The reality of losing power

The reality of losing power

By George Lubasi

When a person loses a job, their fortunes can quickly plummet. Those that used to hang around you suddenly disappear because when they see you, they do not see a person, they see numerous requests for help. Your phone calls to friends and relatives become the most dreaded. Everyone becomes too busy to attend to you.

The same happens to political parties.

The MMD must surely be feeling that the world around them is collapsing.  Just a few days after losing a crucial general election, members have started leaving, joining the PF, the very party they so vehemently opposed to a point of paranoia. The resignations are both questionable and understandable. Questionable in the sense that even before the party takes stock of their shocking defeat, and even before its members concretely understand the direction of the PF government, they have started leaving. MMD National Secretary Richard Kachingwe is could be justified in branding those leaving as chickenhearted and opportunistic. Perhaps he should have added short-sighted. But, having spent 20 years commanding the instruments of power, it is understandable that MMD members cannot imagine beginning to be subject to the very instruments they once commanded with so much pomp and pride. To imagine five years out of power (at least in the short term) seems unfathomable for some. They see joining the party in power as the way out.

However, those joining the PF must be honest on why they are doing so. They should not try to hoodwink the people that overnight that they have discovered that the PF and its leader is the best thing that ever happened to Zambia. All of the sudden they have found all the accolades to shower on a man they once denigrated with passion. They should just be honest and admit that they are looking for a party that enjoys the accessories and excesses of power. They should just admit that they have found life without political power difficult. It is understandable that this is the first time they are losing power. But such addiction to power is dangerous. They should heed the advice from their leaders that losing an election is not the end of the world.

Before the 1997 general election, the Labour Party was in opposition for 17 years as Conservatives dominated. But the British had had enough of the Tories and the rebranded Labour Party took advantage of the failings of the Conservatives to rally a disenchanted British public towards change. The result was a crashing defeat for the Tories, and Labour, led by Tony Blair, was back in the driving seat.

In 2010, the Democratic Party in Japan lost power after 50 years in government. Painful as it may be, the DP has not crossed over to the other side of the political divide. They have remained where power left them and they are moving on. Some of the former leaders are even in court answering for their sins while in power. However, given the frequent change of governments in Japan, it may not be long before DP return to power again.

In Ghana, the National Democratic Congress lost power in 1992. But they returned in 2008.

After their defeat in 1991, UNIP for some reason believed they could return to power. Although the party was later rocked by leadership problems, they did not lose sight of their role in opposition. Believing UNIP could make a comeback, Kaunda came out of retirement to help the prop up the fortunes of the party. The rest, of course, is history.  Interestingly, though, UNIP members, who were for 27 years overly intoxicated with the one-party mentality and the wamuyaya syndrome, did not behave the way some MMD members are behaving today. One would expect that, having fought to get into power, they would understand that democracy entails another party can also have its day in power.

Apart from losing members, the MMD, for the first time in their history, are faced with a loss of property through bailiffs’ action. This is unprecedented! But the behaviour of NAPSA also brings into question the professionalism (or the lack of it) in parastatal bodies. If parastatals like NAPSA and all others were professionally run, NAPSA would never have had to wait for the MMD to lose power for them to collect rentals. But suddenly, NAPSA have found the authoritative voice of a cheeky landlord, and the MMD are on the receiving (or surrendering) end. It must be rightly assumed here that the MMD are obviously not the only debtors that NAPSA have. But why their debt has been so loudly and widely publicised needs no further disquisition. It’s all part of the reality of losing power.

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