SOCIALIST Party leader Fred M’membe says there will be many more billboards attacking both the UPND and the PF.
Featuring on Hot FM’s Beyond the Headlines programme on Wednesday, Dr M’membe said his party will take on anyone, regardless of whether they are in government or not.
Asked by presenter Kwangu Liwewe why he was attacking a fellow opposition party, Dr M’membe said there was nothing wrong since they were all competing for votes.
Below is a selected verbatim transcript of the interview:
Kwangu: Okay. So, last week on Beyond the Headlines we featured the president of UPND, Hakainde Hichilema. And he spoke extensively about the Socialist Party. He called your party a small party. How do you react to this?
Dr M’membe (laughs): It provokes homeric laughter. What is a small party? What is a big party? How do you define what is a big party? How do you define what is a small party? How? By longevity in terms of existence? By the size of membership? I don’t know what he meant by a small party, what did he mean by a small party? May be help me.
Kwangu: Well, I guess the two points you’ve just mentioned: the existence, how long it’s been in existence, and the numbers and the experience. I am just assuming that’s what he meant.
Dr M’membe: The longevity, if we judge a party by longevity, we’ll get it wrong. UNIP was formed in 1959, in 1962 it won the elections ahead of the African National Congress and the Federal Party; within a short period. MMD won the elections in 1991, nine months after being formed. UPND itself put up a marvellous performance in 2001; it was formed in 1998. It nearly defeated the MMD in 2001 elections. PF which is ruling today was formed in 2001, three months before the 2001 elections; it is now ruling. UPND which was formed in 1998 is still in opposition. UNIP is still around, MMD is still around; they have been formed a long time; they’re old parties. Are they big or they’re small on the basis of numbers of years they’ve been around? Are they bigger than UPND because they have existed for a long time? The answer is a categorical no. So, we are neither small…
Kwangu: And in numbers in terms of membership?
Dr M’membe: We have a big membership that cuts across the whole country. That’s why we went and tried to field candidates in all the constituencies of the country. And we are competing in these elections on an equal footing with everybody else. The result will show. UPND itself has been defeated by parties that have been formed before it. If longevity was the measure, UPND would be in government today, not PF. How many times has UPND lost to PF, a newer party? They lost in 2006 to PF; they came number three. PF came number two. They lost to PF in 2008; PF came number two, UPND came number three. They lost to PF in 2011, PF came number one, MMD came number two, they came number three. The only time they came number two was in 2015 and 2016 because after the MMD lost power, the MMD more or less disintegrated. A good part of MMD went to PF and another part went to UPND, so we had two parties contesting. If you have two parties definitely you will have one and two. That’s when UPND came to number two. Before that it was number three, number three, number three, number three. This year we’ll not have two parties, we’ll have at least three parties contesting in a stronger way. At least three, if not more. So, the chances are there for everybody.
Kwangu: He made a very strong allegation that the Socialist Party is, to use his words, a surrogate of the Patriotic Front.
Dr M’membe: (laughs). Another homeric laughter. PF and UPND are Siamese twins feeding from the same umbilical cord. The president of PF today, Mr Edgar Lungu, the vice-president of PF today, Mrs Inonge Wina, where did they come from? They came from UPND. Mr Lungu was a member of UPND. Mrs Wina was a member of parliament for Nalolo under UPND. The vice-president, the former vice-president of UPND Mr Richard Kapita for many years who served under Mr Hakainde for many years as vice-president who was his trusted man, where is he today? He’s in PF. He was provincial minister in PF. Dr Canicius Banda who was vice-president of UPND, where is he today? My relative GBM (Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba) who was vice-president of UPND and running mate in 2016 for Mr Hakainde, where is he today? He’s in PF. And where did he come from before he joined UPND? He came from PF. He was minister of defence in PF. He was a key leader in PF. But today he’s back in PF. He’s the deputy national mobilisation leader for PF. They (UPND) are in an alliance with Mr [Felix] Mutati and Mr Kelvin Fube Bwalya or Bwalya Fube, where did those two come from? Mr Mutati was minister of finance under PF, not very long ago. Fube was seeking to become president of PF, presidential candidate until they expelled him and he failed to get what he wanted. They’re coming from PF. Do you see why I’m saying they’re Siamese twins? Do you see why I’m saying they’re feeding from the same umbilical cord? And it doesn’t end there, let’s look at their manifestos. I’ve got a Master’s Degree in Economic Policy Management. Part of that training is to analyse economic policies. So I’ve the expertise that is needed to analyse the manifestos of UPND and PF. They’re the same. There’s no difference. That’s why it’s so easy for key leaders of PF and key leaders of UPND to crisscross. Today they’re in UPND, tomorrow they’re in PF. Today they’re in PF, tomorrow they’re in UPND. It’s not possible with us. There is no key leader of UPND who is in SP today. There’s no key leader coming from PF who is in SP today. None, because we are different! When you look at these parties, PF and UPND they’re the same. That’s why people are just moving; today they’re this, tomorrow they’re that. The policies are the same, the programmes are the same; it’s just the personalities and the ambitions that they have.
