By POTIPHER TEMBO –
DESPITE a number of campaign promises the United Party for National Development (UPND) has fulfilled since coming into power in 2021, some opposition political party leaders are concentrating more on accusing the government of having failed and that it should be voted out of power sooner than the five years mandate.
According to the constitution, a political party which has been voted into power has the mandate of ruling for at least a five-year-term until the next elections when the electorates have the power to either retain or vote it out depending on its performance.
Before the multi-party democracy, Zambia was ruled by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) led by founding father and late, Dr Kenneth Kaunda for 27 years until the coming of the multiparty democracy initiated by the second republican president the late Dr Fredrick Chiluba whose party – the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) – ruled for a good 20 years after coming to power in 1991.
The MMD was voted out from power in 2011 by the Patriotic Front (PF) party led by late King Cobra, Michael Chilufya Sata who reigned as fifth republican president after ousting fourth republican president MMD’s Rupiah Bwezani Banda.
After the death of Mr Sata, the PF government continued to rule the country under the leadership of Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu until August, 2021, when he was ejected from power by Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s UPND.
Since Zambia earned her independence from her colonial master, Britain on October, 24, 1964, the country has been ruled by five political parties forming government democratically through elections.
After losing the elections, ruling parties succeeded by opposition parties have not come back to power despite their leaders fighting tooth and nail trying to convince the electorate that they had rebranded and would redeem the country once voted back into power.
After losing to MMD in 1991, UNIP promised that it had seen where it had gone wrong and given another chance to rule, it would bring more development to the nation which it ruled for a historical 27 years.
In all fairness, many Zambians will remember that Dr Kaunda’s UNIP government brought a lot of development and infrastructure some of which are still standing up to now such as educational and health facilities.
However, despite ruling for 27 years as a one-party state, Kaunda’s UNIP had to leave at one time or another.
After UNIP’s departure from power came the MMD.
The ‘hour has come’ will also be fondly remembered by many people who supported its policies including the ordinary citizens who benefitted from the sale of council houses through the order by Dr Chiluba to the councils to sell the houses to the sitting tenants.
But despite the hour having come, there had to come a time when Zambians had to become tired of the MMD’s shortcomings and they had to vote them out of power.
After ruling for 20 years, the MMD government which was by then led by Mr Banda was disgorged from power.
Although accepting defeat, the party assured the people that it had learnt a lesson accusing its leadership of having failed the people and it had to rebrand to seek a second chance to rule the nation.
There were many in-fights in the party with some leaders hijacking power and promising the electorate that it had rebranded and once voted again in government, it would correct the situation.
It will also be remembered that some MMD members openly made it known that they would stand for the presidency of their party at the convention.
Despite arm twisting and pull and push amongst themselves, the electorate did not vote back the MMD into power.
From being a ruling party, MMD succumbed to PF even gaining a third position after Edith Nawakwi’s FDD.
Even in the last elections, UNIP and MMD were not anywhere nearer being voted back to power. The PF was bundled out of power by UPND after ruling for 10 years and like UNIP and MMD, the party is sure of bouncing back to government because, according to them, they have learnt the wrongs they made and they have apologized to the people and are asking them to give them another chance to rule.
Recently, PF media director, Munalula Moola said Zambians were pushing the ‘alebwelelapo (he will come back) agenda because the UPND government which was claiming to be wiser and more intelligent than the PF leadership of Mr Lungu has actually failed to provide leadership but has instead plunged the country into serious poverty.
Mr Moola claimed that the reality on the ground was that the popularity of the ruling party was diminishing at a fast rate while the PF was becoming popular on the ground.
He said it was shameful that the New Dawn administration of HH which promised a better future of the youths has lamentably failed to fulfil its promises but was instead using the youths for political violence.
North-Western Province PF youth chairperson Amnion Hara had predicted that the former ruling party will bounce back to power in 2026.
Addressing the youths who gathered at the party office in Solwezi, Mr Hara said the party in the province is still intact despite being in opposition.
“2026, tulebwelelapo pantu PF iciliko kaili PF into yakosa,” (2026, we are coming back because PF is still around and PF is strong) said Mr Hara.
PF member of the Central Committee, Francis Musunga said the former ruling party was becoming stronger every day, saying the UPND is a failed project.
“The central committee remains committed to ensuring that come 2026, the former ruling party will once again form government. We remain focused because we have resolved to redeem the people of Zambia from UPND’s mess,” said Mr Musunga.
While many people in the opposition are blaming the UPND of having failed, many in the ruling party do not agree with this notion saying it was too early for the PF to judge the UPND as such.
“They are saying we have not honored our campaign promises, but they are not being honest. They were in power for 10 years but what did they do? Yes, they constructed some schools and some health facilities like clinics in some parts of the country, but did they employ some teachers to teach in these schools? Did they employ health workers to work in these health facilities?” wondered a Chingola UPND member, Johnson Mutale.
Mr Mutale said some of the campaign promises the party made have already been fulfilled in a short period of being in power.
“The UPND government has employed more than 30,000 teachers and more than 10,000 health workers among others in just a short time they have been in power. Some of the projects abandoned by the PF are being completed. The truth is that not all the promises could be fulfilled at once. Even them the PF made a lot of promises when they were in opposition, but did they fulfil all of them in the 10 years they had been in power? Now they want the UPND to do that in just a short time.
They are saying they will redeem the country when they are voted back to form government. PF is gone. It is finished. They plundered the country’s wealth and that is the end of them,” said Mr Mutale.
Southern Province UPND chairperson, Billard Makwembo added his voice when he said PF was a dead organization which the people of Zambia overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot and therefore no amount of rebranding or propaganda will make it bounce back to power.
Mr Makwembo said Zambians already made up their minds never again to retain PF to power because it abused the mandate they were given from 2011 to 2021.
He said the UPND was not bothered by the PF propaganda against president Hichilema and his administration because it was only meant to deceive the people that the government was not living to its promises when the opposite was the truth.
“PF had committed a lot of atrocities against the people of Zambia and it is too early for the former ruling party to start thinking of rebranding and bouncing back to power especially at a time when the New Dawn administration is rebuilding the nation,” said Mr Mukwembo.
A former MMD Member of Parliament who declined to be named advised the PF to provide constructive criticisms and checks and balances instead of the party concentrating on the bid to bounce back to power which he said was not possible.
“The party has a lot of problems. There are in-house fights and currently there are nine of its members who want to become the party’s president. They will be more disorganised after the convention and they will have nothing to say,” said the former law maker.