By Kellys Kaunda
Fast forward – it’s December 2016. You are doing a word cloud for the year 2016. I don’t know about you but for me, the word “alliance” sounds more loudly and comes more frequently than any other word in the political chat box. Picture the scene if you may: politicians of all sheds, ideologies and positions are in serious engagement away from the prying eyes of the public.
Some are crisscrossing the streets of Lusaka rushing to various rendezvous; phone lines are ringing incessantly; meals are neglected; pangs of hunger not felt or entertained. The brothers and sisters of the political hoods are in a pensive mood. They have a deadline to meet – August 11 or find themselves stranded on the shores of an electoral harbor with the ship carrying qualifying contestants already pulling into the sea.
Before I lose you in my amateurish poetry, I am simply talking about alliances, alliances brought about by the signing into law amendments to the Zambian constitution. It’s an admission on the part of political parties that they may not make it alone. The realities of a new political era – united we stand, divided we fall.
Alliances, potentially, have political value if they have been strategically thought through. This should mean that each alliance member brings something to the table that should increase chances of winning an election. Alliance members, especially leaders of the parties in question, must develop some level of chemistry to facilitate a working relationship.
Let’s take for instance the Orange Alliance which some of you have already dealt with on this platform. While Miles Sampa proved a political workhorse as Member of the PF and an MP for Matero, he is yet to prove that away from PF, he is able to marshal similar political power. Going into an alliance with him would then be a gamble. The other members of the Orange Alliance, especially Elias proved unable to win a single seat in Parliament. I stand to be corrected, his party failed to win even at local government level. Going into an alliance with him is also a gamble.
MMD has announced its alliance with the ruling party. This alliance is a formidable one, dismissed only at one’s own peril. For starters, both parties have Members of Parliament in different parts of the country giving them a presence and a platform from which to reach out to the voters. Some MMD MPs are in government, which gives them an incentive to work even harder in the election campaigns.
Some MMD MPs are in alliance with the UPND. How many UPND will attract into its ranks and how many will remain supporting PF may give an indication as to the balance of power and who gets a psychological advantage over the other. Alliances come with conditions, conditions, which might spell the success or failure of the project. Among them will include the question of power sharing. For instance, who become the running mate and eventually the Vice President and most likely the country’s 7th Head of State? Beyond its value for electoral purposes, I am not sure if there’s any other useful purpose in the grand scheme of things that an alliance serves despite all the hype.