Intra-Party democracy in PF


THE tussle for the deputy mayoral candidacy for the city of Lusaka between Tasila Lungu and Christopher Shakafuswa is painting the ruling party black.

It is a dictate of democracy for people to offer themselves and be elected for leadership positions.

A contrary position deviates from the path of well-established ethos of democracy, tolerance and freedom of expression in aspiring for elective positions.

The Patriotic Front (PF), as a ruling party, must espouse and abide by the tenets of democracy. This must not only be observed at national level but also within the PF.

Intra-party democracy has always been a characteristic of the PF right from its inception.

Thus far, it has been one of the consistent political parties, for instance, to hold the national party conventions to allow the democratic participation of its membership in the selection of leaders.

As a political party, it showed how truly democratic they are when the party went to the convention in December 2014 to choose their party presidential candidate in the 20th January, 2015 presidential election.

Ten candidates offered themselves for consideration for the party presidency and the outcome of that convention saw President Edgar Lungu emerge as people’s the preferred choice.

Similarly, the party exercised intra-party democracy in the run up to the August general elections when the grassroots membership actively took party in nominating their leadership at ward and constituency levels.

In either case, the interested hopefuls who met the prescribed qualification were allowed to exercise their constitutional and democratic right to vie for the leadership position and then canvassed for votes from their supporters.

Ultimately, the candidate’s popularity is what determines one’s victory or not as opposed to the party’s imposition of the candidate.

For instance, the PF had many of its preferred candidates on the Copperbelt not adopted by the people at the grassroots. These are the ones who ended up contesting as independent candidates and won the day.

However, the independent candidates largely helped the PF win the presidential vote as they campaigned for Edgar Lungu in critical provinces such as the Copperbelt.

We think that it is a constitutional and democratic right for every councillor to vie for the position of deputy mayor provided that they meet the qualification for such a position.

That said, this neither excludes nor limits Nkoloma Ward 1 councillor, Tasila Lungu, on account of being the daughter to President Lungu.

Is Tasila not an elected councillor? If she is, what disqualifies her from vying for the position then?

Article 154 (3) of the Republican Constitution stipulates that, “A deputy mayor and a deputy council chairperson shall be elected by the councillors from amongst themselves.”

And by virtue of Tasila being an elected councillor, she ably qualifies for election by her fellow councillors to the position of deputy mayor.

We think that nothing expressly chronicled in the PF party constitution prohibits any elected councillor from aspiring to such an elective position as deputy mayor either.

Thus, no tribe, family ties nor gender should deprive anyone from exercising their constitutional rights.

If Mulenga Sata whose father was republican president was once deputy mayor for the city of Lusaka, there should be absolutely nothing wrong for Tasila who is in the similar position to vie for the position.

Attempts by the PF party to bar Tasila from vying for the deputy mayoral position amount to an infringement on her democratic and constitutional rights.

As a growing democracy, we need to observe and emulate the democratic practices from other democracies such as America, where Hilary Clinton despite being former First Lady was nominated to be the candidate for the democrats in the national elections slated for November, 2016.

We agree with those NGOs that have come out to back her candidacy because we think she (Tasila) should not be sidelined on account of her family ties.

We urge the ruling party to allow intra-party democracy thrive by allowing its membership to aspire for different position regardless of gender or sex.