Monday, March 24, 2014

Rupiah and the MMD's future
By Editor
Mon 09 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Rupiah Banda says MMD members must recognise and accept that they are no longer in power.

And Rupiah has accordingly advised MMD members to remain united and focused if their party is to bounce back to power. Rupiah is right. Without them recognising that they are out of power and they may be out of power for a very long time, they will not be able to recognise the scale of their defeat and of their problems.

But what Rupiah is not telling them is that he contributed greatly to their loss of power. It is Rupiah's personal poor performance that got them out of power.

As president of the Republic and leader of the MMD, Rupiah was increasingly being associated with the most disagreeable messages and thoughts. He was seen to be corrupt and to be a defender of corruption and the corrupt. Soon after Rupiah became president, he brought back Frederick Chiluba into the MMD fold. But what Rupiah forgot is that the Zambian people supported everything Levy Mwanawasa was doing to Chiluba and his corruption. Whereas Levy decided to prosecute Chiluba and his friends for their corruption, Rupiah decided to free them from going to jail. And whereas Levy's government made efforts to recover what Chiluba and his friends had stolen from the Zambian people, Rupiah made sure they kept their loot. And the Zambian people were watching all this.

And whereas Levy tried to bring sanity to the politics of our country, Rupiah sunk them to the lowest depths. The Zambian people decided to kick out Rupiah and the MMD from power because of their bad politics. They launched a campaign of malice, calumny, lies, defamation against Michael Sata and those they thought were key in supporting him. We had the Chanda Chimba campaign on television and in other state-owned media which they controlled to defame, humiliate, malign those they hated. Today, these institutions are paying huge sums of money to individuals they defamed and maligned.

Some of the individuals close to Chiluba who were sent to jail for corruption under the Levy reign became the friends and supporters of Rupiah. And some of these elements have continued their campaign of malice, lies, calumny against Michael and those they believe to be his friends. One such example is Richard Sakala, who was sent to jail for corruption and lost all the appeals he made in the higher courts.

Today, Richard Sakala, a corruption convict, is running a newspaper whose only discernible preoccupation is to malign, defame Michael and those he believes helped send him to jail. And he is doing this in absolute freedom, with no arrests. Imagine if what Sakala publishes in his newspaper about Michael was done to Rupiah when he was president! Where would Richard Sakala be today? Clearly, there is more tolerance and civility in the conduct of public affairs than there was under Rupiah and the MMD.

It is important for Rupiah's friends like Richard Sakala to accept that their party, the MMD, is no longer in power because of the bad way they conducted themselves. And if they don't change, they will never get back to power.

And it is important for the new leaders of the MMD to distance themselves from Rupiah's conduct that cost the MMD power. But we still have elements in the MMD who want to pretend that all was okay with Rupiah and he lost power simply because of the lies that were told against him by Michael and his supporters. Rupiah lost power because he was corrupt and intolerant and was leading a corrupt and intolerant political party. And this is not difficult to prove. We say it without malice and we can prove it. We said it before Rupiah lost power, when he was still president of the Republic. And we are saying it again today.

If the MMD is to see a reversal of political fortunes, it has to distance itself from that past - the past that marries the corruption and abuses of the Rupiah and the Chiluba regimes. This is the past Rupiah exalts. And this is the past Rupiah wants the MMD to hold on to. But this is the past that cost the MMD power. Rupiah doesn't exalt the MMD of Levy; he exalts the MMD of Chiluba. This is not accidental. It is simply because Rupiah had something in common with Chiluba - corruption. This is why when Rupiah became president, he tried very hard to undo everything Levy had done on the corruption fight and reinstate the Chiluba order.

The MMD has some good people. But they don't seem to be resolute and courageous in facing up to the current problems of their party. They don't what to recognise and accept that their party lost power because of Rupiah and Chiluba's corruption and intolerance. None of the new leaders of the MMD is ready to stand up and publicly denounce that past and disassociate themselves from it. And herein lies their greatest challenge to the reversal of their party's poor political standing.
There is still a very strong distaste for Chiluba and Rupiah in this country. There are some elements in the opposition who used to think if they embrace Chiluba, then Luapula would not go to Michael and the Patriotic Front. Rupiah and the MMD lost Luapula with Chiluba's support. The people of Luapula did not vote for Rupiah on account of him being Chiluba's friend. Even the closest lieutenants of Chiluba lost in Luapula. Rupiah did not win even in Chiluba's own village. This just goes to show how much the Zambian people detested Rupiah and his friend Chiluba - even in death.

Rupiah is right in advising MMD members to remain united. But what type of unity is Rupiah calling for in the MMD when most of those who were very close to him are today much more closer to UPND? Who took them to UPND?

And what type of unity can exist in a political party with so many irreconcilable contradictions? What type of unity can one forge between the corrupt members of MMD and the honest ones? Yes, the impact of disunity upon MMD is clear to see. But for unity to exist, there has to be a common purpose. And a common purpose is fundamental to the MMD's prospects. If they don't sort this out, they stand no chance of being re-elected.

Trying to continue the same campaign against Michael and his friends, which in the first place cost them the 2011 elections, will not do. New strategies, tactics and campaign issues are required. A new MMD manifesto may also be needed. Michael didn't win by accident or default but because of his talent for capturing the public mood. The MMD should learn from that. The MMD needs patience and principles. With principles, opportunities will arise and their time may come again.

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