Sunday, January 20, 2013

The opposition and its challenges

The opposition and its challenges
Sun 20 Jan. 2013, 10:30 CAT

There is no doubt that our opposition is in shambles and is facing serious problems and challenges. But they don't want to admit it. They want to pretend all is well, save for the acts of destabilisation from the Patriotic Front government and the media that is hostile to them.

But can this be said to be true? Can one really say the opposition has no problems of its own other than those created for them by their opponents? The opposition has problems of its own - many of them self-created.

Our opposition has serious financial difficulties. And for the new member of the opposition, MMD, this is even worse. The MMD doesn't know how to operate without a lot of money. They were used to receiving a lot of money from all sorts of characters doing business with government. And the MMD was also parasitic on government institutions for resources. All that has dried up and with it the opportunities for patronage have disappeared. It has moved from being a political party where there was a lot of eating to a political party of hunger. Many of their members are not used to this type of thing and are seeking opportunities where they think the living is easier.

And there wasn't much else that bound the leaders and members of the MMD together for a long time other than money and eating. Today that glue has become very weak and they can hardly hold together. As a result of this, a series of other problems have appeared.

They have abandoned almost completely the qualities of loyalty and the bonds of party without which they effectively cease to exist. Passions about the future of their party rightly fired people up, but wrongly led them to attack and despise their colleagues. Is it going to be possible for them to rediscover the old instincts that glued them together in these new times and new circumstances? The impact of disunity upon them is clear to see. They must in the very near future learn again to display the camaraderie and common purpose that are fundamental to a party's prospects. If they don't do so, they stand no chance of being re-elected.

And the other key opposition political party, UPND, that was bound together by regional, cultural and language ties is also now failing to conceal its problems and challenges. The regional, tribal and cultural glue that held them together is also starting to weaken. The hopes that they had of getting into government by 2011 have disappeared. The illusions that they had about their popularity have also dried up. And they can no longer deny the fact that they are a regional political party that has serious problems and challenges becoming national. The party leadership seems to have no clue on how they should work their way to Eastern, Muchinga, Northern, Luapula, Copperbelt and the major parts of Central and Lusaka provinces. Their arrogance and pomposity can no longer carry them. The bragging of being this and that has proved unsustainable because it is unrealistic. They can no longer claim to be the most educated, the most knowledgeable when it comes to business and economic matters, the leading entrepreneurs. Parliamentary statistics actually show that UPND has the least educated members of parliament of the three major political parties. And their leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who tried to project himself as a leading entrepreneur, an outstanding economist and a very rich man can no longer lay much claim to these credentials. People have seen through him that he is not what he claims to be and he doesn't have much of what he claims to have. And as a result his supporters, members and cadres are increasingly becoming dispirited. UPND is facing real problems and challenges which they need to face in an absolutely honest and sincere manner if they have to harbour any hope of a reversal of political fortunes.

But these problems, both for MMD and UPND, are not insurmountable. Every serious and successful organisation, political party or otherwise, has faced problems and challenges. However, the successful ones are those who know how to deal with their problems and overcome them; those who are able to learn from their own errors. Those who know how to correct their mistakes, their errors, their weaknesses gain prestige. The fact that they know how to make corrections will give them prestige. It will give them all the strength which organisations have when they know how to purify themselves of errors, weaknesses and evils, when they know how to overcome their difficulties. This is so because every obstacle, challenge or difficulty introduces a person to himself, a political party to itself. How we respond to difficulties, problems, challenges is of ultimate importance.

The greatest example of the right response to a challenge, a problem, a difficulty is the story of the giant Goliath, who confronted and intimidated the armies of Israel, including the brothers of a young shepherd named David. David's brothers chose not to do anything about the problems, difficulties, challenges before them, but David did. What was the difference? The way each viewed the problem, the challenge, the difficulty. The brothers looked at the problem, challenge, difficulty and figured it was too big to hit, but David looked at it and figured it was too big to miss.

The way you look at any problem, challenge or difficulty in your life, in your political party, in anything you are involved in, makes all the difference. Let each new problem, challenge or difficulty force you to go to the next level. No problem, challenge or difficulty will ever leave you the way it found you. You will be better, or you will be worse.

Keep in mind this important fact about problems, challenges, difficulties: every one of them has a limited lifespan. We worried about things last year which we can even remember today. Don't believe them when they tell you that things will not change, that they will not pass. Problems, challenges, difficulties subdue mediocre people, but great leaders rise above them. We need to be like the great man who, when asked what helped him overcome the problems, challenges, difficulties of life, responded, "the other problems, challenges, difficulties." We should be like a kite that rises against the wind. Every problem has a soft spot; there is an answer.

Many people think most of their problems, challenges and difficulties are money related. This is also what our opposition seem to think and believe. But the correct perspective is to know that a problem, a challenge, a difficulty that can be solved with money is not really a problem, a challenge, a difficulty; it is an expense. You get the money, pay and the problem, challenge or difficulty is over. You don't need to do much. All you need to do is pay and the problem, challenge, difficulty is over.
Someone said that problems, challenges, obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal. Keep your eyes on the goal. And remember that in times of adversity, you don't have a problem, a challenge, a difficulty; you have a choice.

There is no need for our opposition leaders, their cadres and members to pretend all is well except the bad things the Patriotic Front and its government and the hostile media are doing to them and reporting about them. The ostrich type approach to politics doesn't work and won't do. Problems, challenges and difficulties have to be admitted and addressed openly. You cannot solve or address a problem, a challenge, a difficulty you do not acknowledge, you do not accept.

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