Monday, September 24, 2007
By Noel Sichalwe in Chongwe
Monday September 24, 2007 [04:00]
IT'S now time to try the Tongas for Republican presidency, former MMD Chongwe Constituency chairman Willie Shalya has said. Defecting from the ruling MMD to opposition UPND at a poorly attended rally addressed by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema on Saturday, Shalya said the country had tried Bemba and Lenje-speaking presidents and that it was now time to try a Tonga.
"We have tried the Bembas, the Lenjes and now we should try the Tongas. The next time it is the Chikunda," Shalya said. At the same rally, it was announced that the entire MMD Chongwe constituency executive committee had defected to the UPND together with other members from Patriotic Front, totaling 38 defectors.
But Chongwe member of parliament Sylvia Masebo said the defection of Shalya was good riddance.
"This was expected and speaking for myself as area member of parliament and not on behalf of the MMD, it is good riddance because I was having difficulties working with them," she said.
Masebo said Shalya and his team de-campaigned her during the last elections though she managed to win because of her popularity at the grassroots level. She said she was surprised that the MMD executive did not take any disciplinary action against the erring members even when they were aware of the problems.
"At least, I am happy that they have left. My job will be made easier," Masebo said.
"You can't have an effective government if the party structures are not supporting government programmes. As a member of parliament, you work with party structures to implement government programmes. Now when the party structure is undermining you, you can't succeed."
Masebo said it would have been better for the MMD executive to take the party problems at constituency level seriously to discipline members who were not willing to work with the government.
She said it was good that the defectors had gone to the party they were supporting in the last elections.
"It is interesting that the party leadership pretended that they didn't know what was happening in Chongwe and what was going to happen," Masebo said.
"These people have been kind enough for me to leave to work with the party they have been campaigning for."
Masebo said tribal politics could not work in Zambia. She said if UPND would continue on the tribal line, the party would not go anywhere. Masebo said the Zambian political history since 1964 had shown that tribal politics could not work.
And addressing the rally, Hichilema said he was happy that people of Chongwe were beginning to lead the movement for a concerted and united Zambia ahead of the 2011 elections.
Hichilema welcomed the MMD constituency officials that had defected to his party, saying UPND was not interested in fighting, apart from fighting poverty.
He thanked the UPND leadership ranks for accommodating the defectors from the MMD saying his party had many rooms to accommodate the 12 million Zambians.
Hichilema said the defectors had demonstrated courage and commitment to serve the Zambian people in order to make a better tomorrow.
"In UPND, there is no segregation. If there is, it is one or two as you know in a house there is always such because we want to work for the people of Zambia," he said. He said it was difficult to explain why one part of the country was so rich while the other was very poor.
"I want to share with you what is the problem," Hichilema said. "It is poor management of public resources. Now that we know the problem, what do we do? We want to ensure that we solve the paradox through knowledge-based leadership that doesn't leave people in the dark. What has been missing for the past 43 years is knowledge-based leadership for development. UPND will deliver that. Ask me why I don't insult back when I am insulted? I know those people who insult and shout at each other because they have failed at thinking. We want to change the way politics run in this country. What we want to bring back is reason and knowledge-based leadership."
Hichilema said UPND wanted to ensure that every Zambian was equal. He said during the pre-independence period, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Dr Kenneth Kaunda worked together to have independence.
"If they didn't do that, we would not have been where we are today," he said.
Hichilema said in 1990, Zambians worked together again to deliver multipartism. He said what was needed now was for people to work together for social and economic development.
"UPND believes that every child should be provided with free education up to college and university level. Once the children are educated, we want to ensure that we run the economy properly and not the way it is now," he said.
He further said there was need for the provision of safe and clean water unlike situations where people were sharing water with animals. ichilema also said UPND would ensure that nurses and doctors were properly remunerated to avoid a situation were they always wanted to work in countries with better conditions of service. He said under the UPND government, health services would be free for people who cannot afford.
Hichilema said currently, people were only given prescriptions from clinics and hospitals even when they had no money, due to lack of employment. Hichilema said UPND would ensure that farmers received free fertiliser and input in the first three years of the office. He said the government should not be spending money to buy relief food which was used to corrupt people during elections. He said UPND would provide free fertiliser and seeds, and only give relief food to the vulnerable.