Saturday, November 02, 2013

PF is going the MMD way on cadre discipline
By Editor
Tue 08 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

We think the Patriotic Front leadership is making a very grave mistake by allowing the type of cadres that the MMD had in Lusaka to emerge in their party.

What we are seeing is a replica of the type of party the MMD had in Lusaka before the 2011 elections. The MMD had developed a very violent team of cadres that took over the party and its activities in Lusaka.

This group of cadres reigned by violence, intimidation and to some extent blackmail. They became untouchable. No MMD leader could dare go against them. The only person they could listen to, without question, was the party president. They won the support of the president by showing him unquestionable and unwavering support.

And with the support of the president, they created a lot of political space for themselves to manoeuvre without anybody stopping them. They enjoyed themselves - they had the money, they attended any state function even without invitation. The party leadership tolerated them, could not question them or denounce their behaviour because it was too risky politically for them to do so. Tolerating them meant them being seen to be on the side of the president. Not even the police could do anything about their unruly or violent behaviour.

But what the MMD leadership did not realise was that this unruly and violent behaviour of their cadres was costing them general public support needed to win elections. Their behaviour left the public dismayed and disheartened. These cadres became the face of the MMD. But it was a hated face of the MMD. The more unruly, violent and assertive these cadres became, the more the MMD became unpopular with the masses of our people.

Of course, we do realise that most of the PF's key politicians came from the MMD. Most of them only joined the Patriotic Front after the 2006 elections. Some were even MMD parliamentary candidates in 2006 itself. It is therefore not surprising that they have brought with them that type of behaviour into the Patriotic Front.

The behaviour of Patriotic Front cadres in Lusaka is leaving many people, many voters dismayed and disheartened. Generally, the Zambian people want to see politics conducted in a peaceful and honest way, devoid of any violence and slander of political opponents. They want to see political leaders and their cadres guided by the truth, integrity and justice.

It is necessary for Patriotic Front leaders and their cadres to always remind themselves that the politics they are engaging in should be for the good of the country and the people, and not for the political survival of any individual or party. If the spirit of the primacy of the common good were to animate them, we would not be witnessing the unruly behaviour, the violence, wrangling, bickering and power struggling which leaves the masses of our people dismayed and disheartened.

In the present atmosphere of fierce competition and character assassination, it is necessary for the leaders and cadres of the Patriotic Front to remind themselves of the noble goals of political activity.

And as we have pointed out before, there is need for the Patriotic Front to reexamine the type of cadres they have and ask themselves: is this the kind of cadre the Patriotic Front needs or does not need?
The Zambian people want to see party cadres who conduct themselves in a more humane, humble and sober manner. They don't want to see party cadres who behave as if they are all the time high on dagga or intoxicated with alcohol.

The Zambian people want to see party cadres who are selfless and who are not simply looking for cuts or for personal benefits in this or that. Today's party cadres seem to be for hire to the highest bidder. Those who are ready to part with money control them. A senior MMD politician once told us that "wherever you see cadres marching, protesting, beating people and engaging in all sorts of violence, someone has forked out money". This seems to be true not only for MMD cadres but for Patriotic Front cadres as well as for those in the UPND. And this is why our politics are increasingly becoming violent. We are so often witnessing intra-party and inter-party cadre violence. Why? It is simply because there is someone paying for it; cadres are being rewarded for being violent and unruly.

Zambia needs a different type of cadres from what we have today. We need party cadres who are rooted and grounded in society, and understand what their role is in transforming our country. We need cadres who are ready to influence people, communities and structures by their exemplary humane behaviour.

But it is not by accident that things are what they are today with our party cadres. There has been an increasing decline in political morality, ethics and values in the country. And this has caused considerable damage to the moral standing of our politicians and their party cadres.

There is need for the Patriotic Front and other political parties in our country to start paying a lot of attention to the training of cadres. This is the only way we will be able to strengthen our multiparty political dispensation because this can only be done by cadres who are well grounded politically. Our political parties need to make some internal assessments of the way they are operating if they are to positively respond to the needs, aspirations and interests of our people.

Of course, the membership of the Patriotic Front has been growing very fast since coming to power. Why? This is simply because this is where the eating is taking place. And this growth in membership is not reflected in the activities of the Patriotic Front. Most members and some of the leadership, even at central committee level, are not involved in the daily life of the party. The activities of the party are actually being run by elements without any party positions. There is need to assess the members of the party and the central committee members on the basis of their deployments and their work within the organisation. This is the only way they will be able to build a party of activists and not merely members. There is need to invest resources in the development of cadres and ensure that they are being properly inducted and educated on party policies and that there are continuous political education programmes for them.

In order to guarantee that the Patriotic Front does not change its colour, the party must not only have a correct line and correct policies but must train and bring up thousands of party cadres to carry on its work. This is an extremely important issue, a matter of life and death for the Patriotic Front. It is a matter of fundamental importance for the present and the future of the party. And from the highest structures down to the grassroots, they must everywhere give constant attention to the training and upbringing of cadres. They must purposefully train thousands of cadres and hundreds of first-rate mass leaders who are loyal and devoted in serving the nation and their party.

This is important because it is on these cadres that the party relies for its links with the masses. Given the importance of their tasks, such cadres must be free from selfishness, from individualistic heroism, ostentation, sloth, passivity and arrogant sectarianism. Such are the qualities and style of work demanded of party cadres.

Cadres are a decisive factor, once the political line is determined. Therefore, it is important to train large numbers of new cadres in a planned way.

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