You are currently viewing Appoint shadow MPs in opposition constituencies

Appoint shadow MPs in opposition constituencies

THE United Party for National Development (UPND) leadership’s instruction to ban their members of Parliament from attending government functions is now a clear indication that the opposition party does not seem to understand and appreciate the age-old and biblical principle that ‘there is time for everything’.
To instruct or ban UPND members of Parliament from attending government functions is belligerent behaviour from the major opposition that defies all common wisdom. This ban is also sending a wrong signal to ordinary UPND members to oppose the government of the day in every way possible. The UPND leadership must read and appreciate what the Bible says: ‘Listen! Wisdom is calling out in the streets and marketplaces, calling loudly at the city gates and wherever people come together.’ (Proverbs 1: 20-21)
Wisdom and logic dictate that there is time for everything; time for politicking, time for campaigns, time for development and time to take stock of your abilities. This is the time for development and time for political party re-organisation, realignment, countrywide post-mortem of the 2016 general elections and consolidation of party organisation structures across the country. This is not the time to start fighting the ruling party and the will of the people but time for consultation on how to move the UPND popularity from three to 10 provinces in readiness for the August 2021 general elections.
To continue fighting the ruling party in this season will only consolidate the resolve of those that see the UPND as a regional and tribal party not worth being given sympathy and national leadership. Moreover, to start fighting now will lead to loss of momentum, energy and resources which will be required later on in 2021.
And at the end of the day, the innocent people in the constituencies under the UPND will lose out in national development and will not follow correctly national issues because a lot of things happen at a government function.
As for the PF, the UPND banning of their members of Parliament from attending government functions should be a blessing in disguise to ask the grass roots in all the opposition constituencies to help elect or choose credible men and women who are PF members to act as shadow members of Parliament.
The concept of shadow MPs is used worldwide and it is a pity that it has not been developed in Zambia’s multi-party democracy. Shadow MPs represent the ruling or opposition party in those constituencies where they have no official representation at that level.
Faced with a belligerent opposition, the PF must not even waste its time but to come up with official shadow members of Parliament who, when called upon, should even attend government functions. The shadow MPs can even act as an official link between the people and the government of the day in the opposition constituencies.
And by all means the shadow MP must be individuals who reside permanently in the opposition constituencies and in case there is a by-election or at the next parliamentary election, they should be given priority to stand for elections. The behaviour by the UPND leadership should not even be a threat to democracy in Zambia because they have made it clear of what they really stand for as a political party and it is up to the PF to be innovative and strengthen the party in the opposition strongholds.
The idea of the shadow MPs will in a way even discourage the independent candidates from standing as MPs and causing confusion at the grass-roots level. Most of the PF members who stood as independent candidates and won in the August 2016 general elections had been acting as shadow members of Parliament and were with the people in the constituencies at all times and rendering help where the MP was an absentee landlord.
The opposition political parties also have MPs who rarely visit their constituencies but still won the elections in the August 2016 general elections. If the PF identifies credible shadow MPs in opposition constituencies, it is most likely the ruling party can easily come and win elections in the so-called opposition strongholds because many Zambians are really getting to understand what the UPND leadership wants for this country.
As for the civil servants in the opposition strongholds who have continued to be disloyal to the government of the day because of the remarks from the UPND leadership, and they are disregarding official government directives and policies and thereby frustrating the government of the day.
The question that should be asked is: where is the Secretary to the Cabinet, who implements the Service Commission regulations, procedures for employment and Disciplinary Code of Conduct for public service workers?
It is no wonder development eludes some African countries, because if individual civil servants can continue to frustrate national development because of political affiliation, then what is the relevance of the government of the day. It should not take political leaders to urge senior government officials to act on such individuals.
Zambia as an African country is trying to be as democratic as possible, and all over Africa every opposition party that loses elections first of all refuses to accept the election results and to recognise the winning president.
This is the legacy of multi-party democracy in Africa. But to maintain law and order, those given leadership and responsibility of managing the public service must weed out civil servants who want to derail development and democracy. After all, at the end of the day, it is the civil servants that make or break democracy and development in a country.
The author is an International Associate, African Centre for Disaster Studies.