THE simmering volcano of discord among the Patriotic Front (PF) honchos must be handled cautiously by the executive branch of the party.
The tirade of differences in opinion between top party officials has far reaching repercussions on the unity of any political organisation, the PF is no exception.
By virtue of being the governing party, the PF is expected to show mature leadership traits as the people’s preferred party of choice by handling internal squabbles fairly but firmly.
Above all else, the ruling party should espouse ideologies that show strong character of purpose in driving the national development agenda. This onerous responsibility requires sobriety of character and a united team.
Going by the foregoing, it is anticipated that party officials understand the ideals and values the political organisation believes in and stands for in order to pull in the same direction.
Unfortunately so, this appears not to be the case with many political parties in Zambia. Only a handful party members seem to buy into the party’s ideology and vision while the rest of the cadres only end at memorising the party slogan.
Probably, this explains why some political parties develop cracks along the way and find themselves at the crossroads.
In a democratic dispensation like ours, it is a constitutional right for every citizen to form or belong to a political organisation of one’s choice.
As a result, an individual may defect from one political party to another at will as many times as one sees and thinks prudent to do.
For the most active political organisations, however, defections become part of their systemic character and unavoidable as people migrate from small or inactive parties to more stable and better organised ones.
Be that as it may, the new entrants to such big political parties usually feel not welcome particularly when the party they have joined is the governing party.
Their presence has in most instances caused discomfort to the founder membership mainly because they begin to feel that new comers would take up their positions in the party.
At the centre of such squabbles lies unfounded fears that the founder members risk losing job opportunities which come in form of political appointments as appeasement for the hard work to usher their party into government.
This is typically the reflection of the unfolding hullabaloo in the governing PF party.
A clique has emerged within the party comprising individuals who feel that their positions of power have been taken over by new members of the party, let alone have taken up appointments to strategic positions in Government.
For instance, contradictions between the party secretary general Davis Mwila and Copperbelt Province minister Bowman Lusambo on the stance taken in fighting graft in the allocation of land on the Copperbelt is a tip of the ice-berg of the deepening dissent among the old and new PF members.
Consequently, the whispers of who is more PF to have deserved such appointments is slowly but sure becoming endemic. Some of the party officials have even ganged up to audaciously challenge such new entrants.
Is party patronage the criteria for appointments to key government positions? Is the appointment of opposition Members of Parliament to key government positions an indication that PF is taken over by outsiders?
It is basic knowledge that in order for an individual to qualify for appointment to the position of provincial or cabinet minister, foremost, one has to be either an elected or nominated Member of Parliament.
Being a Member of Parliament, however, does not guarantee an automatic appointment to such positions. The determinant factor is whether such an individual merits such an appointment.
We hold the view that appointment to key government positions must be on merit and not political party patronage. Thus, those who do not possess the requisite qualifications for the job should not complain of being sidelined.
Assertions that PF is being swallowed up by the former ruling party MMD are neither here nor there as the two political parties have entered into a working alliance.
If anything, the appointment of opposition Members of Parliament to government position is not novel. This has been done several times by preceding governments and the benefits can be attested to.
Moreover, the Constitution does not limit these appointments to the ruling party membership, hence there should be no fuss about this really.
As President Lungu rightly stated, the PF party is a big political family to which all its membership ought to have a sense of belonging regardless of the time they joined it. Just like in an ordinary family set up, all members thereof enjoy their sense of belonging regardless of their positions.
In view of what is happening in the party, there is urgent need for the PF to steady up and instil a degree of discipline among its party membership. No one should regard oneself to be more PF than the other.
We urge the PF to take a leaf from what transpired to the MMD and avoid falling in the same dungeon.