19 January 2014

Zambia: 'Opposition Parties Merger Not Feasible'

POLITICAL analyst Thomas Mabwe has charged that calls for opposition parties to merge ahead of the 2016 elections will remain a lip service because of leaders' desire to unseat the ruling party.

Andrew Banda, who is son to former president Rupiah Banda, recently announced plans to bring major political parties together before 2016 presidential elections.

It is believed that Mr Banda has already met with some leaders from major opposition political parties in a bid to convince them to surrender their presidency to one person.

But in an interview during the week, Mr Mabwe, a lecturer in the school of humanities at Zambian Open University (ZAOU), said past experiences have showed that political mergers were only aimed at displacing the ruling party.

"Mergers have had silent conflicts on who should be the president and the main problem is that they are aimed at unseating the party in power," he said.

"But with this objective, the opposition is on a weaker ground, because they need to share a number of objectives rather than removing the ruling party."

UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said while the party welcomed unity of purpose by the opposition, his party could not merge with another party at the moment because there were many considerations to be made.

"Andrew is free to talk to anybody but as UPND, we feel there are many issues to be considered before going into a merger with progressive opposition parties," he said.

"For now, we welcome unity of purpose from other opposition parties who are able to help in resolving high cost of living, bad governance by the Patriotic Front and the constitution."

He noted that talking about a merger now was premature because there were many legal aspects that needed to be addressed before joining forces with other parties.

However, MMD presidential spokesperson, Mohabi Lungu said the party had received various proposals on the need to merge but would only join others once it was convinced that the measure would enhance development.

"We welcome any initiative of brining opposition together but we should look at development issues rather than just looking at who should be the president," he said.

He said the merger among the opposition parties should be based on common goals and not the desire to become the president of the alliance.

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