Columnists

Why presidential losing candidates should have limited chances

PAUL Moonga.

Analysis: PAUL MOONGA
TODAY, I have decided to write on a strange and thought-provoking topic of whether a presidential candidate should have a limitless number of times to contest the presidency in the country.

Is it right for a candidate to fail to win elections for more than three times and still continue as candidate? I believe no.
There are several dangers of having one person attempting to contest the presidency without success. Firstly, the current arrangement proscribes that a candidate should bring about 200 registered voters from every province of the country to show national character.
Surprisingly, candidates have a limitless number of opportunities to fail which I find to be absolutely absurd.
I know someone out there will say this is democracy, but the show of character should not just be limited to ability to mobilise 200 supporters from every province. This can open to abuse by way of using candidacy to raise funds from donors for personal gain.
It must be realised that candidates eventually begin to have the confidence of some donors, but if they are unable to win an election after, say, five attempts, then who is the real beneficiary of the donor funding?
At that stage, the beneficiary is the individual contesting the election and not the political party he represents.
Secondly, a perpetual candidate is a serious danger to national security. The lust for power can motivate such a person mobilise illegality in order to win power.
Any genuine political analyst would agree that coming close to winning for too long has the capacity to make such a candidate use underhand methods to win power.
In fact, change in faces of candidates has the potential to make a struggling political party win polls. I believe so because at times what wins elections is the personality of a candidate and how likeable he is in the eyes of the voters.
The late Michael Sata is a good example of a candidate who used both personality and policies to win the elections.
President Edgar Chagwa Lungu also used a larger portion of his posture, liking and persona to win the 2015 and 2016 presidential elections.
Let us face it, sometimes voters can simply compare the looks of the candidates to vote for or against the candidate.
That is why many candidates the world over invest heavily in graphic propaganda to win polls. Voters will simply look at the pictures of candidates and then make a decision.
It has also been proved over time that perpetual candidates increase the amount of arrogance with time because they are always smelling power which does not come forth.
If this law was introduced in Zambia, it would actually help even the opposition to try other candidates who could probably win polls for the benefit of their parties.
It is also good for intra-party democracy as leaders of the political parties keep on changing.
That progressive concept of changing leaders eventually becomes a culture, unlike the present situation where intra-party elections only take place when a leader chooses and after assessing that he will not have credible challengers.
In this case, it is a call on members of Parliament from both the opposition and the ruling party to consider this proposal on merit and avoid being influenced by political alienation.
Zambians need to know that even the Patriotic Front (PF), for which I am a humble servant, has a presidential candidate who would equally be barred from contesting presidency more than five times if the law was introduced.
So there is no selfish motive in this proposal, but it is born out of a genuine desire to improve the apparatus of our democracy.
The next question will be: why should Zambia be first to pioneer such a law?
My response will be that there is nothing wrong with being a pioneer of something which is good.
If the world will like our concept, big nations will follow.
Let us all rise above partisanship and rally behind what is good.
The author is Member of Central Committee (MCC) for the Patriotic Front.

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