NEW Heritage Party leader Chishala Kateka says the party is cognizant that the playing field hasn’t exactly been level going into the August 12 elections.
In an interview, Kateka however noted that the New Heritage Party has as good a chance as all other parties.
She further noted with regret that the ruling PF made a head-start before everyone else and used its members of parliaments, ministers including government resources to campaign way before the Electoral Commission of Zambia opened the campaigns.
“We are now debarred from doing certain campaign activities because of COVID-19, which our colleagues already did. The United Party for National Development also have a comparative advantage over us because like the PF, they have existed longer, 23 years to be precise, and appear to have more resources readily available to them,” Kateka said. “But what is most important and which we are urging the people of Zambia to do, is that we have a superior plan for the nation than the two big parties. We do not entertain cadre-ism and therefore violence, in our party. Zambians must examine what we are offering closely instead of going with the crowds or the wind.”
She said campaigns are going on well, stressing that as for her party nothing much has changed with the banning of rallies because even in its original plan, New Heritage did not intend to use rallies in reaching out to the electorate.
Kateka said the door-to-door strategy is progressing well, especially that her party had planned for it upfront.
“We have certain members campaigning daily from their communities in localities they know and where they are well known by the people there. We also are using all media channels to the best of our abilities. As we enter the final lap, you should expect to see and feel us increasing our pace,” she said. “This is like a long distance race where you time your pace lest you run out of steam midway into the race. We are very comfortable with our campaigns.”
Kateka said although the party was registered just over a year before elections, the feedback had been very positive and encouraging.
“People like our message and also appreciate our approach to politics in general and the campaigns with our emphasis on love for one another as one people irrespective of ethnic, regional, religious, political and all other diversities – in unity. The people are for us because our message and approach resonate with their own beliefs and desire for Zambia,” Kateka said.
She added that the New Heritage Party emphasises the fact that Zambia is a rich country endowed with massive wealth which belongs to all Zambians and would thus do everything possible to exploit the resources and ensure all the 18 million Zambians and not just a few, “or worse still, only foreigners”, benefit.
Kateka said everything inside Zambia’s boundaries is, “our common heritage, our inheritance, and must be used to cause the kind of development that changes people’s lives for the better.”
She said the party also believes that one way of getting the best out of the country’s resources is to ensure the best of its human resources are appointed on merit to all positions so that it harvests meritorious performances.
“On 22nd March this year, we wrote the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Zambia Police requesting them to disarm the PF and UPND cadres proactively because history had shown that wherever or whenever these two parties contested elections, there tended to be outbreaks of violence. We also requested stakeholders for an indaba to create a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections. Both these were ignored,” Kateka recalled. “Does it surprise anyone that the two parties are engaged in violence? No. As New Heritage Party, we are concerned about the youth and all others who are being subjected to danger through these acts of violence. For us, we see no PF or UPND youth but fellow Zambians who should be protected by the law.”
She said when the New Heritage Party comes to power, it would dismantle such units, and without looking at their backgrounds or records, help to turn them into law abiding and productive citizens through well worked out empowerment schemes.
Kateka noted that cadres are like their own children and like a loving mother, her party would not stand by and watch as her children fight but would come between them and offer solutions to their problems.
“We call upon both parties to inculcate love and responsibility in their members, to value and respect the sanctity of life, and stop the violence,” said Kateka.