THE era for political leaders to hold on to power in perpetuity is no longer acceptable in democratic dispensations.
This is only characteristic of dictatorship. This is because leaders of such a political party are dictators, and that is exactly what they are.
Such leadership will usually build a cocoon around them to safeguard their long stay in power with total disregard to democratic tenets.
Invariably, they manipulate the system to disadvantage their perceived potential and probable challengers to leadership from within the party.
Under democratic governance, the party constitution is the supreme document of reference for predictable and legitimate decision making. All decisions must hinge on what the party constitution stipulates.
Going by the foregoing, leaders’ stay in office is determined by the stipulation as enshrined in the party constitution and if there is need for amendments, it must be done after the executive organ of the party has had a special meeting to effect the change.
Democratically speaking, no amendments must precede this wider consultative meeting as the process would be rendered autocratic.
The announcement by the UPND secretary general that party president Mr Hakainde Hichilema is eligible to stand on the party ticket in 2021 has vindicated those who allege that the party has departed from democratic values and practices.
Why is the UPND constitution not as easily accessible to the members of the public as the other party constitutions are?
Which party organ deliberated on the purported amendment regarding the party president’s tenure of office?
For a long time now the UPND has been secretive on a number of decisive issues surrounding leadership. We just wonder why this is so.
We recall succinctly the secrecy that surrounded the choice of Mr Hichilema’s running mate a few weeks prior to filing in of nominations in May this year.
The party members were kept in the dark until the time of filing in the presidential nomination.
This time round it is the secret amendment to the party constitution which has caught party members by surprise.
The UPND leadership ought to realise that transparency in the handling of such cardinal issues is of paramount importance. It cultivates public confidence and trust in the organisation structures and leadership.
The fire-fighting that ensued between the two party vice-presidents after it became very clear that Mr Hichilema had run out of options in pursuit of challenging presidential election results was not only confirmation of the power struggle in the party but was also testament that he (Mr Hichilema) was ineligible to stand in 2021 going by the party constitution.
The contradictions that emanated from the party leadership over the strategy that would be employed to keep the party intact in the next five years left many of its members doubtful of its survival.
In one breath, vice-president for administration Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) was calling for a revolution and allaying calls for a national party convention whereas vice-president for politics Dr Canisius Banda was calling for a convention.
However, we are not surprised that Mr Hichilema and his colleagues have resorted to circumventing the party constitution in order to silence his two vice-presidents over the potentially divisive issue. It merely shows how autocratic the UPND has become in a bid to fulfil its agenda against all odds.
We are rather shocked that the party’s secretary general issued the statement on Mr Hichilema’s eligibility to stand in 2021 a few hours before the party called for a leadership meeting in the afternoon yesterday. Was this a deliberate ploy to set an agenda for the meeting?
Suffice to say that the manner in which the statement was made prior to the caucus raises questions regarding the democratic process which must have been observed.
And this is how autocratic UPND has become. It’s the ‘Wa muyayaya’ syndrome for HH.