A Pact of Naivety: Hakainde Hichilema and his Lost Battle for the Pact
By Elias Munshya wa Munshya
In an earlier article, I had given the so called UPND/PF Pact until November 2010 to survive. After November, I predicted that it was going to disintegrate into stark factions and rancour. November is two months away and all the signs are all here. The Pact has collapsed. The winner in this break-up is unfortunately, Michael Sata and the loser of course is his counterpart Hakainde Hichilema. In this article, I wish to examine how HH lost the battle for the Pact because of his political naiveté.
Hakainde Hichilema failed to control his message going into the pact. He was undoubtedly motivated by a modest desire to see that the MMD does not retain power in 2011. But that is where the problem lay. HH did not care about the disparate manifestos that his party had with PF. Instead, his actions were characteristically opportunistic. He was ready to compromise his pro-business principles, pro-constitution values and the democratic character of his UPND. He was willing to sacrifice all these ideals at the altar of the PF’s anti-business and dictatorial trends. I do wonder why it never occurred to HH that the PF he wanted to go to bed with had never conducted intra-party elections at any level, from its branches to its Central Committee, in the 9 years of its existence.
Hakainde Hichilema lamentably failed to keep and enforce political discipline within his UPND ranks. As a party under Anderson Mazoka, the UPND was very well rallied around its party president. Mazoka was undoubtedly a respected leader within the UPND. But as HH took over, it was clear that he was no match for Mazoka. HH found it difficult to escape Anderson’s shadows. An incessant comparison between him and Kambela yielded miserable outcomes. When problems started to develop within the UPND/PF Pact, HH tried and failed to articulate to his people to give the pact a chance. It looks like more junior UPND structures had no hope in PF’s sincerity about the Pact. And as such, they just saw no reason why their leader wanted to insist on it. The greatest show of indiscipline came when the UPND national Youth Chairman Joe Kalusa expressed doubt about the leadership abilities of the UPND and PF leaders in pact. HH had all but failed to whip and rally his troops.
Hakainde Hichilema’s public insistence that he cannot win the 2011 elections if the UPND went it alone shows his political naïveté. Politics is a game of posturing. It never is a game of veracity and actuality. It is a game of cards, opportunity and courage. But HH just recently told his followers not to cheat him into thinking that he can win the 2011 elections singlehandedly. This defeatist mentality is contrary to the spirit of Zambian politics. HH’s insistence that he needs a Pact to dislodge the MMD from power is perhaps one single statement that seals his fate as a political neophyte. Even leaders of smaller parties in Zambia, without parliamentary presence, never display such defeatism. They go on fighting. Parties such as Heritage Party, or even Reform Party or indeed UNIP do go into elections with a courage and belief that they are in it to win. None of party presidents ever say that they cannot win an election. Michael Sata himself as leader of the PF never says that he cannot win the presidency unaided. In fact, what HH said made him appear politically immature compared to his counterpart. That it is the UPND that needed the Pact more than the PF needed it can be comfortably inferred from HH’s statements. In politics, many would rather vote for a ten-man party whose leader believes that he can win, than vote for a millions’ party whose leader displays spineless attitudes. HH has lost the battle for the Pact because he as evidenced by his recent statements cannot win the 2011 election unless he stood on the Pact’s ticket.
The UPND and Hakainde Hichilema do still have a huge role to play in the political arena in Zambia, however. As a party that is rising in its popularity, HH should not have discouraged his supporters that the UPND cannot triumph. He instead needed to encourage them if they are to continue with their resurgence in Northwestern Province and beyond. As HH is telling us about his inabilities, a new National Movement for Progress (NMP) under Ng’andu Magande is reverberating in Monze and beyond. Magande does believe that he is the right man for Zambia and is coming to the year 2011 with the audacity to win. If HH continues with his naivety, the people of Southern Province may switch their allegiance from his UPND to NMP or worse still the MMD. All Ng’andu needs to tell the South, the North, the East and the West is that he has become the heir of their desire to see a developed Zambia. If it is time for a southerner to lead their beloved country, Magande may be the man. At least, unlike one Hakainde Hichilema, he believes it.