Monday, July 08, 2013

An unpatriotic and unattractive opposition
By Editor
Thu 04 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

The opposition leadership cannot totally absolve itself of blame for the parliamentary by-elections that are resulting from opposition members of parliament crossing the floor to the ruling Patriotic Front.

Yes, the Patriotic Front in government may today be more attractive to some opposition members. But there were also ruling MMD members of parliament who were attracted to the Patriotic Front in opposition. We had Maynard Misapa, who resigned from his position of deputy minister and MMD member of parliament for Mporokoso to join the Patriotic Front in opposition. Misapa won the parliamentary by-election that resulted from his crossing the floor from the then ruling MMD to the opposition Patriotic Front.

We also had some MMD members of parliament like Lameck Mangani and George Mpombo, who withdrew their loyalty to and support for the then ruling MMD and started to openly support and identify themselves with the Patriotic Front in opposition. It was okay then, to some people, for ruling MMD members of parliament to defect to the opposition Patriotic Front, but it's not okay for them to cross the floor from today's opposition to the Patriotic Front in government.

Nobody stopped the then ruling MMD members of parliament from joining the Patriotic Front in opposition. Why should it be an issue today if those in the opposition now want to join the Patriotic Front in government?

The challenge is for the opposition to make itself more attractive to ruling Patriotic Front members of parliament. And we actually don't think there is any opposition political party in Zambia today that can reject a Patriotic Front member of parliament applying to join them by crossing the floor and causing a by-election.

What the opposition should concentrate on is finding out what makes the Patriotic Front more attractive to their members of parliament and work on that.

One thing that is clear is that right now, the opposition is in disarray - they don't seem to know whether they are coming or going. They are all the time issuing contradictory messages that offer no direction to the nation. They need support but they don't know how to get it; they don't know how to conduct themselves in a way that would make them attractive. Some of them are outright regional and tribal political parties. Which sensible politician would resign his position as a member of parliament in a broad-based national political party that is in government to join a Bantustan-like political party? And which sensible politician would resign his position as a member of parliament with the ruling party and join an opposition political party whose corrupt activities when it was in government are every day being exposed through the nullification of its election results? And which politician would leave his position as a member of parliament of the ruling party to join an opposition political party whose key leaders are in court for corruption?

And the opposition is increasingly becoming associated with the most disagreeable messages and thoughts. Which member of parliament would leave his position with the ruling Patriotic Front to join an opposition that is clearly unpatriotic, an opposition that is campaigning for sanctions against the country for the purpose of protecting its corrupt and criminal-minded leaders from legitimate prosecution?

As things stand today, the opposition - the MMD and UPND - is thought to favour greed and corruption. Look at how they are defending the corrupt! Look at how they behaved when the issue to remove Rupiah Banda's presidential immunity so that he could be prosecuted for corruption came to Parliament!

Is this a recipe for the opposition to be elected or re-elected to government? The answer is a categorical no. This being the case, which sensible member of parliament can cross the floor to an opposition that has not only lost its moral standing, but is also seen to be unfit to govern, an opposition that stands no chance of being elected or re-elected?

If the opposition wants to stop its members of parliament from crossing the floor to the Patriotic Front, they should face these questions head-on and deal with them. The last few months profoundly disappointed many of their supporters and disgusted many others. Few expected them to support and defend corruption and the corrupt. And MMD in government has a record of removing the immunity of their former party president to get him arrested and prosecuted for corruption. The MMD in government under the leadership of Levy Mwanawasa turned its back on Frederick Chiluba and his corruption. Today's MMD of Nevers Mumba is defending the corruption of Rupiah Banda and his league. Compare the MMD of Nevers and that of Levy and see whether it really deserves public support and can be attractive to any member of parliament who hates corruption! Which decent member of parliament can cross the floor to join the MMD? Equally, the leadership of the UPND is busy defending the corruption of Rupiah and his league and they went to great lengths to try and protect his presidential immunity so that he wouldn't be prosecuted. Which dignified person can leave the ruling Patriotic Front to join the UPND? The flow can only be in one direction - in the direction of the Patriotic Front.

It is the opposition's unprincipledness, dishonesty that is making its most sensitive members leave or risk being expelled.

The other issue is the opposition's lack of patriotism. We have an opposition leadership that cares so much about its own plight and doesn't care much about the interests of the Zambian people. They would rather have Zambia ablaze if they don't get what they want. They would rather paralyse the economy of this country, if they can, to remove the Patriotic Front from power. That's why today they are seeking international sanctions against their own country. For what? Just to get the Patriotic Front discredited and out of power. Patriots don't behave that way because with or without them, their country should make progress; with or without them, they would wish their government well.

The current opposition is not one of patriots who wish to see their country succeed; it is one of elements who only want to see their country succeed if they are the ones in power.

There is no patriot who can accept to be dictated to by such elements.

And this is why today the opposition is losing members and is continually being defied by its own members of parliament. And if they do not change this negative attitude, parliamentary by-elections will continue.

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