Sunday, July 27, 2014

MMD bouncing back
By Editor
Thu 23 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Michael Kaingu, opposition MMD's vice-president for politics, says his party "will never bounce back to power if it remains uncleansed from its previous deeds". We agree.

Kaingu says there is no way the MMD could ever think of getting back to power on the same precedent it campaigned in 2011.

"The people of Zambia truly rejected us in 2011 for several reasons and I think one of them was the perception of corruption. The other one was the perception of arroganceā€¦"

It is good that some key leaders of MMD like Kaingu are starting to recognise the scale of their defeat and of their problem.

Although not everyone in the MMD was corrupt, the public perception was of corruption and unfitness for public service. They cannot dismiss this perception as a mere false one. It must be appreciated as a deeply felt distaste, rather than a momentary irritation. There was indeed corruption in the MMD. And it is this corruption that has led to a number of their parliamentary seats being nullified. It is also their corruption that has landed their leader, Rupiah Banda, and his son in court.

Such distasteful perceptions can endure and do damage to the MMD's political prospects for a very long time.

It is good that the new leadership of MMD is starting to pick up courage and face these issues head on and deal with them. But there are still some in MMD who are trying very hard to defend what cannot be defended - the corruption of Rupiah and those close to him. There are those who have difficulties even admitting that their party conducted a very corrupt election campaign in 2011 which is today costing it parliamentary seats in election petitions. Instead of accepting blame and accepting the consequences of their corruption, they try to blame the court for the loss of their corruptly obtained parliamentary seats.

And this is a political party that still sends leaders and cadres to court to support the corrupt, to defend corruption. And it is also a political party whose president, Nevers Mumba, is facing corruption charges in our courts of law. How do they expect to regain public trust with all this?

People certainly need a rest from them, and they need time to reflect and listen and come to understand what went wrong with their conduct. They certainly need to do a lot about themselves. They need a better and different leadership from that of Rupiah and probably even of Nevers. They need better and different organisation. They need to spread their appeal and attract different sorts of people.

They also need to get straight the core beliefs of their party that seem to have been lost along the way. They need to take a fresh look at the new circumstances.

If they follow what Kaingu is saying, we are confident that the MMD will renew itself. If they don't, they can forget it and rest in peace.
But all this requires patience. They need to bide their time in the opposition patiently. They need to show that they are positive people and are patriots who want to see their country move forward, with or without them in power. They should not be tempted in any way to look to defeat the Patriotic Front on the back of national failure.

They should start taking pride in being honest, of having the public spirit and the honesty to discuss publicly their errors. If they do that on all levels, it will strengthen them, it will make them more powerful. It will make the people's faith in them renewed. Why? This is because of the fact that by admitting their errors, their mistakes, their transgressions, they stand a better chance to correct them. And the fact that they know how to make corrections will give their party renewed prestige. It will give them all the strength which political parties have when they know how to purify themselves of evils, when they know how to correct their errors, when they know how to overcome their difficulties.

There is a lot the Patriotic Front can learn from the forthright approach being exhibited by Kaingu. "We are not saying that we shall remain the MMD that the people of Zambia rejected. Everybody can see that there has been corruption in MMD and there is still corruption in PF," says Kaingu.

It is said that admitting a mistake, an error, a weakness is the first step to solving it. The seriousness of purpose of a political party is measured, basically, by the attitude it takes towards its own errors. Of course, political opponents are always alert to know the mistakes or errors you have made. But when errors are made and are not subjected to self-criticism, political opponents take advantage of them. When errors are made and are subjected to self-criticism, they may be used by opponents, but in a very different way. This is so because in the former case, the errors would not be corrected and in the latter, they would be. That's why it is important to take a forthright and serious attitude toward own errors.

There is no need to keep on denying charges of corruption when everyone knows how corrupt the MMD in government was. Equally, it will be important for the Patriotic Front to take an early stock take on issues of corruption. It cannot be denied that there is corruption among some Patriotic Front ministers. Last week's revelations about the way business enterprises connected, in one way or the other, to former defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba monopolised contracts from the Zambia National Service tell a big story about corruption in the Patriotic Front government.

There is need to thoroughly investigate how business was transacted at the Zambia Air Force and Zambia Army. It may also be necessary to thoroughly probe the operations of the Ministry of Home Affairs given the questionable contracts business enterprises connected to Mwamba were given supply contracts to some prisons. We don't think these things were only happening to Mwamba. A probe of all ministries may reveal some corruption that may need to be dealt with immediately.

If these things are not addressed now, soon or later, the Patriotic Front will have to pay a similar political price to that the MMD is footing today.

Change is needed at every stage of a political party's life. Political parties that don't change die. For a political party and its leaders, change is an important part of gaining the nation's trust.

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