Southern Province PF vice-chairman Simalonga Siachoona says he is staying in the former ruling party to offer effective checks on the UPND government.
“I think UPND has got sufficient members. They managed to win an election, so they are sufficient. I think my value must be measured on what is it that I can do in PF in order to make it bounce back in future. That is where I see my value being appreciated,” says Simalonga. “And if we start leaving these political parties because we have lost and we all go to a political party that has won elections, we are actually creating a situation where one day we are going to have a one-party state system. So, we should be where we are and check what our colleagues are doing the way they were checking us when we were in power.”
The storm that has hit the PF and rocked the boat is without discussion still raging. And the storm can take longer to weather it. But as Steve Rizzo advises, “When the storms of life are pouring down on you, muster up the courage to dance and bless the things that life has given you.” And indeed, it’s during the worst storms of one’s life that you will get to see the true colours of the people who say they care for you.
This is why we find Simalonga’s reasoning inspirational and courageous – a total departure to the fainthearted and opportunists.
This is positive thinking from a member of the party still coming to terms with a humiliating loss. It’s of course early days and we cannot ascertain his stamina against his own statement. That said, Simalonga must be encouraged together with other party members still shocked with the outcome of the August 12 elections to stay put.
They need to undertake a postmortem and design for themselves a strategic roadmap leading into 2026. Obviously, things cannot be done in a haste – overnight. The PF made numerous strategic errors. They rode their luck recklessly.
They seriously detached themselves from the grassroots. They lost the confidence of both members and the general citizenry. At the moment there’s little sympathy for the Patriotic Front. It’ll take some courage, humility and sincere apology for the party to start cultivating some semblance sympathy and following. Equally, the UPND government will have to falter – blunder – big time in the short term to afford PF some miracle – a swift recovery! Short of that, the greens are in for a long haul in the depressing opposition politics. But all is not lost for the PF. Notwithstanding the arrogance and disconnect that characterised the party’s leadership in the last 10 years, the country needs the PF to offer the UPND effective checks and balances. We can’t afford a defacto one-party system, which the PF had worked hard to build – to entrench in our nation. Our democracy will only thrive, be nourished, when and if the party that loses power remains intact and plays its role effectively. That’s to say the ruling party must feel the heat and worry that should it slumber, get overly excited with power and fail to deliver, any of the opposition parties including its predecessor can unseat the government.
Indeed, we cannot afford a calculated or self-induced annihilation of the PF no matter the party’s negatives. Yes, the PF’s history or record while in government is pathetic. It’s not something Zambians want to get back to. But the UPND needs some watchdog!
James Madison aptly put, “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted…If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
We hope the PF are in serious introspection and at some point, they will come out of the wilderness to remind their rivals in government on what not to do! For now, let’s afford them the space to weep and gnash their teeth but the mourning cannot be forever!
As Woody Allen stated, “And in all of Babylonia there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, ‘til the prophets bade the multitudes get a grip on themselves and shape up’.”
The PF have reaped what they clearly and earnestly sowed. It is now time to cultivate differently – to earn their lesson!
The PF have a lot of things to do to reorganise. Firstly, they need to accept that they lost the elections and are no longer in power. This will help them quickly come to terms with reality and begin to forge the way forward. Secondly, let them stop the blame game immediately. Life should not forever be about who made them lose the elections. It should be about, ‘how do we move from here?’. Their perpetual blame of each other will result in them disintegrating further and quickly disappear from our political landscape. We definitely need the PF – it is our main opposition party for now and their contribution to our democracy is very much needed. In fact, now that they have gone back to the opposition, they will have more ears to listen and provide checks and balances, even though they did not want to be checked when they had the power.
Thirdly, let the PF quickly organise a review meeting and listen to every member, regardless of the feedback. It is important to accommodate every view, bitter as it may sound. This will be very good for the party. And those that will be found wanting should accept the blame, apologise and step aside. As outsiders, we have heard and still keep hearing a lot about the PF’s internal differences. It is a fact that PF internal wrangles were deep and still are. And most of these were about the performance of the party’s leadership or a lack of it. How certain members were favoured over others and given government contracts, and incessant bootlicking, among other common vices. We also know that within the PF, some top leaders sponsored hooligans against fellow leaders. Yet, no one was ready to address this situation.
And fourthly, may the PF burry the past, organise a mini-convention and choose new leaders.
What we do not want is our country to slide into a one-party state, NO! The PF certainly offended most of the citizens when they were in power, but the party has already been punished by the citizens. So, people will quickly move on and begin to accept PF contributions to our democracy, depending on how they rebrand. We know that the UPND government is not composed of angels or gods. They too could make mistakes if they are not closely checked. For example, we wouldn’t want them to pass obnoxious bills simply because they have an inbuilt majority in Parliament. The nation is depending on the PF to check them, the same way the UPND checked on the PF and stopped the infamous Bill 10.
It’s therefore time for the PF to stop mourning, get over the shock, shame and bitterness, and begin to operate fully as an opposition party. We know that almost all of the PF members are tenderpreneurs who were used to feeding from the government coffers. And this will make it difficult for them to survive outside the government. But they can still survive if they start understanding the role of the opposition!