposition would help keep the government in balance and propel national development.
“It is very sad that MMD members are leaving the party and defecting to the PF. What we need now is a united opposition to provide checks and balances on the government, especially that we have a very popular government in office,” Mr Mabwe said.
“A strong pact (if formed) could provide checks and balances to the party in government so that it does not make unpopular decisions or come up with wrong policies. Checks and balances are very crucial in the governance process so that the ruling party does not go out of the way,” he said.
The absence of a united opposition during the MMD’s reign, particularly over the past three years, led to increased cases of corruption and widespread abuse of public offices.
It also contributed to the flawed amendment of laws such as the removal of the abuse of office clause from the Anti-Corruption Commission Act.
Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) president Alex Ng’oma said the formation of a strong opposition could help enhance democracy and ensure the ruling party performs to the expectations of Zambians.
“For a democracy to thrive, we need a strong party in government, which we have right now. Then we need a strong opposition, which we don’t have right now because it is fragmented. A pact, theoretically, is a welcome development; it’s a step towards unifying the fragmented opposition,” Dr Ng’oma said.
He, however, called on the two political parties to widely consult the people before the final merging takes effect. He accused the leaders of the two opposition parties of trying to use the alliance to cover up their skeletons.
“A pact can work if it’s driven by people on the ground, but that’s not the case at the moment. We have RB [former President Rupiah Banda] on one hand who allegedly is looking for protection from being prosecuted for his alleged corrupt practices, and we have HH [UPND president Hakainde Hichilema], on the other hand who is believed to be power-hungry,” Dr Ng’oma said.
“If it’s [pact] grounded in the wishes and aspirations of the people, it would succeed. But if it’s based on personal reasons as we know about RB and HH, then it will crumble like others in the past.”
The Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) dismissed the pending formation of the two-party alliance as an ill-conceived and desperate development.
SACCORD executive director Lee Habasonda, said it is bad timing for the two leading opposition parties to embark on an alliance before the ruling party even settles down in office.
“It’s too early for the two parties to go into a pact because they have not shown the people of Zambia the basis for them to merge. We need to see a more principled reason, which, sadly, is not there at the moment,” Mr Habasonda, whose organisation was once de-registered under the MMD’s reign for issuing dissenting views, said.
“MMD and UPND had a perfect chance to work together before the elections … MMD has lost for neglecting a number of things Zambians wanted; they stopped taking advice, they became exclusive and civil society couldn’t be invited even for independence celebrations.”
Instead of rushing into forming a political alliance, Mr Habasonda advised the MMD and UPND members to reflect on the levels of their performance in the September 20 general elections.
“A pact must be premised on accountability, on checks and balances. The two refused to work together before elections. So, what is their motivation now after they have both been beaten by Mr Sata?” he asked.