Monday, February 10, 2014

PF to have strong edge in 2016 over opposition, says Mpombo
By Allan Mulenga in Lusaka and Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Tue 26 Nov. 2013, 14:01 CAT

GEORGE Mpombo says PF will have a strong edge in the 2016 general elections over the opposition if UPND and MMD continue to massage their egos.

In an interview yesterday, Mpombo, who is leader of the People's Democratic Party and former defence minister in the MMD regime, observed that the two main opposition parties were in a state of "dungeon disarray".

"The by-election in Mansa has demonstrated that the opposition political parties continue to be in a dungeon of disarray by splitting votes. Even if we have general elections, there is a re-run and these political parties like UPND and MMD are not able to forge that unity of purpose, then you know that you are giving way to the ruling party," he said.

Mpombo said alliances were futile on the political landscape due to the egoistic nature of leadership in the opposition.

"Egoistic nature of our Zambian leadership in politics today has made alliances to be futile. No one is ready at the moment to give way to anybody at all. These alliances will continue to be futile, unworkable and unproductive because there is a tendency in the Zambian political camp, especially in the opposition, for people trying to massage their ego," he said. "They the opposition are not ready to give way to anybody at all. That is the biggest road block to any productive or working alliance."

Mpombo said the alliance between the UPND and the MMD was out of question.

"Because each one of these political parties think that they are within reach of State House on their own as separate political entities. So, on the basis of that, it technically cannot work; it is out of question," he said.

Mpombo said the opposition was not ready to form a formidable force ahead of 2016 presidential elections.

"Obviously, the PF is dilly-dallying on 50 per cent plus one because they know that it is not possible to get 50 plus one outrightly. They would want to maintain the status quo. If the status quo remains in force, naturally, the ruling party will have a strong edge over the opposition because it will be simple majority," he said. "If the 50 plus one constitution requirement is not enacted and these differences continue to manifest; splitting of votes; opposition political parties standing individually, naturally the PF will have a strong edge over the opposition."

Mpombo said the future of the opposition in the country was cloudy.

"If this simple majority continues to prevail, but even if 50 plus one was enacted, again it will depend on whether the two big political parties can come together. You could see a situation where one big opposition political party is going to join hands with the PF…because they could not agree to work with others in a unity of purpose arrangement. It is little bit cloudy," he said.

Mpombo advised the UPND and the MMD to be sincere with one another.

"For now, I don't foresee any workable and productive alliance in Zambian context, especially which can produce a formidable political force. Little guys can come up and gang up; amalgamate, but I am talking about big political players that can create some impact on the political landscape," said Mpombo. "I don't see that in the foreseeable future. Political alliances in Zambia cannot work as long as leaders continue to massage their egos; as long as leaders continue to perceive themselves as being more capable or being more winnable than others."

And Fr Richard Luonde said the opposition is getting embarrassing results in by-elections because the leaders are too weak to compete with President Michael Sata, says Fr .

And the Democratic Governance and Human Rights Advocates (DEGHA) national coordinator Gerald Mutelo says it will be difficult for the opposition political parties to get the much needed public support when it has exhibited serious lack of direction.

Commenting on the poor results recorded by the candidates of opposition political parties in last week's Mansa Central parliamentary by-election, Fr Luonde said President Sata was a political heavyweight and opposition leaders were finding it difficult to challenge him in PF strongholds countrywide.

The PF candidate in the Mansa Central parliamentary by-election, Dr Chitalu Chilufya, emerged victorious after getting 9,671 votes while FDD candidate, Alfred Mwape came out second with 1,279 votes.

MMD's Alfred Kapolyo got 1,103 votes, Rosemary Chikonde of the UPND got 388 and UNIP's Charles Mwelwa was at the bottom with 162 votes.

Fr Luonde said the election results were a disaster for the opposition and there was need for their leaders to re-strategise and ensure that their parties become more relevant to Zambian's politics.

"For democracy to thrive in Zambia, we need a genuinely competitive opposition and not the current situation where some leaders are so much pre-occupied with getting personal with the Head of State. President Sata is known by Zambians, they know his character, his strength and he speaks their language, he gives hope. This could be evidently seen by what happened in Mansa where he spoke what people wanted to hear, and they voted for the PF candidate. He is a clever and experienced politician who cannot compete with Nevers Mumba or Hakainde Hichilema," Fr Luonde said.

He said the opposition had concentrated much on attacking President Sata as an individual and have abandoned their primary responsibility of raising genuine issues of governance.

Fr Luonde said victory would be guaranteed for the PF and President Sata in 2016 if the opposition fail to come up with issues that would convince Zambians to vote for them.

And Mutelo said the biggest problem with the opposition was that their leaders had failed to understand their role in terms of providing checks and balances.

"There is even what is called positive criticism but we don't see it in Zambia. Our opposition leaders have concentrated much on negative things and about President Sata every time. Zambians are able to read politics and they cannot vote for the opposition with the disunity that they have exhibited so far. The opposition must re-organise themselves because they are very critical to our democracy," Mutelo said.

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