Kwangu: Mr president, for lack of a better term, but you are starting them. That big billboard that says five losses too much, what’s that all about?
Dr M’membe: (Chuckles).
Kwangu: Isn’t that starting somebody?
Dr M’membe: Is five losses a small thing? Five losses, consecutive losses! Not intermittent but consecutive, is it a small thing? A party to lose elections five times consecutively, it’s a small thing that should be ignored?
Kwangu: But you’re clearly taking a swipe at UPND.
Dr M’membe: It’s not a swipe, it’s a reality. Is it a lie? Is it a lie?
Kwangu: But why base a campaign message on a fellow opposition party and not target the economy, you know…?
Dr M’membe: There’s no fellow opposition, we’re not in an alliance with UPND. We’re not in an alliance with any political party. We are competing in these elections with everybody who has put themselves on the ballot paper. We are not in an alliance. They are in an alliance with Mr Mutati’s MDC. They’re in an alliance with a faction of NAREP, they’re in an alliance with a faction of NDC, they’re in an alliance with Mr Milupi’s ADD. They’re not in an alliance with us. We’re competing with them. Do they understand what multiparty politics is? A multiparty political dispensation just means that. When we put our names on the ballot papers, we are competing with everybody else. We’re not just competing with those in government, no!
Kwangu: But is there no love lost between you and Hakainde Hichilema?
Dr M’membe: It’s not about love, it’s about multiparty politics.
Kwangu: What about the rest of the other parties?
Dr M’membe: We’re competing with them…
Kwangu: But you’re not putting billboards about the MMD or anyone else.
Dr M’membe: Do you know of anyone else that has lost elections consecutively for five years? Tell me. Tell me if any of the key players have lost elections for five years consecutively, five times consecutively. Did PF lose elections five times? Did MMD lose elections five times? Did NDC lose elections five times consecutively? It’s not a small factor that they should ignore. Yes, it may not be favourable message for them. We’re competing with them in these elections, we’re competing with PF in these elections. There are still more billboards coming, anyway. We haven’t finished.
Kwangu (chuckles): I look forward to what you’ve said there, Mr president.
Dr M’membe: Yes, you’ll see some going for PF, you’ll see some still going for UPND. We’re competing with them. Some will attack policies of UPND, some will attack policies of PF. We’re competing with them.
Dr M’membe: In a multiparty dispensation, being in a different party does not mean hatred for other people. They’re stuck to the one-party mentality – it’s either you are with us or you are our enemies. No, we’re not enemies. We simply hold different positions; we simply hold different policies. It’s not hatred. What is the value of hating Hakainde? For what? Why should I hate him? For what? So, to love Hakainde I should join his pact? To love Mr Lungu I should join PF? If I’m not in the UPND Alliance, then I’m with PF? If I’m not in the PF alliance, then I’m with UPND? We are an independent political party with our manifesto clearly different from that of UPND and PF that are similar. There’s no hatred. If being in a different political party from the other and opposing the policies of another political party means hatred, then let’s move away from multiparty political dispensation. And it’s not about personal relationships. I don’t need to have a personal relationship with Mr Lungu, I don’t need to have a personal relationship with Mr Hakainde to participate in the politics of this country. They’ve got their friends. Mr Hakainde has got his friends. Mr Lungu has got his friends. I have got my friends.
Kwangu: Okay, so, clearly, the two you’ve just mentioned, do you have a relationship with them?
Dr M’membe: I don’t.
Kwnagu: You don’t?
Dr M’membe: I don’t. Actually, if it’s knowing more, I’ve known more of Mr Lungu than Mr Hakainde. I don’t know Mr Hakainde. I was not at school with him. I was not at the university with him. At least Mr Lungu we were at UNZA at the same time. We finished secondary school at the same time. We interacted here and there. But can I say Mr Lungu is my friend today? No, he has stated clearly who are his friends – those who drink with him. He has made it very clear what constitutes his friends. I don’t drink with him.
Kwangu: Okay, that’s very interesting. Okay, let’s move on now. You’ve clearly stated that you’re not just there to just dislodge the ruling party, but it is a competition between all the parties that are contesting in the polls?
Dr M’membe: We’re actually on one side alone. The rest are on the other side, all of them. They are capitalist parties all of them. Their ideologies are the same, their policies are similar. They may have small differences here and there but the basic thrust of their policies is the same.
