A SENIOR opposition UPND official says those in the party need to wake up, “otherwise, we will cry again in 2021.”
He says he has seen mannerisms of laziness among some UPND senior leaders.
Meanwhile, the official, who spoke anonymously, dismissed an assertion that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is politically timid.
He believes Hichilema is a victim of a “thieving PF lot” that has almost closed space for political plurality.
The UPND source was reacting to yesterday’s Mast lead story where a PF central committee member said unpopular as the governing party was at the moment, “we shall win next year and that will mark the end of the UPND in this country.”
The PF central committee member said while his party was battling for supremacy, the “political timidity” of Hichilema had gifted the governing party.
To counteract, the UPND official said: “for me, Moonga, I can’t fully vouch that the issues raised by your PF friends in today’s (yesterday’s) paper are binding.”
“To say HH is timid and all that, those are politics, Moonga. What people don’t know is that the UPND is bigger than one man called HH. Yes, he is our party president but the UPND as a political institution is something that is designed to outlive all of us holding positions in there,” the source said. “The UPND has been doing opposition politics for something like 22 years now. I don’t mean being in opposition for jokes but offering serious checks and balances for 22 years. How old were you (this reporter) 22 years ago?”
The source challenged anyone to name any opposition political party in Zambia “that has been as consistent as the UPND.”
“There is none! But we are not in any way happy being in the opposition. I just want you to appreciate our unswerving nature as a political party. So, the PF is spot-on by worrying about their unpopularity in relation to ours,” the source said. “Our profile as a party is better than that of PF and there is no doubt about that. The only way you can taint our resolve is to restrict our mobilisation strategies, either by using the public order Act or its sister now, the coronavirus.”
He charged that “these PF fellows have no scruples!”
“You know what I mean! How can they mock our mobilisation strategies using social media when it’s them who have closed up the space for political plurality? That [home affairs minister Stephen] Kampyongo fellow and Lungu himself are unleashing police on us each time we try to go there and meet our members,” the source complained. “Look at what has been happening with us as we try to hold intraparty elections around the country! They are stopping us [citing the] coronavirus but their officials are all over the country mobilising. Now they are using stupid psychological strategies to make us feel uncomfortable to ‘mobilise support’ using social media.”
The source explained that the PF was hell-bent on strategically pushing the UPND out of social media: “so that we can be nowhere now.”
“Dictators all over the world are very cruel [but] these are also illiterate and a thieving lot. But we shall not play in their hands,” he said.
On whether there was nothing the UPND leadership could learn from what was reported in The Mast yesterday, the source answered: “it seems you are insistent [on addressing the issue of Hichilema’s political timidity].”
“What I can only say is that we have work to do as well. A lot of work, for that matter! It’s not timidity, per se. I have told you that it’s the political space that has been closed by these fellows. [It’s] almost literally [closed]!” the source stressed. “We should thank HH that he is still reaching out to some people through social media and you guys (newspapers). When he contemplates of leaving his home, these PF fellows order police officers to start cocking guns to counter HH’s movements.”
The source asked what one could do when there was no room for them to mobilise their supporters.
“I fully agree with what Sylvia [Masebo] said in your newspaper the other day, that HH is now under house arrest. Even you, Moonga, when you are banned from doing your journalism in newspapers, at radio or TV stations and everywhere else, wouldn’t you start writing articles and post them on Facebook?” he said.
“Why then should some fellow out there mock you that ‘Moonga failed to do journalism?’ You can’t do it when there is no space at a paper, or radio and TV stations. So, that’s what is happening in the UPND in general and to HH, in particular. We are in a tight corner!”
Meanwhile, the source apportioned some guilt on fellow party officials, pointing at their lethargy.
“But all in all, to get back to your insistent question, there is work to be done by us. I have noticed traits of laziness by some senior officials in our party and true, we need to wake up. Otherwise, we will cry again in 2021,” said the source. “But it’s good that we have experienced the pain of losing in these ward by-elections. That will accelerate our waking up. We have to start functioning now, not only as NMC (National Management Committee) but all the party structures. Are you now satisfied [with my answer], Moonga?”