Monday, 17 May 2010

I write what I like....

Do We Need More Political Parties?

By Daimone Siulapwa

17th May 2010

IF perhaps it was William Shakespeare, he would have said to have or not to have?

Should Zambia have so many political parties? Or perhaps are the new parties being formed now necessary at all?

Well, the simple answer to that is that the country is a multi-party system of democracy and that people have the right of association - a fact in itself. But that answer is a simplification of the reality on the ground and the challenges that this country faces.

Maybe because of the frustrations that are found in the many already existing political parties, individuals are increasingly finding it necessary to form new ones.

That may as well be true.

They perhaps see the already existing parties as not providing the necessary direction needed for this country to move forward.

But my own assessment is that we are having too many political parties being formed due to lack of internal democracy in the already existing parties.

Just look at how difficult it is for these political parties to justify why they do not go for conventions. Yet, these conventions are supposed to provide a platform for them to review policy and indeed re-energise themselves for the task of providing leadership to the country.

The biggest reason given for the inability to go for a convention is lack of resources - something that may perhaps be true.

But again, how do these same political parties manage to travel the breadth and length of the country to campaign during a general election.

And in case, if it is indeed lack of resources, why do these political parties engage in some kind of fundraising.

Truly speaking, we have not seen some serious fundraising activity from any political party in this country.

Anyhow, lest we lose track, the subject here has to do with the many parties that are being formed, and my assertion that it is due to lack of internal democracy in the respective political parties.

In the recent general elections in the United Kingdom, we saw some senior Labour Party members openly criticize their leader Gordon Brown, without any reprisals whatsoever.

But the question is can that happen to any of our political parties in this country?

If you dare oppose a position taken by the party leader in this country, 90 percent of the chances are that you will be punished. If you are a Member of Parliament (MP) or Cabinet Minister, it is likely that you will lose that privilege. This is not speaking from without, it is something we have seen time and again in our country, and will continue to do so as long as we fail to provide vibrant internal democracy.

Now, if there is lack of tolerance for its members by leadership, how possible is it for them to do so for a new member who may want to join and influence policy in the manner he feels is okay. In other words, is it possible for someone with a Barack Obama-like style promising change, to be accepted in an already existing party? Or would Elias Chipimo Jr have been accepted in any of the already existing political parties preaching what he said at the launch of his political party? I doubt that very much. There-in lies the need for internal democracy in our various political parties.

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