Thu, 01 Feb 2018 08:23:02 +0000
By BENNIE MUNDANDO
The preponderance of Bembas in the top leadership of the Patriotic Front (PF) in the Southern province is enstranging the party from the people who would otherwise join if more local Tongas were in leadership.
THE Patriotic Front (PF) should recruit and promote indigenous Tonga leadership in the Southern Province if it is to gain popularity.
The current tendancy where Bembas held most leadership positions in the province alienated the general membership.
The PF has consistently failed to make significant inroads in Southern Province because it has failed to localise leadership by putting people who can be identified with the region, says a founding member in the province, Mr Silvester Simayaba.
Mr. Simayaba, who is also former Chikankata district commissioner, said as long as Tongas in the PF were given a back seat while people from other regions were given preference to run the party at various levels, it will be difficult to mobilise the party as most members and those willing to join were concerned with the tribal distribution of leadership roles.
He said while party positions in the province should not be a preserve for the Tongas only, the tribal balance in the structures in the province favoured non-Tongas and that as a result, party mobilisation had become difficult thereby stagnating the general membership.
Mr. Simayaba said the locals had failed to identify themselves with their own with whom they could easily identify and relate.
“The PF is loved by almost everyone but if we are to grow in Southern Province, we need to rebrand the party.
At the moment, we are stunted and this is why year-in-year-out, we have the same numbers and these have been reflecting even on the votes we are getting. This is a worrying situation because membership only ends at party registers which should not be the case.
“The party in the province needs to be localised to foster a local face. It is sad that from Siavonga to Kazungula, we have 14 districts but all these districts are run by non Tongas. I am not saying only Tongas must run the party but let there be tribal balance.
For example, if a Tonga is put as district chairperson, his or her vice must be from another region but the current situation has rendered Tongas as mere spectators in the party and this is why we are not growing,” Mr. Simayaba said.
He said there was need for serious rebranding of the party by replicating the leadership structures obtaining in other provinces where tribal balancing was enhanced as party membership and mobilisation had hit a snag due to certain issues such as leadership composition which the party had neglected.
“If you look at what is happening in provinces like Western, Copperbelt, Muchinga and Northern, you will realise that the local people, the residents of these provinces, have a majority share of party leadership positions and this is because it gives the local people in these areas a sense of belonging because they are able to identify with their own.
“I am not trying to be tribal and I am not saying people from other regions cannot work in the province but when you look at the proportional disparities among tribes, you will see that what I am talking about is true.
“When we started mobilising the party in 2002 in the province, we were branded as people led by a mad president by our own relatives but when they realised the ideals we were advancing, they later joined because they could easily relate with us unlike the current situation,” he said.