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This isn’t time for UPND to front fear – Chinsembu

PROFESSOR Kazhila Chinsembu says for the opposition UPND to emerge as a new and strongest centre of political power, the party will need the help of new power brokers.

He also notes that now that the PF boat is swimming against the current, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should put his best foot forward, “and all well-meaning Zambians should start hand-holding.”

Prof Chinsembu used to be an advisor to UPND founding president Anderson Mazoka.

He is also a former publicity secretary of the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU), and the author of the book titled ‘Green Medicines.’

In a statement sent to The Mast, Prof Chinsembu said the looming fear of losing power among those in the PF would make them more and more ruthless.

He said such would further shrink the democratic space and enjoyment of individual freedoms, especially freedom of association and movement, given the current milieu of COVID-19 health restrictions.

“For the UPND to emerge as the new and strongest centre of political power, the party will need the help of new power brokers,” Prof Chinsembu said.

He said he was adding his voice to the ubiquitous topic of the just-ended ward bye-elections in Western and North-Western provinces, where the PF had an edge over the UPND.

He prefaced his explanation by saying that the quest for power, whether it is political, civic, corporate or chieftaincy, was neither a game of chance nor a straight-line graph.

Prof Chinsembu noted that the quest for power was always a relentless effort of triumph and defeat, conquest and counter-conquest.

“So, the quest for power to save Zambia shall not be a sprint; it shall be a long-winded and exhausting marathon. Sadly, the balance will remain tilted in favour of the old pole, with the ruling party in the strongest, albeit in a less dominant and less likeable position,” he said.

“But, now is not the time to blame and scapegoat Hakainde Hichilema, because now is the time for the UPND to put its best foot forward.”

Prof Chinsembu anticipates that in the coming months, the political lobbying and negotiations that shall ensue would be a high-stakes game and that political dwarfs would fall by the wayside.

“In the coming months, our country shall be similar to a pressure-cooker as political tensions and fractures will multiply, alliances will shift, loyalty will be put to the test, new coalitions will be built, and framings will increase,” Prof Chinsembu said. “Even chiefs shall become cunning; they will throw their hats in the political ring, uploading their most susceptible rank and file to the strongest power broker.”

He added that in the next 12 months, “this is the microcosm of the larger political atmosphere that awaits the UPND.”

“This is not the time for UPND leaders to front fear. The UPND should know that relinquishing power, forcing the political opponent to the brink, making them to back down, will require sophistication, concessions and smart brinkmanship,” Prof Chinsembu advised.

“Behind the scenes, leaders of the UPND should not just be on the campaign trail in rural and urban areas; they should by now be involved in hard bargaining, using soft power to win the hearts and minds of important power brokers.”

He said in Zambia, changing the levers of political power was complex and demanding.

Prof Chinsembu said it was a daunting reality, as much as it was a beautiful prospect.

“But, now that the ruling party boat is swimming against the current, Hakainde Hichilema should put his best foot forward, and all well-meaning Zambians should start hand-holding,” Prof Chinsembu said. “Yes, the secretariat of the UPND should provide well-oiled administrative coordination. However, as much as HH and the UPND are equal to the task, the people’s activism shall ultimately provide the synergy and energy for our country’s turning-point.”

He said seldom have turning-points of societies been left to naturally evolve out of administrative and political structures, especially when such structures were bequeathed by a desperate ruling elite.

Prof Chinsembu said unmistakably so, genuine democratic power-shifts reflected the sincerity, honest and cleanliness of political structures and arenas.

“They reflect the maturity of societies that desire correct governance and institutions, people that cherish a cleaner and leaner government,” Prof Chinsembu said. “My informed recommendation is to step-up voter education and strategic campaigning. And this is where the lacuna could be filled by grassroots organisations. Whether you call them civil society organisations, NGOs, trade unions, lobby groups or human rights activists, the Church, academia, whatever, should join hands to reach out to the people.”

He tipped the UPND to summon all the tools of citizen journalism and mass mobilisation if the party was to thwart campaigns of the bourgeoisie scholars and pseudo-intellectuals in the ruling elite.

“Conscientization of the poor masses who constitute the majority of rural voters is cardinal in the run-up to elections,” he said. “Still, as long as Zambians continue to satisfy the needs of the present at the expense of the future, then Zambia is doomed to remain the problem-child in the eyes of the international money lending and aid organisations.”

Prof Chinsembu noted that Zambians should be told that economic reforms taking place in Zambia would only yield effective results when there was effective leadership.

He said without decent moral and managerial leadership, “the base of our sectoral reforms will split, the centre will not hold, and things shall fall apart in incoherence.”

“This is the stark reality and grim future facing our country, Zambia. History teaches us that at the heart of undemocratic systems of governance lie the selfishness, greed and corruption of individuals,” he said. “For Zambia, this history will not just be learnt, it will also have to be lived.”

Meanwhile, Prof Chinsembu said Zambia was now at a critical juncture, at a point of no return.

“It is up to the people to vote wisely, to rescue their collective future from the current crisis of leadership,” said Prof Chinsembu. “All over the world, people are unforgiving of corruption. All over the world, progressives are using the power of the vote to retire those leaders veteran politician Fwanyanga Mulikita termed ‘kleptomaniacs beyond redemption’.”

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