Friday, September 19, 2008

Winners and Losers

It is the case that Zambia is enjoying unprecedented high levels of economic development due to favourable (high) copper prices on the world market. There are massive investments in the copper mining industry, mostly from China. Thus we may infer without doubt that the death of president Levy Mwanawasa has caught overseas investors off guard in the sense that they know that a change in leadership will entail the change in economic priorities and political stability—more or less most people in Zambia have come to accumulate wealth through political alignments and ethnic loyalties (nepotism).

The entire MMD government is a superficial political arrangement…cabinet ministers and civil servants are mostly hand-picked close friends and relatives of Mwanawasa. It will be superfluous to analyse the political crisis without due regard to the intrinsic ethnic and tribal prejudices that have always determined political loyalties in Zambia. The New Deal MMD government under Mwanawasa was strongly dominated by Lenje- and Lamba-speaking tribal politicians. There is a predisposition to sideline Bemba-speaking politicians from the high echelons of the MMD party.

The voting patterns that emerged after the 2006 general elections revealed a marked change in tribal and ethnic loyalties in the sense that the Bemba-speaking tribes mostly voted for the Patriotic Front (PF) of Michael Sata (a Bemba-speaking politician). The MMD emerged as a Bemba-dominated political party under the leadership of Fredrick Chiluba. We have seen political factions emerge within the ruling echelons of the MMD in consequence of the death of president Mwanawasa.

It is a fact that the appointment of Rupia Banda as the vice-president was made in order to compensate the people of Eastern Province for having heavily voted for the MMD in 2006 . Let it be understood that Banda was a staunch UNIP politician and was never a member of the MMD.

It is outright impossible for a ruling political party to lose a general election in Africa, especially when the so-called 50 percent plus vote is not part of the constitution.

The workers and peasants of Zambia have opposed the simple majority formula because it gives room to corruption and manipulation. Article 95 (1) of the Munyomba Draft Constitution prescribes that a presidential candidate should win the elections by 50 percent plus one vote. The National Constitution (NCC) appointed by Levy Mwanawasa is currently debating and reviewing submissions of the Munyomba Draft Constitution that may pave the way for the creation of a new constitution. But there are those who have opposed the 50 percent plus one vote like health minister Ronald Njapau, who said it was not good for a country's safety. He said the majoritarian system will bring about a political crisis in Zambia as was the case in Kenya and Zimbabwe. And the former republican vice-president General Christon Tembo said the NCC should not be excited with the clause but be mindful of the political repercussions.

But home affairs minister Lwipa Puma believes that the 50 percent plus one vote will be a costly exercise and that it is inappropriate for a poor country like Zambia to spend money on unnecessary re-runs instead of spending it on building schools and hospitals.

As socialists we have something more to say to our fellow workers in Zambia and who are currently mourning for President Levy Mwanawasa. What we ask you to do in your own interest is to consider the case for socialism. If you do you will discover facts that may surprise you—socialism involves the abolition of the wages system once and for all. Socialism should be your concern as well as ours.

K. MULENGA, Zambia

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