DEMOCRATIC Party president Harry Kalaba says 2021 is not far and that his party does not want to have divided attention by participating in parliamentary by-elections.
Kalaba says the Democratic Party (DP) would rather stay away from both Roan and Bahati parliamentary by-elections that are scheduled for April 11.
“We would put ourselves on the chopping board when the right time comes,” Kalaba said in an interview on Sunday.
He charged that the DP was “breaking strongholds” with its approach to Zambian politics.
“We are breaking strongholds! We are breaking the thought that when you become a politician, you need to get rich. We are breaking the thinking that you have to have served in the opposition for 20 years for you to be a President. We are basically breaking the old, tired mentality of thinking that things are done in the traditional way,” Kalaba explained.
“Even the issue of by-elections, people think for you to be something you need to participate in by-elections so that you prepare yourself for [general] elections. Those are strongholds we are breaking! We are bringing in a new type of politics in this country – it’s politics that has never been seen before. That’s why it looks awkward that there are by-elections that will be happening and the Democratic Party is not participating because we’ve got our own methods of running an election.”
He stressed that the DP had to devise its own method of getting at politics and “ensure that we win the elections in 2021.”
“We are not going to walk in the traditional way of doing politics like they have done before and expect to defeat those who are masters at the same game that they have been playing,” Kalaba said.
“So, we are breaking the traditional thought pattern of saying for you to be president, you need to have been in the opposition for five, 10 years.”
Asked why he could not tie his confidence of winning the Republican presidency in 2021 to how the DP could perform in a parliamentary by-election, Kalaba answered: “The party is performing very well in the constituencies.”
“I don’t need to participate in a by-election for me to know that I have support in Luanshya. It is not the ECZ (Electoral Commission of Zambia), using by-elections, that can be the barometer [for my political popularity,]” Kalaba said.
“It’s a misconception [because] there are elections which the ruling party has won which they should never have won. But they just used the arrogance of incumbency to get those election victories. That doesn’t mean they are popular! It is not a by-election that determines how strong you are. [But] it is how well you have done your grassroots politics and that’s what I and team are doing.”
He added that the DP was busy putting up its structures together.
“2021 is not far and we don’t want to have divided attention. We are going to field candidates in 2021 in all the 156 constituencies and we are going to win the elections. That is what our objective is. So, anything that is coming, people telling us that we have to use this litmus test to test our popularity will not work with us,” Kalaba explained.
“We have got our own ways of testing our popularity and I want to believe that it’s a very effective system. The Zambian people should give us time and see whether our system is inept or not. But I’m sure that when all is said and done, they will agree with me and my team that this system we have devised has never been done before in this country.”
Meanwhile, when asked if he could tip voters in Roan and Bahati constituencies on who to vote for next month, Kalaba responded negatively.
“No! No! No! That is not what we do as Democratic Party. We are not going to get involved into saying vote for that one. For the Democratic Party to give credence to anybody, we must be sure that that person we are giving credence to is very formidable,” Kalaba said, adding that even if a DP candidate won in Roan or Bahati, such victory could be academic.
“We’ve played enough politics in this country of saying vote for that one. We would rather stay away from both Roan and Bahati at the moment. We would put ourselves on the chopping board when the right time comes. The Democratic Party doesn’t want academic politics. So, we’ll not participate in these by-elections; we need to focus.”
Earlier in the day, Kalaba went to pray at St Monica Catholic Church in Lukanga residential area of Kabwe.
He later went to Christian Care Church before going to Kakumbi area to address DP supporters.
He told the sizeable gathering of supporters that there was “a spirit of depression” in Kabwe town because of joblessness.
“You need to vote for the DP in 2021 so that we can create job opportunities for you,” assured Kalaba.