My good Zambian blogger Cho raises an interesting point of view in his recent post
http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2007/09/quote-of-week-2nd-edition.html discussing recent political vacillations in Zambia.
However, in reaching that conclusion, we also have to accept that Mr Msika actions are part and parcel of democracy - the ability to freely choose which organisation you wish to join and even the freedom to change your mind after 48 hours! The challenge for political parties, is how to build parties that are resilient in face of this politics of poverty. Cho
Rather than justify such behavior as a preserve of a democratic system, I think this presents an opportunity for Zambians to right the cause of this expensive practice- that is a gross misunderstanding of democracy and the subsequent failure to define a political ideology or position.
The word Democracy comes from two Greek words: demos, meaning "the people," and kratein, meaning "to rule." These two words are joined together to form democracy, literally meaning "rule by the people" (Pious). There are democratic systems around the world functioning satisfactorily without the multitude of political factions (I choose to not to call them parties) that we have in Zambia.
In most systems, representatives form an independent ruling body for an election period charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's interest, but not as their proxy representatives—i.e., not necessarily always according to their wishes, but with enough authority to exercise swift and resolute initiative in the face of changing circumstances.
How diverse are the interests of the Zambian people, to justify so many political factions?
Not so diverse, I submit that, the average Zambian wants no more than two political entities. One to govern based on a popular vote the other to keep in check, the governing party to avoid excess and abuse of national resources.
In most developed democratic systems there are two political ideologies, conservative and liberal, Right and Left or like, I to put it - those that can govern and those that need to keep talking about how they would govern.
If Zambians demanded every politician or political party to define themselves in these more restrictive terms and not the current broad almost unlimited terms, we would as a nation save our meager financial resources been wasted on;
· The printing of multiple ballot papers representing each of the many political factions and candidates in general and by elections.
· Forced by- elections due to defections.
· The attendant high costs of running a parliament filled of several different political factions.
· And avoid the risk of violence having so many political factions generates.
The United States, a major driving force of the spread of democracy, did not start off with that many parties. Though composed of diverse immigrants from the beginning, the first two political parties in the United States were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. These later evolved into Democratic and Republican parties, the two major political ideologies. Further, in case one does not agree with either platform, there is the option of independent. However, there is only one independent senator in the US congress - Joe Lieberman, who was actually a democrat but was forced to run as an independent because of his support of the Bush position on the Iraq war.
Political freedom is not absolute, Mr. Msika or any other Zambian politician’ ability to freely choose which organization they wish to join and even the freedom to change their minds after 48 hours ends at the point where that freedom begins to cost Zambians tax money that could go towards national development projects instead of been wasted on unnecessary by - elections.