Columnists Features

‘Leaving a political party can be devastating’

DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
USUALLY, defections is the order of the day on the Zambian political scene. This move is common prior to or after elections.
Depending on the political mood, it is uncommon to see people move either from the ruling party to the opposition depending on who is being favoured to win the elections.
The post-election period can worse because some members who had left and demonised their parties flock back seeking ‘forgiveness and a second chance.’
Though it has almost become a regular practice, the trend is frowned upon and it has raised questions on the genuineness of the defectors.
The August 11 election is not an exception. However to counter this, the ruling PF is trying to set a trend to deter members that want to be members only when all is smooth sailing. It has come up with procedural requirements.
Last weekend, party secretary general Davies Mwila issued a statement affirming what is stated in the PF constitution regards party members who resigned and are seeking readmission.
The decision to put a three year ban on readmission was arrived at during a PF central committee meeting held on October 1, 2016 and chaired by Party President Edgar Lungu.
The party is now invoking the provisions of its constitution to prove its position on those who seek to rejoin.
It was during this meeting that it was emphasised that the provisions of the PF constitution regarding re-admission of ‘Lost but found’ members will be adhered to.
“An article in the PF constitution, article 74 sub-article 16 states and we quote: ‘A person who resigns from the party shall not apply for readmission within three years from the date of resignation,’ end of quote. Therefore all former members that desire to rejoin PF are expected to comply with this constitutional provision,” he said.
The jostling and repositioning of political cadres during the pre and post-election period regarding ideology is worrying.
Some people just wonder what has happened to ideology. Anyone observing the political scene in Zambia and Africa is bound to conclude that political ideology is dead.
But with the trend set by PF, many people hope that ‘political prostitutes’ will take a second thought before making their move.
Lusaka resident David Chilikwela says the move is an important one not only to members of the PF but all politicians as it will stop people from aimless jostling.
“The move is timely and this is to advise that you cannot change party ideologies as you wish. I hope people can take a leaf from this and learn,” Mr Chilikwela said.
Mr Chilikwela feels that leaving a political party can be momentous and above all devastating.
It means leaving behind friends and a social life that revolves around intense companionship.
“But much as the situation can be desperate, people should make decisions to permanently leave a political party for another and not think of coming back once they have run out of money,” Mr Chilikwela said.
Another Lusaka resident Peggy Mutwale said, “the defections in Zambian politics are mainly because most politics today are ‘bread and butter’ issues or, if you like, ‘stomach infrastructure’ people. And the move taken by the ruling party is the right one,” Ms Mutwale said.
Ms Mutwale said the defections are not justified because a political leader must stand for something.
“So, when a politician ditches his party, he renounces all that he stood for over the years. Surely such an act brings embarrassment to the politics of any country. I am hoping the trend will change with the three year ban that will be implemented in PF and it is my hope that others will emulate the PF,” she said.
Much as some people many condemn the defections and rejoining of original political parties, others support the decision to do so.
Their justifications are based on the various reasons.
“We are not surprised at all by the defections in major political parties in the country. It is a trend that has been with us in our politics. People jump from one political party to another for personal reasons and once they decide to get back to the previous party, they should not be condemned to death like the case is here in Zambia,” Pelekani Zulu, of Lusaka’s Kaunda Square area said.
Except for committed and ideologically positioned politicians, the tendency is to gravitate towards the party in power at state or national level.
Mr Zulu added, “Some people may say the defections are slowly killing the opposition political parties, but this is not true because we have people who leave the ruling party to join the opposition.”
Not only the PF now, but all the previous ruling parties have always been the destination of choice for political nomads.
But under the current rules for those in the ruling party, political nomadism is a thing of the past.
Ideology-based politics and principles are needed in Zambian politics to help curb political nomadism.
It is hoped that the admission procedures put up by the ruling party will help deal with a crop of politicians who seem mindful of their private interests than the interest of society, and their driving force is how to capture state power for private gains.

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