FDD’s Antonio Mwanza has literally exposed what a lot of people within the UPND have always known, that there is a vivid conspiracy of silence by both the top UPND leadership and its Members of Parliament for reasons that can only be speculated on for now.
During the incarceration of the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema on trumped up charges of treason, there was a noticeable deafening silence from most of the Party’s leadership among them 58 lawmakers and the UPND Vice President who conveniently left for South Africa on a *purported* sick leave at such a critical hour.
This unprecedented muteness on the detention of their leader offered an opportunity for the UPND’s Alliance partners the likes of Presidents Mike Mulongoti, Charles Milupi and Dr. Nevers Mumba who gallantly and fearlessly spoke out and denounced the dictatorship of Edgar Lungu, the false treason accusation and consequently the imprisonment of Hichilema and the complicity of the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the whole shamefully washed down judicial process.
Apart from occasional spirited statements from the UPND Chairperson Madam Mutale Nalumango, there was almost absolute silence from the UPND leadership.
The past two weeks has witnessed a barrage of attacks from the PF over Hakainde Hichilema’s factual utterances regarding his incarceration on his recent visit to South Africa. The PF has smeared the trip as unpatriotic and hateful and yet the UPND leadership has been scaringly dead quite, not a word.
This prompted FDD Spokes Person, Antonio Mwanza to issue a statement in defense of Hichilema here partly quoted, “After carefully listening to the speech of President Hakainde Hichilema and listening to the views of comrades Emmanuel Mwamba, Sunday Chanda and many other comrades in the PF, I have come to the conclusion that what HH said in South Africa does not amount to denting the Country’s image because he was simply referring to the treatment that he received from the time he was arrested, the period he was incarcerated, until the time that he was released. That has got nothing to do with the image of Zambia”.
“I am forced to speak and defend the UPND because I haven’t heard UPND officials coming out clearly to defend their President and I think that is something that UPND will have to work on”, concluded Mwanza.
We once ran an article on the 58 UPND MPS Quiet Lot way before HH’s arrest. And this seems to be the epicenter of the problem. The question many are asking is what is really in the eye of this Hurricane in the UPND?
Why have vocal MPs like Gary Nkombo, Cornelius Mweetwa, Professor Lungwangwa, Hon Lubezyi, Ephraim Belemu and many others all seemingly having taken a back seat?
There are a lot who feel the heart of the problem of the UPND squarely lies at the Secretariat headed by Secretary General Steven Katuka who seems to have lamentably failed to marshal a strategic bankable plan to move the Party forward. The UPND CEO seems to have unquestionably failed to ride on the ripe political tide the imprisonment and freeing of Hichilema has generated among the majority of Zambians who now regard him as a cult figure. The reasons for maintaining such a CEO of a party is one reason why the UPND has really not come through to show case itself as one that is capable of turning around the Zambian economy if elected today.
For example Katuka and the UPND have failed to thrive on the political fortunes the Constitutional Court judgement regarding Edgar Lungu’s failure to hand over the instruments of power to the Speaker of the National Assembly, when the presidential electoral petition was filed in the Zambian courts of law.
When Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Secretary General of the British Commonwealth announced that she had appointed Ibrahim Gambari as her special envoy to the peace talks between Lungu and Hichilema, the UPND failed to raise an objection over her choice of the Nigerian, on the grounds that he was the delegation leader, of the same body that certified the Zambian elections as ‘free’ and fair. Totally an absurd disposition. Some credible UPND observers at the elections swear having heard Gambari muttering to his team that he thought Hakainde Hichilema was arrogant. How neutral would such an envoy be to independently navigate such a complex and tense peace process between two opposing factions?
These system failures have given rise to increasing speculations that perhaps Hichilema feels comfortable to be surrounded by a weak team that he can control without question, especially that he hasn’t raised a finger over these men and women that many view as mediocre and incompetent. HH has been out of prison for almost a month now but his Party has failed to produce him before the grassroots even in areas where there are by-elections. This is a total let down on part of the UPND.
The calls for a convention seem to be gaining momentum in the UPND not for the purpose of deposing Hichilema for he remains immensely popular despite party leadership failures, but to rid the Party of grumpy old politicians who are viewed by many young hot heads as a danger to the popularity, existence and growth of the UPND.
The apparent conservativism of Hichilema seems to have given birth to the UPND ‘Young Turks’ who may pressure HH to clean the UPND house and get rid of moribund leaders like Steven Katuka, Namakau Kabwiku, Jack Mwiimbu and Charles Kakoma. Sadly HH seems to have so much confidence in Jack Mwiimbu not for political reasons but for whatever other reasons. This misplaced trust needs un-packing in order to help grow the party.
The UPND President will be walking a tight rope as he balances his act over his policies of ethnic representation on one hand, and how to handle the inefficiencys at the secretariete the increasing demands of the Young Turks who are becoming an influential, important and strategic constituency in the overall UPND outfit.
Many believe Hakainde doesn’t seem to have much time on his hands. It remains to be seen how fast he will move the UPND forward given these pressing issues AND THE SILENT ‘REBELLION’ GOING ON IN THE UPND.