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2016 should change our political landscape

AS THE August 11 general elections draw closer, political parties are sharpening their campaign messages to win votes.
On the other hand, electorates are keenly following the messages to see which candidate they can trust with their vote.
I have spent a couple of weeks interacting with various political players from the ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition United Party for National Development, Rainbow Party, the Forum for Democracy and Development, including some independent candidates contesting the 2016 elections at various levels.
The message from all the players is simple: the passion to serve the electorate.
This is the reason why when some people are not adopted, they exercise their freedom either to defect from the political party they loved so much and join even the sworn rivals.
That is being extreme, I say, although people have a democratic right to express themselves when they feel that their expectations have not been met.
And this kind of switch was rife this year where people were leaving their beloved parties to join parties they might have probably sworn never to align themselves with.
This is so true of those who switched between the Patriotic Front and the United Party for National Development given the bad blood between these two parties.
Who imagined Brian Ntundu, who religiously served the UPND for 15 years as a legislator for Gwembe, would change overnight to jump to the PF after not being adopted?
What about former Lusaka mayor Portipher Tembo who probably surprised even himself when crossing the floor from PF to UPND when he did not get the nod for the Chawama seat because the ruling party stuck with Lawrence Sichalwe?
In Lundazi, there is a clash of titans between former Works and Supply permanent secretary Bizwayo Nkunika and Evans Ngoma who fell out of the pecking order in the PF, which picked Minister of General Education John Phiri, who unfortunately did not file.
It is a similar scenario in Moomba constituency in Monze where Patson Moono who says he had been loyal to the UPND but was left out of the recent adoption process, opted to file as an independent.
In Kalomo, Smart Muwele, long-time considered as the successor to late Request Muntanga, has gone solo when the UPND, which he joined in 1998, offered the adoption certificate to Harry Kamboni.
Former Namuyanga councillor Muwele, who also served Kalomo District Council chairperson from 2001 to 2003, is now testing the waters as an independent in this UPND stronghold and fancies his chances.
When former Livingstone district commissioner Omar Munsanje was handed the mantle as the ruling party’s preferred parliamentary candidate for Livingstone constituency, Edwin Munyaule and Jorum Mwinde decided to stand as independents.
In Mwandi, Akalemwa Mukuka defected to the former ruling party, MMD when the UPND, the party he loves too much, adopted Mutaba Sililo.
As a result, Mukuka’s campaigners are fellow dis-satisfied UPND officials, some of whom fell out like him while others are constituency and district officials who are campaigning for Hakainde Hichilema.
In Sesheke, former MP Sianga Siyauya has turned his frustration against the UPND, the party that sponsored his passage to Parliament in 2011, by joining the PF campaign team.
This is a nationwide picture of political pitfalls.
It is clear that either the political parties made the right choices or were grossly misled by some structures.
Corruption cannot be ruled out in the adoption process, leading to anger by some candidates to the extent that they vowed to sell their souls to the devil just to fix their former parties.
Greed has also manifested in some individuals who think only they can represent people in particular areas.
Whatever the case, the passion to represent people qualitatively is evident. Political parties should critically revisit their adoption processes to make them more transparent so that outcomes of primaries are accepted by all.
The creative ‘sontapo’ slogan by the PF will also go a long way in grooming potential representatives of the people to show their selfless attitude before aspiring for public office.
Sontapo (point at what you have done) will from this year onwards become a national policy to guide citizens participation in community, village and national affairs.
With the various developmental gaps Zambia has, including social areas such as orphans, children living with disability, old people, street kids, soccer academies, community teams and churches, Zambians have an opportunity to ‘sontapo’ going forward.
Sontapo could also come in form of giving time, sharing food, clothes and talents.
Two-time United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955) once said those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
This is a most common aspect of human failings.
Political parties will do well to learn from Mr Churchill’s counsel and be wise with their adoptions – next time.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.