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Politics in Zambia

Politics in Zambia

Democracy is an all-encompassing word used to describe the political state of modern times. More or less democracy describes a political state in which fully fledged parliamentary legality flourishes and political parties come to power through the ballot box. The art of constitutional government as we know and practice it in Zambia is derived from British colonialism (parliamentary democracy). But parliamentary democracy is not a static condition – political constitutions have been revised in Africa day in and day out to suit respective political parties that may happen to be in power. In Zambia the ruling MMD has been experimenting to revise the current political constitution, in a move aimed to make it impossible for opposition leader Michael Sala to stand for the 2011 presidential election.

It is the case in Zambia today that the methods of political change are fraught with many difficulties – chief among these is the regional fragmentation of voting patterns, i.e. people still vote on tribal allegiances. Zambian politics is heavily influenced by political charisma. The first president Dr. Kenneth Kaunda was a charismatic leader and still remained a flamboyant personality. Charismatic politicians have a propensity to capture public worship either through making articulate speeches or wearing fine suits. Both Kaunda and Chiluba had a gift of making inspiring speeches and a flair for clean and smart clothes. Chiluba is said to have possessed two hundred pairs of shoes worth hundreds of dollars per pair.

Both Kaunda and Chiluba had the gift to foresee what the masses’ feelings were and used to take advantage of a given moment by seemingly voicing those feelings. And it became very problematic for many ordinary Zambians to rally behind the late president Levy Mwanawasa, who lacked a magnetic personality and was a poor speech-maker. Indeed, the current president, Rupiah Banda lacks a political flair for publicity and lacks a flair for speech making.

Freedom for expression in Zambia has been conceived in wrong terms. It has meant incessant political criticism of ruling government in methods likely to provoke political violence. We in the WSM abhor the methods of political criticism that is spearheaded by the PF and UPND because they border on intimidating certain individuals instead of offering an alternative system against the existing status quo (capitalism). Political demagogy by itself is not an antidote to unemployment and inflation. The problems of human rights, gender equality and freedom of expression will not exist in socialism because a socialist will entail the actual embodiment of political and gender emancipation.

The failure of any political party in England to win an outright parliamentary majority during the May general election was resolved in an amicable manner with the Conservatives and Liberals forming a coalition government. In most African countries such an election result would have given rise to political violence.

KEPHAS MULENGA