Thursday, May 02, 2013

MMD needs a team of good leaders to succeed
By Editor
Wed 01 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

"We must not bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend all is well because that route leads to doom," advises Copperbelt MMD information secretary Yotam Mtayachalo. This is the advice of an MMD leader to his party. And we think it is advice that needs to receive the most favourable of considerations from the MMD leadership, cadres and members.

To begin with, we would like to refer to a saying of Lenin, that the attitude - that is to say, the seriousness of purpose - of a party is measured, basically, by the attitude it takes toward its own errors. And in the same way, the seriousness of purpose of MMD leaders, cadres and members will be measured by the attitude they take toward their own errors, problems, challenges.

Of course, their political opponents will always be alert to know what errors they have made, what problems and challenges they are facing. When those errors are made and are not subjected to self-criticism, their political competitors will take advantage of them. When those errors are made and are subjected to self-criticism, they may be used by their political opponents or competitors, but in a very different way. This is so because in the former case, their errors would not be corrected whilst in the latter they would be. That's why it is important for the MMD leadership, cadres and members to heed the advice of Yotam and take a forthright and serious attitude toward their errors, problems and challenges. They need to make a serious and honest analysis, a deep analysis of the state of their party. They need to analyse all that has been done, the good things that have been done and all the errors that have been made and the problems and challenges that have emerged.

The MMD has to begin by recognising the scale of their defeat and of their problem. They need to fully understand the causes of their defeat.

It is a fact that the MMD became increasingly associated with the most disagreeable messages, thoughts and practices. This is a political party that went to Parliament and removed the abuse of office offence from our Anti Corruption Commission Act so that its leadership could steal with impunity. They failed to produce convincing arguments for the removal of that offence, but still went ahead and enacted a law that suited their corrupt desires.

There is no need for the MMD to cheat themselves that the people of Zambia like it. If the people of Zambia loved the MMD and its leadership, why did they vote them out in such a way? It must be appreciated that the people of Zambia detest them. And this distaste is deep, it is not a momentary irritation which they can easily scratch away. They should not dismiss it as a mere false perception. They lost the election because they were linked to intolerance. In early 2011, they caused the deaths of many young people in Mongu and left a good number maimed for life as a result of their intolerance and inability to peacefully deal with dissent. They were also linked to harshness: thought to be uncaring about poverty, unemployment, poor housing and so on and so forth. They were thought to favour greed. It can also not be denied that the key leadership of the MMD was thought to be arrogant and out of touch. They were insensitive to the feelings of the people.

Corruption disgraced them in the eyes of the people. And these perceptions will not go away quickly unless a lot of work, reorganisation, reorientation and realignment are undertaken.
As Yotam says, the MMD should face these issues head on and deal with them and not pretend all is well.

Actually people need a rest from them. And they themselves need time to reflect and listen and come to understand one another better than they have of late. They certainly need to do a lot more about themselves. They need better leadership than they currently have. They need different organisation. They need a broad and stable financial base and not dependence on handouts from those who have stolen public funds. They need to spread their appeal and attract different sorts of people. In a word, they need to take a fresh look in the new circumstances.
And the impact of disunity upon them is clear to see. The MMD must in the very near future learn again to display the camaraderie and common purpose that is fundamental to a party's prospects. If they don't strengthen their leadership, they will stand no chance of ever being re-elected.

The MMD needs to confront head-on the danger of inner-party factionalism. This danger has its roots in several factors: the rough-handling, marginalisation and demotion that many outstanding MMD cadres have experienced since the change of leadership. This is leaving a strong legacy of bitterness and resentment - the walking wounded. This has cultivated tendencies towards excessive defensivism, and also to habits of counter-factionalism in some cases. There are also some warning signs of the dangers of disciplinary measures being used to settle political differences.

And as we have stated before, experience has repeatedly shown that a party divided into hostile groups loses its militancy. Protracted inner-party strife inevitably results in party members' concentration on discords. The party becomes distracted from political struggle and day-to-day work among the masses and loses its influence. On this score, the advice given by Yotam also needs to be heeded.

Yotam says: "We need to initiate dialogue and reconciliation within the MMD first than rushing to expel ailing members because that will not build the party. We will divide it further. We must have an honest assessment as leaders and not pretend that all is well. The leadership of the party at all levels must strive hard and make personal sacrifices and make the party attractive once more by first identifying our weaknesses and strength in an honest manner. Political parties have gone into oblivion because their leaders lived in perpetual denial, leading to a catastrophic end."

If the new leadership of the party is not up to the job required of it, let it be replaced in the interest of the party.

There is clearly very poor judgement on the part of the current leadership of the MMD that needs to be corrected. If a leader repeatedly shows poor judgement, even in little things, people should start to think that having him as the leader is the real mistake. And just as in sports, a coach needs a team of good players to win, a political party needs a team of good leaders to succeed.

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