Political parties are essential to the development and sustenance of our pluralistic democracy. They are crucial instruments in ensuring participation in political life and the expression of the will of our people, which should form the basis of the authority of our government. The legal framework for protecting the rights of our political parties should be based mainly on the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peacefully.
And these three principles were stipulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and have subsequently been transformed into binding legal obligations through a number of international and regional human rights instruments. Most notably, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include a provision containing the rights and freedoms that safeguard the free functioning of political parties.
Another important component of these rights is the freedom of individual candidates who have no political party association to seek and obtain political or public office without facing any form of undue obstacles or discrimination.
The possibility for individuals to challenge established political parties through new political initiatives is an important part of any dynamic multiparty system.
Any regulation of parties should aim at facilitating the proper establishment, development and functioning of political parties.
Internal democracy in political parties, also known as intraparty democracy, refers to the level and methods of including party members in the decision making and deliberation within the party structure.
In a truly multiparty democratic environment intraparty democracy will take many different forms. It shouldn’t be something imposed in a uniform and straitjacket manner. Political parties will choose their leaders in different ways – some by show of hands as the Patriotic Front was made to ‘choose’ Edgar Lungu in 2014. How long a party keeps its leaders shouldn’t be a matter dictated by law. We know that the Patriotic Front is obsessed with Hakainde Hichilema having been at the helm of UPND for a long time. But that shouldn’t be something they should try to deal with by enacting laws. Let us allow our political parties to regulate themselves and practice intraparty democracy in the way they deem fit.
And as All People’s Congress leader Nason Msoni says, the Patriotic Front is the most intolerant and undemocratic party that must not be allowed to tutor intraparty democracy to the opposition.
Why type of intraparty democracy can the Patriotic Front government be expected to bring to this country?
How can Stephen Kampyongo, such an intolerant and cruel character, be the one to announce the government’s intention to introduce a bill on intraparty democracy?
Kampyongo has never championed democracy; he is a well-known merchant of intolerance, repression and brutality.
And what intraparty democracy can the Patriotic Front talk about with all the undemocratic decisions and actions within it?