While some political parties are considering ganging up and contesting against PF as a single unit, the politicians leading these parties should understand that winning elections is not about coalitions.
Most opposition party leaders always fail to agree on who should lead such a coalition which is a direct result of egocentric styles of leadership and unfortunate feelings of entitlement without due consideration of leadership by posterity.
Recently, ADD President Charles Milupi called on opposition parties to consider forming an alliance ahead of the August 11 elections.
MMD and UPND expressed willingness to work with other opposition political parties in the forthcoming elections.
However, one would think, the issue of forming coalitions to wrestle power from the ruling PF is a manifestation of lack of ideas on the part of the opposition. Winning is not about coalitions, it is about crafting good programs that resonate with the wishes of the electorate.
Again, if one looks at the election strategies of the opposition parties, they are mostly one-dimensional. All too often the default position of smaller parties is vague and empty criticism of the ruling party, which is where opposition parties should work on improving rather than entertaining ideas of having a coalition.
Opposition leaders need to realise that if they are not innovative, the electorate will punish them in general elections. It is tragic that most politicians spend a great deal of time engaging yesteryear student politics of hurling insults to their opponents.
Instead they should portray themselves as mature leaders who can offer a viable alternative to the ruling party.
The ruling party, PF was quoted recently saying that the party was too strong and organized for any opposition political party alliance to pose a threat to its wining the August 11th general elections.
“PF does not even think an alliance among opposition political parties can last long enough to contest this year’s general elections. The issue of a presidential candidate and running mate would be a problem for any alliance that is formed among opposition political parties,”PF Deputy Spokesperson Frank Bwalya said.
Also, Zambia has far too many political parties, a clear sign of political bankruptcy. There is UPND led by Hakainde Hichilema, FDD led by Edith Nawaki, MMD led by Nevers Mumba, Rainbow Party led by Winter Kabimba, National Restoration Party (NAREP) of Elias Chipimo jnr,Heritage Party by Brigadier General Miyanda, National Movement for Progress (NMP) led by Ng’andu Magande,National Revolutionary party(NRP) of Charles Milupi, Green party of Peter Sinkamba and 4th Revolution (4R) led by Eric Chanda, Liberal party of Sakwiba Sikota and Dr Ludwig Sondashi led Forum for Democratic Alternatives (FDA).
The problem with so many opposition parties is that they offer no compelling reason to consider them. This clearly goes way beyond mere campaign slogans right up to the essence of their vision as encapsulated in their policies. Some seem to lack these altogether and exist only as criticism of the ruling party. That may win them attention, but it won’t win them votes.
Past records have shown failure for Alliances in Zambia.
Some of the Alliances that have failed are United Democratic Alliance formed by UPND, FDD and UNIP in 2005. National Democratic Focus formed IN 2006 by late Ben Mwila’s ZRP, Nevers Mumba RP, and Rev. Dan Pule’s PUDD.
In 2011 a pact between then two biggest opposition parties then opposition PF and UPND that crumbled just a few months to the General elections.
The opposition parties in Zambia are, however, well within their rights to give such a coalition a go, but must be wary of its ethnocentric dimensions as well as its over reliance on personalities as opposed to democratic values and principles.