Interesting comments from Hakainde Hichilema on the question of the leadership of the UPND-PF partnership (the "PACT") :
I don't think the leadership question is critical. What is important is for UPND and PF to agree the programme of government and table it before the people. That they have not got a publicly available working document is worrying. If people see what the PACT stands for and it makes sense, leadership will become a second issue. I have written on this before - UK lessons for the UPND-PF coalition. Unfortunately Mr Hichilema is also handling this rather ineffectively. It would be better for him to simply say : Zambians are presented with a unique opportunity to move beyond "personality politics" of which the worst kind is the demand for the PACT to name a candidate. Now is the time to focus on the policies and the need for such a programme of government. That in my view would signal that these guys are not just seeking to change government but our politics as well."That question has been asked several times. We said that the Pact is here to stay and we reiterate that. The Pact is here because the people of Zambia wanted it...Why are they driving us to give them a candidate? When they are squabbling whether it’s Ng’andu Magande, whether it’s George Mpombo, whether it’s Rupiah Banda and whether MMD will have a convention. Let them focus on their issues and we know what we are doing. Very methodical, we are conscious of competition, we are conscious of what MMD wants to do to destroy us, we are very careful...But we are on top of what we are doing. We want the people of Zambia to understand that in a political process there is also strategy. There are tactics and we would not release our strategy and tactics to the MMD so that we lay ourselves bare."
The other reason I think the leadership question is secondary is because no matter what happens in 2011, it seems clear, at this stage, that the PACT will have more MPs. This becomes obvious when we consider that UPND and PF will stand as independent non-competing parties. It is likely that some UPND or PF diehards may not support the preferred PACT candidate for the "presidency", what is clear is that this would not affect the parliamentary equations. The worst outcome for the PACT therefore it seems is that Rupiah Banda remains President because of the unacceptability of the PACT presidential candidate but together the PACT overwhelmingly control Parliament. That is not necessarily a bad for position for the country and may help force powerful changes. It may even lead to another election in 2012!
So the obsession with who heads the PACT seems somewhat overblown. Its largely driven by syndrome of "personality politics" and the failure to account for the parliamentary electoral maths.