ANALYSIS: ROBBIE MUSAKUZI
LOOKING at the events that have befallen the UPND since the August 11, 2016 general elections, it is now evident and incumbent upon the intellectuals in the party to quickly come together and save the political party from the self-destructive path that some members have taken, which is causing the majority of Zambians to start wondering what is happening within the party.
It is now very clear that some very prominent members of the party are now saying and doing things that even the founding father of the party, the late Anderson Mazoka (MHSRIP), would not agree with if he were still alive.
The late Mazoka, founding father and president of UPND, was a great Zambian patriot and an intellectual throughout his life. As an accomplished intellectual, the late Mazoka graduated from Union College in the USA in 1969 with a first class Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Mazoka’s faculty advisor as a student, Dick Shanebrook, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering in a 2002 interview remembered and described his former student as “personable, friendly and very persistent”. While at Union College as a student, Mazoka designed and built a wind tunnel in just 10 weeks for his senior thesis.
The project attracted media attention in the USA because of the size of the tunnel, which filled a large room in the basement of the School of Science and Engineering and the tunnel was used for more than three decades by students and faculty.
As an intellectual-turned-politician, he garnered nationwide attention and support in the 2001 general elections as president of the main opposition United Party for National Development but narrowly lost to President Levy Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party, collecting 27 percent of the vote.
He unsuccessfully sought to have the results overturned by the country’s Supreme Court, alleging corruption and ballot-stuffing but accepted the Supreme court ruling and outcome and continued with his humble life as a law abiding Zambian citizen respecting those in authority until his death.
It is for this reason that many well-meaning Zambians are calling for the intellectuals in the UPND to preserve the legacy of this great son of Zambia by resisting those UPND zealots who are now selfishly trying to drive party into self-destruction mode and putting the peace and security which Zambians have enjoyed since independence at risk.
The problems facing the UPND as a political party since the August 11, 2016 general elections is not from outside but from inside the party. It is being created by some fanatical and uncompromising members who are trying to practice populist ‘tufilile munsenga’ type of politics that is not acceptable by the majority of well-meaning Zambian throughout the country.
It is these UPND members that the UPND intellectuals must now confront and say enough is enough and that it is time to preserve the legacy of the founding father of UPND Anderson Mazoka, whom when faced with a similar situation in 2001 looked at the bigger picture of the party and the nation rather a selfish, parochial and narrow picture of the nation. It is this mature approach to politics by the late Mazoka that has caused the UPND as a party to exist up to today, many years after his death.
He did not allow the loss of the elections in 2001 to define the party and the nation, which is in total contrast to what the current leadership is doing.
The intellectuals in the UPND must realise that it is now a year since the memorable August 11, 2016 general elections and by now, the opposition political parties should have started giving us the alternative vision of Zambia they would like to come and create after 2021 general elections. But alas, all what the Zambian people are getting from the opposition political party zealots is the same narrative of wishful thinking, innuendoes, arrogance and half-truths about the state of the nation.
It is in this vein that the majority of Zambians are now calling upon the intellectuals in the UPND to start appealing to the majority of UPND members that there are a lot of positives to be derived from the results of the August 11, 2016 general elections and the UPND as an opposition political party has a future in Zambia. This is the thinking that is in tandem with the majority of Zambians and multi-party democracy.
The intellectuals in UPND must start thinking strategically and begin putting in place strategic plans for the survival of the party beyond its current predicament and in readiness for the August 11, 2021 elections.
The author is an International Associate at the African Centre for Disaster Studies.