On September 20 Zambian voters elected the PF to government. The PF must now get down to the business of governing. Much as the PF won the election, the voters, whether by design or default, did not give the PF a blank cheque to do as they wish. Having won the election with 43% of the vote, it effectively means 57% of voters voted against the PF. That is the reality of democracy that the PF must live with. What this means, therefore, is that those that did not form government have an obligation to scrutinise the actions of those in power as part of their broader responsibility of offering checks and balances. That is the most normal thing under the current political dispensation.
Following recent reports that the MMD and UPND are working on a parliamentary pact, the PF has gone into overdrive. They have been trying to portray the proposed pact as an unholy alliance that is out to frustrate the new government. That myth must be dismissed with the contempt it duly deserves. Pacts are nothing new in politics. They have their time and place. In fact, if the Zambian Constitution provided for a majority government or a coalition government, any two of the top three achievers would have agreed to form a coalition government.
It is instructive to note that since World War Two, Germany has been run on pacts as no one party has had the outright majority to singularly form a parliamentary majority capable of running government. So there have been varying versions and combinations of pacts between and among Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, the Greens, the Federal Democrats, etc. The recent case in the United Kingdom is an interesting one. Ideologically, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are worlds apart, but because of the need for numbers, they had to come together under some compromise to offer leadership to the country. If the UK case were in Zambia, what the PF is telling us Zambians is that they would allow the country to be without a government simply because they do not agree with the other party.
The PF should not be a cry baby and start finding excuses even before they deliver their legendary 90-day development promise. What the opposition do now and how they try to organise themselves is not the sole determinant of how PF will implement their policies. For now the PF must accept that the honeymoon is over too soon; they should not expect the opposition to treat them with kid gloves. The opposition have a duty to keep the new government in check to protect Zambians from excesses of a government that may still be intoxicated with electoral victory. The PF need not be reminded, for instance, that their combined vote with UPND (though not in a pact) helped defeat the NCC draft constitution which most Zambians had condemned as defective. If it was good then for them to provide checks and balances, what makes it sinister for the MMD and UPND to jointly do so now?
The PF may have queries with the calibre of the candidate the MMD/UPND pact may want to float as Speaker of the National Assembly. But they cannot question the right of the two parties to float a candidate of their choice. What the PF must also know is that there are no permanent positions in politics. There will always be room for compromise and concession. The fact that the UPND criticised the MMD in government does not mean that the two cannot collaborate under the new political environment that they now find themselves in.
The PF must concentrate on governing, and not try to create an impression that they are about to be frustrated by the MMD and UPND. On the other hand, it would also be irresponsible of the two main opposition parties to join hands just to make life difficult for the party in government. There is much more to governance than trying to play popularity games.
In conclusion, the MMD and UPND have every right to individually and jointly chart their destiny in and outside parliament, and they need not be apologetic about that.