A New Era for NDC

Joseph Kasonde Elected as party President and Appoints Kennedy Siyanda as Secretary General

Staff Reporters

Lusaka, Zambia24 (25-05-2024) – In a decisive move, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) held an extraordinary convention this past weekend, electing Joseph Kasonde as the new president. This election fills the vacancy at the top of the party and sets the stage for a strategic push towards the 2026 general elections.

Andre Mwanza, an NDC member moderating the election process, announced that the role of Secretary-General would be filled through an appointment by President-elect Kasonde. This decision highlights Kasonde’s immediate influence on the party’s strategic direction and operational leadership.

The New Leadership Team

Kasonde will be supported by a robust leadership team designed to strengthen the NDC’s political machinery and grassroots mobilization. Key figures in this team include:

  • Vice President: Arthur Musukwa
  • Mobilisation Chairperson: Victor Kongola
  • Labour and Security: Chitondo Martin
  • Mines Chairperson: Timoth Mulusa
  • Chairman of Elections: Machile Kalembwe
  • National Chairpersons: Mulasikwanda Maxilda and Theresa Sunga

Vision for Growth and Stability

In his first address to the media as president-elect, Kasonde emphasized his commitment to expanding the party’s membership and enhancing its role in providing constructive checks and balances to the current government. He reiterated the NDC’s continued alliance with the United Party for National Development (UPND), expressing confidence in their joint goal of ensuring President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) is re-elected in 2026.

Kasonde stated that the recent by-election successes of the UPND partners underscore the vitality of the coalition. He argued that together, they are a formidable force in Zambian politics.

Kasonde dismissed claims that the UPND would falter in the upcoming elections as “sour grapes” from opposition detractors. He called for a fair and democratic process, stressing that opposition parties should focus on substantive policy critiques rather than unfounded pessimism.

Addressing National Issues

“It is crucial for opposition leaders to engage in fair and constructive checks and balances. Recently, we were dubbed a ‘ruling opposition party.’ If this means we are effectively contributing to governance while in opposition, then we are in a unique and advantageous position. On the other hand, our opponents, whom I term the ‘losing opposition political parties,’ consistently fall short in elections. Criticism must be accompanied by viable solutions to foster a healthy democratic environment.”

Predictions of a political upheaval in 2026 are unfounded. The NDC’s commitment to the UPND alliance ensures our resilience and strength in the face of challenges. Our alliance will continue to thrive, and baseless claims of a political tsunami will be proven wrong.

Contrary to assertions that democracy in Zambia is shrinking, it is stable and improving. Our former president remains active in public life, engaging in political discourse freely, which indicates our democratic maturity. However, it is essential to recognize that his tenure is over, and he should now assume the role of a statesman, setting a positive example for the nation.

Kasonde urged President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) to intensify efforts against corruption, particularly in sectors like the timber industry, and called for a commission of inquiry into these issues. He said corruption dating back to 2016 has significantly impacted the economy, and recovering these embezzled funds is crucial for our economic revival.

Economic Challenges and Stabilization

The economic challenges we face today stem from previous administrations’ failures. Issues such as the lack of planning for global challenges like climate change have left the current administration with significant burdens. Nevertheless, President HH has made notable strides in addressing these inherited problems, particularly in tackling load shedding. He has made commendable progress, employing thousands of civil servants within two and a half years. This progress is a positive step toward national development.

Former President Kenneth Kaunda’s establishment of the Kariba hydroelectric power station laid a foundation for our power infrastructure. However, subsequent administrations failed to expand on this, leading to the current power shortages. The HH administration’s efforts to address these infrastructure deficits demonstrate a commitment to long-term solutions and sustainable development.

Kasonde did not shy away from addressing broader national concerns, refuting allegations that Zambia’s democratic space is shrinking. He cited the example of former President Edgar Chagwa Lungu (ECL), whom he suggested should moderate his rhetoric. Kasonde argued that those facing legal consequences are simply being held accountable under the same laws they once disregarded.

Calls for Transparency and Accountability

Moreover, Kasonde called for a commission of inquiry into the timber trade’s historical conduct, highlighting the need for transparency and accountability. He urged the government to recover misapplied funds dating back to 2016, insisting that those who had wronged the nation should be brought to justice.

Internal Party Discipline

Emphasizing the importance of internal cohesion and discipline, Kasonde urged all NDC members to adhere strictly to the party’s constitution. He warned that deviations would be met with appropriate consequences, ensuring that the party operates with integrity and unity.

Social Media Conduct

To build a stronger NDC, we must address internal issues that could undermine our unity and effectiveness. Recently, misuse of WhatsApp groups associated with the NDC has become a concern. Some members have engaged in hate speech and other criminal activities, which are currently under police investigation. One particular group, “NDC Cabinet,” created by my predecessor Mr. George Sitwala, is still operational and causing confusion.

In light of the growing influence of social media, Kasonde addressed the misuse of platforms like WhatsApp for criminal activities. He appealed to group administrators to monitor and regulate content, preventing the spread of misinformation and illegal activities. “The National Democratic Congress (NDC) is addressing an internal dispute over an unauthorized blog, ‘NDC Reloaded 2023 Active,’ which falsely presents party officials. Party officials are instructed to shut it down and use the official blogs: ‘NDC NGC Members,’ ‘NDC Democratic Fighters,’ and ‘NDC Reloaded 2023.'”

Looking Forward

Joseph Kasonde’s election marks a significant chapter in the NDC’s history. With a clear vision and a strong leadership team, he aims to fortify the party’s position within Zambia’s political landscape. His commitments to growth, accountability, and economic stability resonate with the aspirations of many Zambians, setting a hopeful tone for the future.

As the NDC prepares for the 2026 elections, Kasonde’s leadership will undoubtedly be pivotal in shaping the party’s strategies and fostering a resilient, dynamic political environment.

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