THE continued leadership wrangles in Zambia’s largest opposition political party, the Patriotic Front (PF), are bad for the growth of Zambia’s democracy which has been growing steadily since the country’s return to a multiparty dispensation in 1990.
After serving as Zambia’s ruling party for 10 years, the PF was supposed to have turned itself into a strong voice offering credible checks and balances to the governing United Party for National Development (UPND).
Two years after losing power, the PF should, by now, have picked up its pieces and re-organised itself in readiness for mounting a stiff challenge to the UPND in the 2026 general elections.
However, with the current confusion and infighting within the PF, things are beginning to look bleak as there appears no proper direction as various camps clamour for the leadership of the PF.
But this is hardly surprising as the PF has, for years, been known to thrive on confusion and undemocratic tendencies which make free-thinkers unwelcome.
One other common character of the PF is a lack of respect for the party’s own constitution.
What is currently happening in the PF between the Miles Sampa faction on one side and the Given Lubinda-Raphael Nakachinda camp on the other, is just a reflection of what the PF has been known for.
In 2014, following President Michael Sata’s demise, a fierce battle for the leadership of the PF ensued between Mr Sampa and the then party secretary general Edgar Lungu leading to some violent clashes between the supporters of the two aspirants.
It is sad to note that during that clash, some members of the two “warring” camps who were caught up in the fracas were seriously injured while others ended up in hospital for medical attention. Property worth colossal sums of money was also damaged.
Even worse was the manner in which the party president Mr Lungu was elected at the Mulungushi Rock of Authority in Kabwe.
It is worth mentioning that the PF held two elective general conferences, with one electing Mr Sampa and the other going for Mr Lungu.
Besides, in Mr Lungu’s case, there was not even the casting of ballots as he was elected through a mere show of hands.
So, confusion has been a part of the PF’s DNA and the ongoing wrangles are, to a large extent, a creation of Mr Lungu.
Because of his apparent desire to run for the country’s presidency in 2026, Mr Lungu has shown no willingness to step aside and let the PF choose his successor.
Two years after losing the 2021 presidential election, Mr Lungu has maintained his position as PF president and yet he should, by now, have bade farewell to active politics.
It took former president Rupiah Banda only six months to step down as Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) president after losing the September 2011 elections and he was even available to hand over to the new party president Nevers Mumba upon his election.
In the case of Mr Lungu, we are seeing a man who is stubborn, not willing to heed advice from well-meaning Zambians for him to do away with politics and handover to fresh blood.
What is mind boggling is the fact that Mr Lungu knows beyond reasonable doubt that he stands no chance in hell of bouncing back as president of this country.
In other words, his chances are zero.
Mr Lungu is also behaving like a tick willing to go down in the grave and be buried together with the carcass even when the blood in the carcass has stopped flowing.
What a shame!
Many observers and well-wishers want Mr Lungu to take a back seat, relax and start enjoying his well-earned retirement perks with his family in peace and tranquillity.
That is what statesmen do.
So, whatever is making Mr Lungu stick to the PF presidency can only be best explained by himself.
In trying to do himself a favour, Mr Lungu is destroying the PF, and the current happenings in the former ruling party should be laid squarely on his head.
Yes, we are cognisant of the fact that power is sweet, but this gargantuan appetite for power will definitely leave the former ruling party in disarray, if not already in disarray.
The PF will soon be like sheep without a shepherd.
Eventually, several PF members across the nation will jump off mubwato (boat) and join other progressive parties that have a vision.
In short, Mr Lungu is to blame for the chaos in the PF.