Do opposition political parties have a future?
Published On April 23, 2016 » 2512 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Features
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Beyond the news - KundaZAMBIA has been practicing multi-party politics for more than two decades now.
Since the shift from the one-party state regime to multi-partism in 1990, more and more political parties have sprung up with the aim of forming government.
At present, there are more than 18 political parties in Zambia including the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) which formed government in 2011.
The PF took over from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) which was in power from 1991, after taking over from the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
UNIP and MMD are still in existence and share the opposition floor along with other parties such as the United Party for National Development (UPND) which is currently regarded as the country’s biggest political party.
Other opposition political parties include Forum for Democracy andDevelopment (FDD), National Restoration Party (NAREP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Rainbow Party, Green Party and Fourth Revolution, to mention but a few.
MMD ruled Zambia for 20 years and in view of the forthcoming general elections in August this year, it can safely be concluded that the country has been ruled by only two political parties in the last 25 years.
This is a rather an ‘unexpected’ reality bearing in mind that Zambia is home to so many political parties which have the constitutional privilege of freedom of speech and expression.
The recently enacted Constitution has stipulated that general elections will be held over a period of five years on the second Thursday of every month of August. However, this is not the only requisite.
Whosoever the political parties field to contest the Republican Presidency, should have a running mate who will be automatically elected as the Republican Vice-President.
The winning presidential candidate will only be elected upon meeting avotes’ threshold of 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast.
Further, every presidential, running mate, parliamentarian, mayoral and ward candidate should possess a grade 12 school certificate or its equivalent upon adoption.
The political party should also produce 1,000 supporters, registered as voters on the day that the preferred presidential candidate will be filing in their nominations.
From the foregoing, the new Constitution is a knockout blow to certain politicians who have taken advantage of the prevailing democratic environment to form parties which ultimately have no chance of forming government.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and its flexibility is essential to the growth and strength of the opposition.
That is why the future of some opposition political parties in Zambia now lies in political alliances either all amongst themselves or with the ruling PF.
Amassing 50 per cent plus one of votes is a daunting task and has never been achieved in the elections that the country has held in recent times.
Mobilising and accommodating 1,000 supporters, from each of the 10 provinces, is also no easy task, let alone is finding candidates to adopt for the presidency, Parliament and the local authority.
At present, there is no opposition political party which is not complaining over failure to find enough candidates to be adopted on the basis of possessing a full grade 12 certificate.
In other instances, maybe, potential candidates who possess the required grade 12 school certificates may not be popular enough to mint a win for their political party.
It is inevitable that camps which do not find an alliance with the PF could team up and collectively challenge the incumbent Government to mint victory.
The new Constitution has, however, not spelled out the end to the birth of new political parties as people still enjoy the privileges availed by the country’s democratic status.
Leaders of the opposition, novice or existing should only ensure that they bring the right message to the fore and convince the people to vote for them on merit.
Precise manifesto formulation and articulation is key to sustaining the existence of any political party.
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