THE non-adherence to basic and clear democratic tenets within some political parties in Zambia has always been a source of grave concern.
Political organisations like other societies that ought to be formally registered by the Registrar of Societies are required to submit their party constitutions in fulfilment of prerequisites for registration.
By its very nature, a constitution is the supreme document of the party which must be adhered to by all the members of that political party or any other organisation for that matter.
Just like in the Republican Constitution, a political party constitution stipulates the tenure of office for the party leadership, particularly the president, among many other salient provisions synonymous with democratic practices.
The internal leadership wrangles that have engulfed the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) a few weeks before the party goes to the scheduled party convention is rather unfortunate.
Why do party leaders normally seek to amend the party constitution to hold on to power? Why do leaders disobey their party constitutions with impunity, let alone negate frequent holding of party conventions?
It is apparent that the FDD is divided over manoeuvres by some senior party officials to amend the party constitution to allow Ms Edith Nawakwi continue at the helm as its president.
Ms Nawakwi has been party president since 2005 when the party last had its convention and the party has never held one since then.
And the FDD constitution stipulates that one can only serve two five year terms as party president.
In our view, the party’s inability to hold a convention in 2010 to endorse Ms Nawakwi’s party presidency should not be justification for her wanting to amend the constitution to allow her go for another term.
Simple arithmetic shows us that the FDD leader has been in office for two terms from 2005 and seeking to amend the party constitution after more than ten years implies going for a third term of office which is against its party constitution.
It is rather shocking that the FDD leader who vehemently opposed President Frederick Chiluba’s third term bid can attempt to circumvent the due powers and functions of the National Policy Committee to go for a third term.
Democratic ideals that the party has been renowned to stand for dictate that party members must enjoy freedom of expression to challenge ideas that run counter to what the party ideology espouses.
But it is paradoxical to learn that party members within FDD challenging such machinations are deprived of their enjoyment of this constitutional right and subjected to scandalous attacks and threatened with expulsion from the party.
Scathing attacks on the FDD deputy national secretary Kaluba Musenda Simuyemba on allegation that he is on police wanted list for stealing a laptop belonging to the FDD is sour grapes. The alleged criminal case has got nothing to do with challenging a faction championing undemocratic practices.
The long-time party vice-president Chimfumu Banda was yesterday the latest victim to Ms Nawakwi’s ploy of eliminating all potential challengers to her third term bid.
It is undeniably true that the FDD leader and her vice-president have had strained working relations as can be deduced from the just ended August general elections where the party adopted the little known Reverend Clement Mwanza to be Ms Nawakwi’s running mate.
The rate at which all those party member expressing dissenting views are suspended and expelled is a clear manifestation of desperation.
We are very concerned with the high levels of undemocratic tendencies exhibited by opposition political parties which are potentially governing parties in this country.
Not too long ago, the same dictatorial traits manifested their ugly heads in the UPND and vice-president for political affairs, Dr. Canisius Banda, was suspended for merely calling for a national convention.
The same is, unfortunately, the political narrative the FDD appear to have adopted.
Can such political leaders be entrusted with national leadership?