What is Ngandu Magande upto?

Former finance minister Ngandu Magande has not shelved his plans to stand for president. And why should he? His first and last attempt to run for president was two years ago when he challenged Rupiah Banda (RB) following the passing on of president Levy Mwanawasa. He argued in his campaigns that he was the chosen successors and claimed that most of the economic achievements by the ‘New Deal’ were because of him, as finance minister. He has not withdrawn any of the statements and he has never recanted his declaration to be president of Zambia.
When he was kicked out of the MMD a few weeks ago, he showed neither remorse nor regret but explained that the next stage of management from being a minister was the Republican presidency.
This somehow reminds one of Michael Sata’s vow in 2001, when Fredrick Chiluba side-stepped him to go and wake up Mwanawasa as successor.
Sata, as MMD national secretary (Chief executive), had expelled most credible leaders from the MMD hoping he would lead the party when the time to replace Chiluba comes.
But Chiluba, after his third term bid was rejected, had other names in mind for succession. Sata left the MMD to from his Patriotic Front.
His words were something like, ‘I have been driven by rough drivers Kaunda and Chiluba. Now it is time to be my own driver.’ This was a declaration that he would settle for nothing less than the presidency. He is still fighting in keeping with this vow.
Magande is currently consulting not on whether he should stand as president in 2011, but on how best he should.
And this is causing some discomfort in the existing political parties and other forces.
George Mpombo, has been quoted advising Magande not to form a political party saying that ‘will defeat the unity of purpose among Zambians who believe that President Rupiah Banda has provided mediocre leadership”.
Now that should be interesting. Who is speaking through Mpombo? Mpombo himself is a loud but empty drum which echoes when someone beats it.
The question is who is trying to persuade Magande from creating what he calls the ‘Third Force’? The answer is easy to find but will leave the reader to make the conclusion.
In his consultations to the PF-UPND, Magande has been representing that he wants to form a third force which he will later enjoin to the PF-UPND pact, before 2011.
But that is where he betrays his true intentions. If he wanted to join the pact, why form another entity?
The answer should be that he wants bargaining power. Let’s assume he joins the pact, or his third force joins the pact, what would be his role? He has already declined to continue as MP or minister. Will he, under the pact, agree to be minister?
No. He wants the presidency, either under the pact or his third force.
One political party that is likely to suffer casualties when Magande announces the formation of his movement is the UPND.
It is true that Magande will carry along a huge number of MMD cadres and some senior party officials. But the UPND is likely to suffer irreparable damage. The PF may not feel the impact, at least not direct.
Unless you are a fool, then you will know that parties in Zambia now draw heavy membership from the tribe of the party leader.
That is why the MMD now only wins elections in Eastern province where RB comes from. In fact the MMD has more MPs in Eastern province than anywhere else or any other political party. The PF will continue its dominance in the northern parts of the country while the UPND holds sway in the south. The answer to winning national elections depends on how much a political party can influence the cosmopolitan regions to add on to its tribal votes.
Magande is a Southerner and he will have to fish in the UPND’s pond. From the feelers on the ground, we understand UPND members are eager to move. They are asking when the party will be formed.
The move to Magande’s party by UPND members will be driven mainly by what cadres see us betrayal by their leader Hakainde Hichilema.,
UPND MPs, without exception, are against Hichilema deputizing Sata in the pact.
Even people like Douglas Syakalima who have contacts with the PF are not for the idea. Yet, they would rather cheat the PF that ‘we are trying to convince Hichilema to agree to be vice president.’ But from insiders, we are told these are the people telling Hichilema that the UPND was created to produce a president not a vice president.
UPND members know Magande and to them he is one of them as he is a founder member of the party. They were upset that he betrayed Anderson Mazoka and took all UPND ideas to Mwanawasa.
Moving to his party will therefore be like just changing shirts on the same body.
The statement by Hichilema last week that his party members are cheating him will also cost him a lot. To members, that confirms that he has agreed to hide in Sata’s wings.
What Magande’s party will do therefore is transform the UPND under a new name and leader, Ngandu Magande.
Hichilema risks becoming irrelevant. He might decide to go to Sata with a shell of UPND. He will take a name but members will have gone to Magande. And that is how the PF will be affected by Magande’s party. The PF, though they don’t admit publicly often, know that on their known, they can’t win 2011 or 2016. They are banking on UPND and particularly Hichilema. They feel that once Hichilema agrees to serve under Sata, then they win attract voters from Southern, Western, Northwestern and central provinces.
So the late-comer Magande is really a headache to the PF. Hichilema has been sorted out through intimidation mostly by negative publicity in the Post newspaper. He can hardly talk about his desire to stand as president. Wynter Kabimba, the man who has been assigned to spear head the intimidation and negative publicity is doing fine. Kabimba is also a nephew of Sata. He has been following his uncle where ever he goes. When Sata was minister of local government, Kabimba was town clerk for Lusaka.
Magande also has the support of donors and the Mwanawasa family.
Even Jonas Shakafuswa who has been towing the idea of joining the PF officially has now backtracked, we understand.
Magande has refused to serve under Rupiah Banda; will he agree to serve under Sata? We shall wait and see.

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