By Jeff Mbewe
Recently, I offered my views, destroying the views of supporters of both the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND) over the outcome of the Lusaka Province Mayoral elections.
For clarity’s sake, PF supporters claim their current success, including inroads made into the stubborn strongholds of their rival UPND, is indication that the governing party is gaining and growing. They point to their 13 election victory out of 14 held across the country – including victory from Northwestern province to substantiate their claim.
And the UPND say, the massive voter apathy experienced in the elections is indication enough that the voters are showing no confidence in the governing party. And they further claim, history has it that, the then opposition PF had always lost almost all by-elections to the then ruling party MMD but when the general election came in 2011, the opposite happened; they maintain that PF is losing and UPND is gaining, therefore, will win in 2021.
As already said in my previous opinion, both claims are subjective to the feelings of both parties, without expression of the truth at heart.
However, today I look into a notion I scantly expounded that National Democratic Congress (NDC) has an evil shadow of the PF, as such, it is likely to be another Rainbow Party of Wynter Kabimba.
Prior to the formation of Rainbow Party in December 2015, there were cracks in the PF, where Kabimba and group leaped from. The cracks started way before late PF founder Michael Sata died, which saw two rival groups – The Bemba clique and The infamous Cartel -emerge, all fighting to succeed their leader, after realizing his days were short following his chronic ‘unknown’ illness.
Following the eventual death of Sata, although, Kabimba the flag bearer of the Cartel was by then controversially dropped as both Justice Minister and party Secretary General, the group still had a number of key members within government and had to their side the lethal Post Newspaper as their mouthpiece with Fred M’membe as Editor in Chief penning a series of scathing editorials and coverage for anyone suspected to belong to the Bemba clique.
There is evidence which suggest that actually, the confusion that ensued in the succession wrangles after Sata died, were as a result of the Cartel wanting to find ways to make Kabimba the PF presidential candidate.
In order to do this, the infamous group needed to have a puppet Secretary General, and because Edgar Lungu was then the party SG, he was fired and replaced by Davis Mwila who first accepted the appointment but was forced to decline it in front of a camera at Muvi TV studios by a horde of panga wielding cadres who promised him death.
The move to bring in Kabimba flopped –the Cartel settled for Miles Sampa, but was equally beaten by the craftiness of pro-Edgar Lungu lawyers Kabwe Bwalya Fube and Tutwa Ngulube who went and secured an injunction at 03 hours in the morning from a ‘user friendly’ judge against the other convention led by then acting Republican President Guy Scott.
During this period of controversy, the PF supporters too were polarized. There are those whose allegiance were with the Bemba clique which sided with Edgar Lungu and those who opted to back the Cartel. After the Edgar Lungu group emerged victorious, the other group and its supporters were dispersed. They basically became orphans and had no party, no candidate to support.
In December 2015, Wynter Kabimba announced the formation of Rainbow Party. It was evident that the party had the backing of all those who aligned themselves to the Cartel, including the orphaned cadres.
Party structures in Rainbow were made from the dispersed and disgruntled cadres who had been ‘chased’ by their fellows in PF for supporting the Cartel. Because of the substantial coverage Rainbow Party received from Post Newspapers, it appeared that the party was set to make a significant impact on the political scene. The hype was rampant – everyone talked of how Kabimba ‘delivered’ PF 2011 victory crediting him with all the perfect organizing skills and that he would give PF a hard time.
The truth is opposite – behind doors, Rainbow was going nowhere. In its structures, it employed the very virulent cadres who were in PF and these did not at any point believe in the socialism ideology of Wynter and his mates. When you ask them to tell you what socialism is, they could hardly even pronounce the name correctly – they said shosholism! But there they were in Post newspapers projected as a significant party.
The problems, which led to the breakaway of Fred M’membe and Cosmas Musumali, from Rainbow to form their own Socialist Party (SP) started during the Congress in June 2016. Rainbow was almost entirely financed by Fred M’membe’s proceeds from the Post newspapers and his currier business. The vehicles of the party drew fuel from the Post production plant and cadres of the ‘shosholist’ party had a pass to eat from the Post’s canteen.
In their circles, the Rainbow battalion discussed of how they were unfairly treated by their mates in PF –they discussed about how when Rainbow win the elections, they would revenge. These cadres had been accustomed to the perks, the grabbing of land, and controlling markets as well as bus stations during their days in PF. They are a bunch of thugs, lazy elements who could not survive anymore in politics without handouts. In order to have them intact and retain their loyalty, one need to have a strong and long pocket to oil them, otherwise they are prone to be bought by anyone.
However, during the Rainbow Congress, Kabimba’s relatives whom he hired in various posts embezzled funds – Fred M’membe doesn’t tolerate such nonsense. He already had begun growing cold feet with the behavior of the members in party structures who had no tangible concern of the ideology propelled but only wanted a survival plan.
To cut the whole narrative short; NDC faces the same challenges Rainbow faced. The majority of those who support Kambwili today, are known faces that were in PF not so long ago, but supported ‘junior king cobra’ and after his falling from grace, they became orphaned and had no choice but to follow him. Most of those who support NDC have no clue what the ideology Kambwili espouses.
For them, they can’t live without being sycophants and political parasites – they just had to find solace in NDC. Soon or later, they will be an exodus of defections from NDC to any party that offers them better perks, and Kambwili risk finding himself where Kabimba is today.
In saying this, let me reaffirm that, the parties that are prone to make a meaningful impact are likely to be the ones run by individuals who came neither from PF nor UPND – the paradigm shift is slowly changing and it would be worthwhile to note that such a party can even be People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) or Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP).