Sep 24, 2010

Failing to try

A while back I posted information about Elias Chipimo Jr and the political party he launched in March. So, just what is the fate of NAREP and its intrepid president eight months after the launch of the new political movement? I would say both have gone nowhere and are just another worthless political endeavour on the Zambian political scene. I typically don’t pay any mind to all the little pretentious political parties that seem to spring up like wild mushrooms in the rainy season, but for some reason Chipimo caught my attention.

His father is a veteran politician, and he has name recognition. He’s a young, successful lawyer, heading his own law firm these last seven years or so and seemingly has professional credibility. He hasn’t been elected to public office before, and this would indeed be his maiden voyage.

At the launch of NAREP Chipimo pitched himself as a leader seeking to bring back values based politics in Zambia, and to bring Zambians back into the fold of development through increased economic activities in various sectors. This certainly isn’t a new platform but he caught our attention, certainly mine of course, with his exuberance.

He visited the U.S., meeting with the mayor of Sacramento and other community leaders in what he billed as a means of learning how to run a successful political campaign as a young politician. He also spoke with people living in diaspora about his mission, and was interviewed on one of the blog radio shows.

So, he said all the right things and seemed to getting himself in order but what happened after that? Did anything happen? It would appear nothing happened. Did he think that setting up a party website and facebook account was going to be enough to replicate Obama’s unparalleled grassroots movement that saw millions of new voters get excited about a presidential election for the first time in their lives? Can he show that he has actively engaged the Zambian voters especially the youth, and brought them on board to show up and VOTE for him and other members of his party who may be contesting parliamentary seats?

I am disappointed not because I had necessarily had high hopes for NAREP, but because I find this to be a missed opportunity of epic proportions. The MMD has been government for 20 years and is flawed in many ways. We keep talking about bringing in new people, with fresh ideas to replace the old guard with their washed up ideas, and yet when you look at the young ‘leadership’ they just seem to be clueless on how to even begin. Do they even talk to each other, trying to formulate a plan of action? Perhaps it would help if they actually had a clear vision for where they want Zambia to be in the next 10, 20 and 30 years.

So, where does this leave us? Well, the current president has officially declared his intent to run for re-election. If he wins, he’ll leave office at the ripe old age of 79. And more power to him, since the opposition remains weak and disorganised! I won’t even bother talking about the main opposition contenders for obvious reasons. 

No, “Yes, we can” euphoria here…it’s time for a comforting cup of hot tea and biscuits. 

2 comments:

Hi Miss Bwalya,

This morning Elias Chipimo jnr, President of NAREP, held a Press Conference that I believe may answer some of the questions you have raised above about NAREP's seeming silence.

It looks like they had initially opted to establish a presence in the grassroots on their way to the 2011 General and Presidential Elections, however todays press conference reveals that they have now opted to contest the forthcoming by-elections.

A copy of the speech delivered today by Elias Chipimo jnr is available here - https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=19z90uV3TRQv-6Ui4YwL79yqhDTeK95VHmaqcX5RoaIk&hl=en

Thanks for the link. I am glad that NAREP is making the effort to field candidates in upcoming by-elections. However, I think they're still missing the larger point - where is their presence? Where are they making inroads within Zambia to get people engaged, and to show up on election day?

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