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Friday, 29 August 2008

The struggle for presidential power...

The search for an MMD presidential candidate is becoming crowded, with the latest tally including Ronnie Shikapwasha (Minister of Home Affairs) and former Republican vice-president Nevers Mumba. The process has also brought to the forefront two issues that have come to typify MMD's 17 year dominance of Zambian politics - corruption and tribalism.

previously noted, the approach taken by MMD to select its new presidential candidate is vulnerable to cronyism and rampant corruption, and may lead to weak post electoral phase governance (should the preferred MMD candidate triumph). That said, I did not expect allegations of corruption and general malpractice among the candidates to appear to soon:

....MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba has revealed that one official aspiring to stand as the party’s presidential candidate is spending colossal sums of money to buy support contrary to the code of conduct.

Dr Kalumba said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that other aspirants had created a political block calling itself “the most western Rhodesia”, which has the danger of undermining the Constitution. He said his office had instituted investigations on the two issues which threaten to bring the name of the ruling party into disrepute and create a crisis in the party....

Ironic that Dr Kalumba, who is also facing corruption charges in the courts of law, and who many have campaigned against not to stand on those same grounds (and so far he is not), should be the one to reveal this to us and also spearhead the MMD purge. We could read this to mean things are changing, or corruption is so rampant that even the devil would be scared!

Its an open secret that
Zambians vote on tribal lines , but when people's voting patterns is accentuated by leading figures in the ruling party, through the creation of Kapwepwean "tribal alliances" then its not good for national unity (incidentally Kapwepwe was creating tribal alliances to encourage competition to Kaunda's hegemony, the new intra-MMD alliances appear geared to suppressing free choices). It appears this is the path being taken by leading MMD contenders, as the struggle between Magande (Finance Minister) and Banda (Acting President) now takes on serious tribal undertones.

I would add as a footnote, that its not just tribalism, there's also some sexism being used. One only has to read between the lines of
Tetamashimba's latest pronouncement that the former First Lady should not be tempted "into joining politics at the time that she has lost her husband". The implication clearly being that bereaved women can't cope with political pressure. Would we say the same if the roles where reversed?

That is not to say the country should openly embrace Maureen's candidature. On the contrary, due to what I call "leviathan nepotism", careful assessment is needed. As we discussed here, its well documented that for all Levy's achievements, he practised significant nepotism in the hiring of civil servants and ministers. Nepotism is just as bad as corruption, and may be even worse. It weakens lines of authority and promotes incompetent people over those who are better qualified, inevitably turning the Executive Branch into a personal toy. Zambians would have to be sure Levy practiced nepotism alone, without the wife's knowledge or influence before giving Maureen the presidency. But thats what election campaigns are for. To discuss people's legacies and what they have achieved. We certainly should not prevent people from contesting positions because they are bereaved wives.


  1. Cho,
    Has Nevers officially entered the race to be the MMD's candidate?
    The PANEL

  2. Yes, according to the Times (See the link in the post)

  3. Thanks. The whole thing has turned into a circus. I guess it is part of the democratic process (i.e. evry member of an organisation has the right to aspire to be leader).
    There is a strong possibility of the MMD splitting during this period which would just help the chances of Mr. Sata.

    The PANEL

  4. Right now, the race seems to be between Ngandu Magande and Rupiah Banda.


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