PF cadres have more rights in having handshakes with their president at the airport and any other place in Zambia. These cadres have become the strongest political pillar of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF). They are conscious of the significant role they are playing for the PF and are determined to be appreciated as the “real VIPs”. Who would then be the “Very Important Persons” in the PF today if not these young men and women who are putting their lives and souls at stake for the party?
The PF cadres are the real “trench soldiers”. They are everywhere they are needed. They carry out commands as given. They, at times, initiate action against opposition political parties on their own and only seek for protection from the leadership when things get out of hand. They are creating a visibly intimidating environment in our markets, bus stops, street corners and other public spaces to the pleasure and acknowledgment of the party leadership. A number of them have been maimed or lost lives in their skirmishes with the general public and opposition political parties. A few unlucky ones have had to spend some time in prison. However, the bigger picture is that the PF today has more trust in these cadres than in state institutions and law enforcement agencies. State institutions and agencies still exhibit some restraints from time to time but the cadres are not constrained by such restrictions. They are exactly what the PF immediately needs and will have to depend on for some time to come.
Most of these cadres are young, unemployed and see in their party a place they can call home. They find solidarity and fellowship in the group. The ability to intimidate and inflict pain on their perceived enemies brings newfound levels of self-confidence. The PF allows them a few short-term economic gains, which the neo-liberal capitalist system will continue to deny them. It is a painful but true reality that we see in all the other political parties. In other words, political parties are taking advantage of the hopelessness of the youth situation. But the young people are not dump – these are very smart beings. In return, they are telling the PF and the other political parties not just to use them, but appreciate them as the real VIPs in the political landscape of this country.