Hailing the UPND and its leadership for holding a successful general assembly, Sean Tembo says the importance of intraparty democracy cannot be overemphasised in Zambia.
He says it is critical that officials renew their mandate from the general membership of the party.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to take this opportunity to encourage other political parties which have not yet gone for a convention to do so. Speaking for ourselves, we held our inaugural convention on 18th November 2016 and our next convention is slated for December of this year,” Tembo says.
He hopes every political party that aspires to contest this year’s general elections would first go to a convention without excuse, stressing the fact that the UPND has been able to successfully hold its convention despite the COVID-19 pandemic means that any other party can equally do so.
“The COVID-19 pandemic should not be used as an excuse by any political party for not holding a convention. Already we have seen that some political parties such as the Patriotic Front have commenced the adoption process for potential contestants in the upcoming general elections without first holding a convention,” he notes. “Such lack of intraparty democracy is detrimental to the overall development of democracy in the nation and should be frowned upon by all well-meaning Zambians.”
Tembo says it’s his understanding that PF structures that decide which party members should contest in the upcoming general elections should be elected by the general membership at a convention and not structures that have been handpicked by a single person – president Edgar Lungu – over the years.
It is said democracy is government in which power and civic responsibility are exercised by all adult citizens, directly, or through their freely elected representatives. Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule and individual rights… Fair, frequent, and well-managed elections are essential in a democracy.
Can this be said or applied to the PF of Edgar Lungu and company?
Edgar rose to PF leadership violently and since then his party seems hell-bent on rewriting or dismantling the democratic norms, values.
The much-talked about intraparty elections in PF have been tailored to suit those wielding power in the ‘expired’ central committee.
In Lusaka, for instance, the provincial elections were suspended once some unwanted candidates made some foothold! In came an appointed band of figureheads who are now preaching ‘values’ to all and sundry! They’re the choirmasters in the sole candidature anthem for Edgar, himself barred by the Republican Constitution to contest for the third time.
While the PF have been campaigning, with mass rallies since 2016, uninhibited and disregarding the COVID-19 protocols, they have failed to go to a general conference to date!
It would not be wrong, for all intents and purposes, to declare the PF is a party deficient in democracy. PF abhors democracy – democracy is an irritant to Edgar and his PF minions. Edgar is scared of free and fair elections.
How else can one describe the PF, who without holding their convention are now conducting adoptions for those vying for member of parliament, councilllor, mayoral or council chairperson positions in Western, Southern and North Western? Where’s the legitimacy? What if those guiding these adoptions are to lose at the convention – where does this place or leave the party candidates? What values and principles is Edgar’s PF preaching to the nation? Employing the principle of “the end justifies the means”? Anyway we have never known them to be honest.
And the PF is not showing any seriousness. It is as if they are stuck with Edgar. Why are they stuck like ticks to a dead carcass of Edgar who is by the Constitution barred from contesting the presidency a third time having been elected twice? Isn’t there anyone among the men and women in PF who can carry the torch? Where are the Given Lubindas, Jean Kapatas, Nkandu Luos, Davis Chamas, Stephen Kampyongos, Christopher Yalumas, Richard Musukwas who qualify to contest as president? If they are stuck, the PF can still get someone completely new to lead them in the elections. Clearly, Edgar does not qualify to contest a third time. And Edgar has completely failed to groom someone to take over from him. He has failed at leadership and must be led himself.
As the Kofi Annan Foundation notes, “Elections have become almost universal since the end of the Cold War. Yet in many countries where elections are held, freedom and democracy are actually in retreat. Intended as mechanisms for the peaceful arbitration of political rivalries, they frequently become flashpoints for political violence. At the core of these paradoxes are elections without integrity. All too often, elections serve merely to give autocratic regimes a veneer of legitimacy. But elections without integrity cannot provide the winners with legitimacy, the losers with security and the public with confidence in their leaders and institutions. This makes polities fragile as it encourages disgruntled groups to find other, less constructive, channels for the expression of their discontent.”