Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Politics of Poverty

The loss of a parliamentary constituency in Mufumbwe keeps on to erode the political majorities of the ruling MMD come the 2011 presidential elections. This took place on 28 April after the death of MMD Member of Parliament for Mufumbwe Misheck Bonshe.

The PF/UPND pact won by a landslide victory—in an election characterised by political violence in which a police officer was assaulted. Indeed, north western provinces as at now is slowly sliding into a PF ally and the loss of Mufumbwe brings to two constituencies won by the PF ever since Rupiah Banda came to the presidency in 2008.

Talking in terms of ethnic and tribal loyalties, it is correct to infer that the ruling MMD lost the original political majority when the late President Levy Mwanawasa came to power in 2002. Mwanawasa flushed out Bemba political following from the MMD in order to distance himself from the corrupt regime of his mentor Fredrick Chiluba.

This switch in ethnic loyalties came to the fore during the 2006 general election, when the MMD lost heavily in Northern and Ivapula provinces (Bemba-speaking provinces).

People in Zambia tend to vote for political leaders to whom they have close ethnic and tribal affinities—though that seems not to be the case in the urban mining towns (in the Copperbelt Province), where voting is determined by economic and social factors. Let it be understood that both UNIP, MMD, UPND and PF started as tribal political movements—commanding ethnic support in their respective tribal homelands. There we find political leaders in Zambia tend to evade the fact on the pretext of massing a natural following.

It is a fact that the Catholic clergy in Zambia proves to be a thorn in the flesh of every ruling political party, especially during the presidential elections. More or less the Catholic is always siding with the political opposition. On 10 April a group of unidentified women staged a demonstration at the Vatican embassy in Lusaka, calling for the removal of the Catholic Archbishop in Zambia Telesphore Mpundu. It is a well-known fact that Mpundu does openly advocate for régime change in Zambia. Investigations that were carried out by the political opposition revealed that a group of women who had staged a demonstration at the Vatican embassy were not Catholic women as was alleged by the ruling MMD—but a clique of political thugs hired by the MMD.

It is now a common experience in Zambia for political journalists and Catholic clergy to be assaulted in public by MMD party cadres. The flamboyant Catholic priest of Kitwe, Father Frank Bwalya was recently detained by the police when he was found distributing and brandishing RED CARDS during the youth day holiday celebrations. The meaning behind this red card politi8cal campaign calls for the unilateral vote of NO CONFIDENCE in President Rupiah Banda. Frank Bwalya has formed a political movement called CHANGE LIFE Zambia that openly advocates for the resignation of Banda.

The Catholic church plays a major rôle in the social and community upkeep of ordinary people—it runs mission schools and health institutions in some rural areas of the country. More or less the Catholic church supplements the government’s economic programme. Indeed the Catholic church does play a part in influencing political consciousness among poor and disgruntled majorities.

As befits a Zambian cultural and traditional setting, the untimely death of Levy Mwanawasa has been attributed to witchcraft either from his relatives or political enemies. It is a taboo among Zambians to speak ill of the dead, thus many politicians keep mum on the political defects of the late president Mwanawasa. Indeed, it is wantonly difficult to change the ethnic mindset of village dwellers in rural areas—thus socialist propaganda must be concentrated in urban areas among workers and students. It may come to pass that many an ordinary Zambian may want to know whether the former and second republican President Chiluba’s heart problem was induced by corruption allegations slapped upon him by the late Mwanawasa. Indeed, even since he won his corruption case, Chiluba does not go for medical check-ups in South Africa unlike it was [sic] in the past years.

We in the WSM do not advocate for régime change either in Zambia or elsewhere—we advocate world socialism—a classless, moneyless and stateless society.

K. MULENGA, Zambia

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