To start with, I wish to congratulate the Tonse Alliance (an alliance of nine opposition parties) in Malawi on fighting together and delivering a resounding victory against the ruling party.
The battle was not easy but their tenacity and desire to rise above partisan politics to serve the people of Malawi deserves commendation. I have taken time to digest what had happened in Malawi. The opposition parties, nine of them buried their political differences and decided to fill in one candidate against the ruling party’s candidate, Professor Peter Mutharika. What I see in their action is the desire to serve the people of Malawi more than their personal interests. I also see the level of magnanimity and sincerity among the opposition leaders under the Tonse Alliance; each member did not overrate themselves but accepted the roles and positions in the alliance according to the sizes of their political parties.
In this regard, smaller parties in the alliance such as Umodzi Party, which has no member of parliament (MPs), did not want to lead the alliance but accepted to be led. They allowed Dr Lazarus Chakwera who had 55 MPs and Dr Saulos Chilima with four MPs to be the president and running mate for the Alliance respectively. This is what has made them victors. They are now walking in the corridors of power. If they had allowed pride and their small egos to control them, today, they would still have been in the opposition.
In Zambia today, we have an alliance for opposition parties. Current members are Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD), National Democratic Congress (NDC), United Party for National Development (UPND), and Republican Progressive Party (RPP). Some other parties have either left or kicked out of the alliance. Social and political commentators especially PF sympathisers have predicted that the alliance will not hold until 2021, citing selfish interest among the leaders.
In the recent past, NDC leader, Chishimba Kambwili (CK) has been reported in the media calling upon other opposition parties to join the alliance. I wish to commend CK for urging other opposition parties to join the alliance. In my opinion, this is the surest way to sink the boat, the Patriotic Front (PF) and government in 2021. Those in the PF and government do not sleep over the opposition alliance. PF knows that the combination of Hakainde Hichilema (HH) and CK will crush them in 2021 as they were crushed in the Roan parliamentary by-election.
In this regard, they have been doing everything to frustrate the alliance by inciting some members to leave and threatening CK with court convictions. Surely, if the alliance will hold and members decide to fill in one candidate, it will deliver a resounding win similar to the one witnessed in Malawi. It will amass more than 57 per cent of the vote, thereby saving the country from conducting a costly rerun.
I wish, therefore, to encourage other opposition parties to emulate their colleagues in Malawi and join the ADD, UPND, NDC and RPP alliance. Further, I wish also to urge the members of the current opposition alliance and their leaders to be magnanimous and fair to each other. They should know their size in items of membership and MPs. This will make it easy for them to choose the presidential candidate and running mate. There is no way a party without an MP can wish to be the presidential candidate of the alliance or to be the running mate. It is my considered view that the opposition alliance should allow HH to be its presidential candidate and CK as his running mate in the 2021 election. This will be a deadly combination and will easily wreck the boat.
Why do I think HH should lead the alliance? This is because he has more support than any other opposition leader in the country. In 2016, he fraudulently lost to President Edgar Lungu by a small margin, by 2.72 per cent. CK as a running mate will bring some energy and more votes from the Copperbelt and other provinces in the northern part of Zambia. PF knows that CK knows how to campaign and they will miss him in 2021. I wish to urge CK not to even think of going back to PF because they will just use him. He will not be valued in the manner the alliance values him. And in the PF CK stands no chance of becoming the next Republican president.
Further, I wish to urge members of the alliance to agree how they will share parliamentary seats. My proposal to the alliance members on this issue is that any political party that is popular in any given constituency should be allowed to fill in a candidate. For instance, in Roan Constituency, the alliance should allow NDC to fill a candidate because it is still popular there. In Chililabombwe constituency, the UPND may be popular than other members of the alliance, therefore, it should be allowed to fill in a candidate. In this way, the alliance will prosper and Zambia will prosper.
As I conclude, I wish to commend CK for calling all opposition parties to join hands. I believe that the opposition alliance can work and is the surest way to dislodge the PF from power in 2021. Many Zambians including the writer of this article are banking on the alliance to deliver the much needed change. Further, if this alliance succeeds, it will also dismantle the tribal bridges that the PF government has been building between our people in Southern and Northern provinces of Zambia; it will crucify tribalism. I therefore wish to urge HH, CK, Milupi, Lukuku and other opposition leaders not to disappoint many Zambians who are waiting to be saved from PF’s corruption and mismanagement of the affairs of the country. May God help you put Zambians’ interests above your personal interests. Learn from your counterparts in Malawi.
The author is a lecturer at the University of Zambia, department of Library and Information Science. Send comments to: email@example.com/EC