Sunday, December 01, 2013

When does a comrade become an enemy?
By Editor
Sat 19 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

The way some Patriotic Front leaders have dealt with Wynter Kabimba would frighten many who may want to join politics.

If Patriotic Front leaders and cadres can treat a comrade like Wynter in that way, what about someone they don't know, someone totally new?

It cannot be denied that Wynter, for all his weaknesses and failures, has made a huge contribution to the organisation, development and political success of the Patriotic Front.

A combination of Michael Sata, Guy Scott and Wynter gave the leadership of the Patriotic Front something that most of our political parties did not have - a combination of very necessary skills needed by any political party to win an election. Of course, people are different.

Michael Sata is Michael Sata; you won't have any other Michael Sata. And no matter how much one wants to imitate him and be like him, it won't work. The most one can do is to be inspired by his example.

Wynter is certainly not an enemy of Michael. If anything, he is one of the most loyal to Michael of the Patriotic Front leaders. Of course, there has been a well-planned campaign to get Wynter out of the position he today occupies in the Patriotic Front. The leadership of the party and cadres have been bombarded every day with anti-Wynter propaganda. But nothing is convincing for them to embark on such a vicious and malicious campaign against Wynter.

In saying all this, we are not in any way trying to claim that Wynter is indispensable and the Patriotic Front cannot do without him. No one is indispensable. Wynter is dispensable. He is simply a tool, like all of us, who can be used and discarded when the job is over. But even a tool needs to be discarded well, parked properly in some corner in case one day it becomes of use again. A tool is not like toilet tissue that is flashed after use and never to be reused.

When dealing with comrades, there has to be a certain level of decency, honesty and loyalty. Wynter can be removed from all his positions in the party and government but let it be done with decency, sensitivity and decorum.

All the undesirable things that are being attributed to Wynter cannot justify the way they are trying to treat him in the Patriotic Front. Wynter is not an enemy of the party. But the way he is being treated is worse than the treatment the Patriotic Front accords its enemies or political opponents. If the way they are campaigning against Wynter was the way they campaign against the opposition, there would be no opposition leader standing today, and Zambia would be a de facto one party state.

This raises serious questions that call for honest answers on why Wynter is being treated with such cruelty and inhumanity. Yes, there is a power struggle in the Patriotic Front. Politics is about power. But between who or among who is this struggle? Is it between Wynter and Michael? Certainly not. Wynter can never fight Michael because his whole political career and probably beyond has been built by Michael.

Wynter's loyalty to Michael cannot be questioned or doubted and he is certainly among the most loyal to Michael of the Patriotic Front leaders. So, who is Wynter's presence in the Patriotic Front threatening? It is certainly not Michael.

This is totally an unnecessary fight. And in this fight, there is nothing to be won. If Wynter is today kicked out of the Patriotic Front, what will those kicking him out win? Or if Wynter continues to stay in the leadership of the Patriotic Front, can that be said to be victory on his part? The answer is a categorical no. This is an unnecessary fight. But in every fight, there are costs, albeit to different degrees, to be borne by all those who take part in it.

This fight against Wynter is not profiting Michael or the Patriotic Front in any way politically. If anything, it is costing Michael and the Patriotic Front politically.

An organised party, a disciplined party will deal with its succession issues in a less divisive and destructive manner. We have seen what damage has been caused to the African National Congress by the barbaric methods, uncomradely approaches that were used to remove Thabo Mbeki and replace him with Jacob Zuma. The African National Congress is today paying the political price for all that.

There is a better way for the Patriotic Front to get rid of Wynter as secretary general if they don't want him than to destroy their party in pursuit of one man.

The rough-handling that many outstanding Patriotic Front leaders and cadres close to Wynter are experiencing at the hands of a Bemba hegemonic clique within the Patriotic Front will certainly leave a very strong legacy of bitterness and resentment - "the walking wounded". This is creating tendencies towards excessive defensivism, and also habits of counter-factionalism that the Patriotic Front will fail to quench.

There are some warning signs of the dangers of disciplinary measures being used to settle political differences. These dangers are fed by, and feed, the rear-guard action of small pockets of very selfish and corrupt elements resisting progress in the party and the country and who are trying to arrange the politics of the party so that they can get away with their corrupt and tribalistic practices.

As we have warned before, the Patriotic Front is not immune to what generally causes factionalism within African political parties - careerism, patronage and business ambitions. There is need for extreme vigilance about the grave dangers of abuse of the party for careerist and patronage purposes.

Our appeal to the leadership and members of the Patriotic Front is one of justice, fairness and decency in the way they deal with Wynter and other members of their party when they have differences. No political difference within a political party can justify the inhumanity with which Wynter is being treated. Who in the Patriotic Front leadership would like to be treated that way? Yes, they have every right to get rid of Wynter if they don't want him, but let it be done with a sense of humanity, and let them take into account where they are coming from with Wynter and what they have done together. Let there be honesty and not crookedness in the way they deal with each other. There is very little honesty in the way Wynter is being handled. And one does not need a political microscope to discern what is going on. This reminds us of a message we got the other day from a senior citizen comrade of ours: "In Luke 12:1-3, Jesus warns us about yeast (hypocrisy) of the Pharisees. For the Pharisees read politicians. King James Version is good. We experienced this in past politicians, especially under Chiluba and Banda. It seems we are going through the same experience again. God bless."

Again, it is within the rights of the leaders and members of the Patriotic Front to choose who they want to associate with or not. If the time has come for them to disassociate with Wynter, it is within their rights to do so. But Wynter was a comrade of theirs. Let the parting be with minimum acrimony. Very few divorces can be said to be sweet but let them be decent, painful as they may be.

When does a comrade become an enemy and deserve to be treated as such?

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