CORNELIUS Mweetwa is warning party members that the ruling UPND can be removed from power by the people and the first instance comes in 2026, “if we do not do what the people want”.
Addressing UPND councillors and party officials at Woodlands Lodge in Livingstone, Mweetwa called on the ruling party members to defend President Hakainde Hichilema from baseless political attacks.
“We as UPND are capable of being removed from power by the people and the first instance comes in 2026 if we do not do what the people want. To do what the people want it is not for the party, it is the government of UPND under the ‘New Dawn’ administration under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema. Hence the need for us as a party to be ready to defend His Excellency so that he and his administration are left to work for the people of Zambia, instead of defending themselves from unnecessary attacks coming from the opposition Patriotic Front and its surrogates. Some of them like Sean Tembo [PeP leader], we all know that when he was impersonating himself as an opposition political party leader he spent more time attacking his fellow opposition leader at that time Hakainde Hichilema,” said Mweetwa. “…Now that we have formed government he [Tembo] has continued to attack His Excellency the President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema…so it is not about attacking government, it is because he is bitter, attacking an individual. So you the party members don’t leave such people
unattended to. And get me clearly, I am not talking about violence. I am talking about responses. This government is too new to be indented with with a lot of criticism from these people who are saying they are confused. The beauty is that the people of Zambia have seen that whatever they are trying to say is all about bitterness. There should be no factions here in Livingstone, like there should be no factionalism in Choma or indeed in Chipata or Kaputa. The party now is no longer an opposition and requires every member to be at their best in terms of loyalty, in terms of hard work. Because when we were in the opposition that was easy politics. Attacking the ruling party is easy politics because you can say anything you wish against them including things that are baseless and substantiated. You can say them through the enjoyment of the freedom of speech. So what I am saying is that to attack as an opposition is easier than to defend government policy and decisions.”
Winston Churchill once said, “A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”
And Cornelius’ observation that “attacking the ruling party is easy politics because you can say anything you wish against them including things that are baseless and substantiated” is unfortunately correct. This is the kind of politics that most of our leaders – party leaders and their followers – are good at. Cornelius is equally right in his warning that, “UPND are capable of being removed from power by the people and the first instance comes in 2026 if we do not do what the people want”. The UPND government has a gigantic task to right the battered economy – to ensure there’s liquidity in the economy. People need a change of fortunes.
The UPND promised big and they’re still confidently pledging to deliver on their manifesto. A checklist is in public domain. And five years to deliver on the party’s flagship programmes can look like 12 months depending of the resource envelop. But it is encouraging that the party in government is aware of what voters are capable of doing if their expectations are not met. And Zambians’ expectations from the UPND administration are sky-high. And those seeking to supplant this government are already all over the place with guns blazing, marking X against pledges – writing off the party even before its first national budget is presented! They are doing so as if to justify Groucho Marx’s observation that, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
But after a lost decade, Zambians’ expectations are justifiably high while patience is as thin as a model’s knuckles!
But may be a little patience would do as Shirley MacLaine put it, “It’s useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office.”
We hope UPND cadres will correctly get Cornelius’ counsel over their defence for their leader. We hope UPND zealots will be civil in their responses to opposition criticism. They must be able to acknowledge the fact that democracy is a noisy marketplace for the exchange of ideas, viewpoints and not punches and machetes like we experienced not too long ago under the PF. We hope UPND cadres will not turn into tormenters of fellow citizens who criticise their leader.
But the UPND leadership too has a bigger role to play in containing their overzealous cadres and inducting them into civil politics. There is already a good start to this idea with Hakainde’s pronouncement on freedom of expression and the respect for human rights.
The UPND is walking a tight rope of mammoth promises and will need to strike a delicate balance of delivering on them to muster a realistic chance of remaining afloat and reach the political shore. As we previously stated, it will not be easy. Time alone will tell.