Thursday, May 29, 2014

Frustrations within PF
By Editor
Thu 09 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Truly, "2013 was a year which tested the foundation and ideals" of the Patriotic Front since its establishment in 2001. And as Patriotic Front secretary general Wynter Kabimba says, "It was a transformative year in that the party moved from being in opposition into a party in government and the major challenge in this transformation had been widespread expectations from both members of the party and the general public."

Many things were hoped for, were expected with the Patriotic Front in government. And given Michael Sata's delivery record, many people within the Patriotic Front and outside it developed wild expectations. They thought things would change overnight. Patriotic Front cadres, as Wynter correctly observes, "expected rewards in form of employment because of the massive discrimination they suffered under the MMD, which had cultivated an extensive culture of patronage".

And, again as Wynter says, "Outside the party, the public expected delivery of services on the basis of its campaign promises." But we all know that there is no instant coffee solution to our massive problem of poverty and unemployment. We are in for a long haul. Things will change, will improve but not overnight.

The mistake that was made was not to tell their cadres and our people in general that their lives won't instantly change simply because Michael and the Patriotic Front are in government. Their cadres thought they would all get jobs in government and other institutions connected to government. But they should have been told that government institutions don't belong to their party; they belong to all the people regardless of their political affiliations and all are entitled to jobs in these institutions purely on the basis of merit. They should have also been told that the Patriotic Front in government would not continue the patronage of the MMD.

And as they told the people what they would do, they should also have told them what they would not do. Life doesn't change that way.
There has been growing frustration among Patriotic Front members and cadres at all levels, who feel they have not been rewarded for their contributions, for their efforts. These feelings are legitimate but government affairs are not managed in that way. It is not a question of sharing spoils after an election victory.

The Patriotic Front cadres may be able to run their party on their own but they cannot run government on their own. Therefore, their disappointment and frustration has to be managed. And discipline calls for this. Their disappointment and frustration should be a temporary feeling, which they can get over by involving themselves in positive activities and attitudes. It is not easy to remain disappointed and frustrated if one is busy with constructive things.

There is need for discipline. And discipline is not about things one likes or is happy with. Discipline is about behaving well in situations in which one is not happy, is not comfortable. It is about handling well situations that one does not like. And this is why discipline is the most powerful weapon for progress. The Patriotic Front can only carry out its mandate if there is discipline, and where there is no discipline, there can be no real progress. Those who are ready to join hands in a disciplined way can overcome the greatest challenges.

There is still a long way to go. There is still a lot of work for the Patriotic Front to do. Those who thought by simply winning the 2011 elections, they had arrived, are mistaken because after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. It is said that many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountain tops of our desires. It is also said that the struggle is not for the strong but for those who can endure.

We urge Patriotic Front cadres to draw strength from the unity which they had forged in their campaigns against the MMD and together grasp the opportunities and realise the vision enshrined in their 2011 election manifesto. This is the only way they can carry on their revolution and transform their lives and their country forever. This is the true meaning of the Patriotic Front revolution they promised themselves and the Zambian people, which is in reality and in truth a growth in their confidence as ordinary people to transform their country and thus transform themselves. It is a growth in the appreciation of people organising, deciding, creating together. It is a growth of fraternal love.

And when we speak of disappointment and frustration, we speak of the disappointed and frustrated persons within what the Patriotic Front is trying to do, not against what it is trying to do; to improve the transformation, not to destroy it; to make it stronger, not to liquidate it as the case is with declarations made by Geoffrey Mwamba in Kasama to wipe out the party's influence in that area. That is the difference, the radical difference that exists between those who are disappointed and frustrated within the party but still are committed to its work, policies and programmes, and those who, like Mwamba, are ready to destroy it when they are not able to get from it or through it what they want or desire.

Anyway, such elements do not understand that great transformations are irreversible, that they march on despite the errors and deficiencies of men. This is because they are superior to men. When such transformations involve the work, the efforts and the lives of millions of human beings, they are superior to everything; they are invincible. That's why the Patriotic Front cadres and leaders have to realise that they are promoting and carrying on transformations, work that is greater than themselves. Naturally, this is what the liars try to keep from the people, the tremendous power of great social transformations.

Nobody claims or should claim that what is being done is perfect no matter how much effort they devote to trying to make things turn out in the best possible way. Only life itself will be able to tell us where the shortcomings are and which aspects leave something to be desired. But those involved in the political leadership of our country must always be able to improve the instruments they have established.

The Patriotic Front needs to seriously improve on its 2013 performance if it is to deliver to its cadres' and our people's expectations or desires. But this will require strong organisation, loyalty and discipline from its general membership.

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