Kwangu: So, you’ll never consider any alliance with them because clearly your ideologies are different?
Dr M’membe: Alliance over what? Alliance over what? There’re many alliances that are formed in life. You can form an alliance with other people to fight the public order Act. You can form an alliance with other people to fight for this or that. The alliances you’re talking about they’re happenstance alliances to win an election. Those are the alliances that they’re forming. We’re not looking for happenstance alliances. We’re looking for strategic alliances. We have allies also, strategic allies. I’ll give you a strategic ally we have. We have the Catholic Church as a strategic ally.
Dr M’membe: We never sat with the Catholic leadership and say we are allies, let’s sign, no! Strategic alliances are not created that way. Happenstance alliances are created that way. We have a strategic alliance because of the social teachings of the Catholic Church. If you read our manifesto, you’ll find that it coincides a lot with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. So, in that sense we are seeking the same things. What we are seeking are the same things Christ was seeking. Christ was against degradation of human beings. That’s what we are fighting. We socialists. Christ was against humiliation of human beings. Christ was against the hunger of a human being. Christ was against the illness of a human being. He never watched these things, He never took them as a given; die you will go to heaven, my Father will receive you there while I’m still here, no! Christ treated the ill, Christ fed the hungry, Christ dealt with the afflicted in all sorts of ways. Christ came here for the poor…
And a week ago when he featured on the same programme, Hichilema accused Dr M’membe of hating him for unknown reasons.
Below is a selected verbatim transcript of the recording:
Kwangu: I’ve got to squeeze this one in. So, earlier in my introduction I talked about a two-horse race. But some pundits are saying there’s a third force to watch, and that’s the Socialist Party. So, we have seen their billboard in red saying, they’re apparently taking a swipe at the UPND. They’re saying five losses too much. How do you respond to this?
Hichilema: Kwangu, I looked at that, I watched the comments from people; my decision was, ignore this. Why ignore it? A couple of things, very briefly: when you see an opposition party attacking a fellow opposition party, a genuine opposition party, you’ll only know two things. One, that opposition party does not understand politics, especially the Zambian politics. Two, that opposition party are actually part of the ruling party. They’re a surrogate of the ruling party – two things. And the two things in this particular case apply. Why will you attack the UPND and HH? Why? Our job is to provide checks and balances, to offer citizens an alternative which we have done through our manifesto. A very very good manifesto, Kwangu. Remember we talked about it?
Hichilema: National manifesto, regional competitive advantage, what we’ll do in each province. It’s there. We fought against Bill 10 which was going to create Zambia into a one-party State, where was the Socialist Party? Where were they? What contributions did they make? We served the people of Zambia as genuinely so; tools of the people of Zambia. What would motivate the Socialist Party to attack UPND, to attack HH? Only two reasons. One, they’re inexperienced, they don’t understand the Zambian politics. Two, they’re surrogates of PF. What do I mean by surrogates? They pretend to be opposition, but they’re actually part of PF. They’re part of PF because that’s the only time you try and help the PF, so what they’ll do is help the ruling party. I won’t say the third issue.
Kwangu: We’re curious to know it, now that you’ve mentioned there’s a third issue.
Hichilema: Just colossal hatred. Colossal hatred that comes way back.
Kwangu: Mmm. It’s a personal hatred between you and Fred M’membe?
Hichilema: No, no, no; not between us. A little bit of envy, a little bit of jealous. A little bit of hatred – all sandwiched in there. It’s an old problem. Personalities that have never liked UPND from day one. And they used the tools that were available to them to demonise UPND from the day UPND was created in 1998. Go back and read the newspapers, go back and see who was demonising UPND throughout under [Anderson] Mazoka’s time. It’s the same individual. I just inherited that hatred. For what reason, I don’t know. Do I care about that? I don’t. Do I waste time on that? I don’t. I stay focused, we stay focused. You will see the results.
Hichilema: You will see the results, Kwangu. And politics sobers you down. You’ll lift yourself to a certain level. I went through that process myself. 2006 I thought I was winning, right. This is the feeling of an infantile political party led by colossal hatred. You don’t run politics like that. We must all be working together to save the people of Zambia against a collapsed economy. Why would anyone support a party in office with this economy that has gone to the pool? I would have said a word that is not palatable because I respect you, I respect the people of Zambia. This economy has gone to the pool, has gone deep down the ocean – under the ocean. We must retrieve it. If that party was a genuine political party, we would be talking the same language on issues of national interest: debt, corruption, collapsed economy, no jobs, kwacha gone! How come they find space to attack UPND? Then they are part of PF. I want the voters to know that these are part of PF. As you go to voting, don’t be deceived, don’t be cheated; these are part of PF and the results will show.