Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Thinking Zambians Vote for a Country Not For a Candidate


ROBBY Chivweta, first person to cast a vote at Mushitala Polling Station in yesterday Solwezi Central by-election.

It has been interesting to watch Zambian politicians, their supporters and hear “politics” in this great land of Zambia. As a foreigner of Ugandan origin, in some respects, Zambian politics is light years ahead of the politics in my native Uganda. In Uganda, we have had a near emperor or king type politics with “elections” every five years yielding the same man over and over. The morning-after results have not changed except increasing repression and corruption. President Museveni has been a tired and perhaps even a divisive face of Uganda’s agonizing politics for the last twenty eight years. Despite Zambia’s current political woes, your wounds are better and shallow than ours.

Zambia is interesting in its brand of politics. It has multiple candidates under a plural type of politics that encourages near full expression of opposing political ideals. Except for tongue slip-ups by political surrogates or imposters, most candidates have been civil though not as inspiring as I would have desired.

Zambia like the country of my birth is amidst deep economic problems. There is rising unemployment (particularly youth unemployment), worrying population numbers, uninspiring health facilities (actually, “disease-uncaring” outposts), poor-quality education, entrenched corruption. The list is unending. Therefore, voting for a country rather than any candidate is doubly important. But first, why is the fourth estate sleeping, dozing or impotent?

Public debates

In these circumstances, one would expect Zambian candidates to repeatedly flog these issues or at least to display mastery of strategies for lasting solutions out of the problems besetting the country. Except for two candidates, who seem to understand real challenges besetting Zambians, the rest are seemingly “escorts” or wanna-bees. Unless I have missed this,

it is as shocking as it is surprising, for example, that the two front candidates have never held a public debate

The blame lies, in my opinion, on the electoral commission of Zambia (ECZ), the campaign teams, the media and the civil society. Observing the candidates,seeking out their tone and body language and their thinking on serious social, political and economic (especially economic issues) would provide the voters stark choices. This is important because having these candidates head to head in a neutral environment of a hall or a studio moderated by a council of neutral elders helps us “read” their mind and imagine their hearts. It would be a sanitized environment devoid of the confusing noise of crowds. It would be free of parochial supporters (some of whom do not even understand “their” party platforms on different issues). Certainly, the studio would lack suspect campaign teams some of whom do not even understand their own candidate. There would of course be the issue of neutral interviewers—but these abound in Zambia. There are Zambians who genuinely love their country and have no extra dogs to fight for a particular candidate. They would guide these candidates through furnace of questions.

  • What is your source of campaign funds?
  • Are you using government resources for campaigns?
  • What prevents you from continuing this resource abuse (and potentially plunder) once in government?
  • Is only infrastructure development a cornerstone of your economic policy?
  • Why do you think your opponent can be a good president not only why he would be a bad president?
  • Will you divest your interest in your businesses on your first day in office to avoid potential conflict of interest?
  • There is a notion that you are a perpetual drunk, can you assure us that that allegation is malicious, or that such a habit will not interfere with your running of state affairs?

These are serious questions for which the media has robbed Zambians of answers from these candidates. There is still some time left to rectify this mega error of absence of public debates among these candidates.

Please debate issues and candidate traits

It is not adequate to argue that HH has a high ground or that EL is the real deal, or NM is a perpetual presidential material who never becomes one. In fact it would be cheapening our intellect to argue that Zambians don’t like one candidate or prefer one candidate over the other without the voters seeing a live contest of ideas between candidates.

Most times these candidates are preaching to the already converted. If they are to win, they need to convert more “independent” voters who are tired of the status quo and yet are wary and uncertain of the self-claiming angels. Part of endearing one’s self to the electorate is being able to debate and explain complex issues in simple words to an electorate. The way is to empathize with the electorate. The candidate should not get a vote because of naked tribalism, or that his personality is “bubbly” or “interesting”. These are certainly good traits to connect with the people but these traits and personality disposition alone are neither sufficient nor necessary for the affairs of the state.

I would prefer a candidate who is sometimes “warm” but extremely reflective. The matter of running a State requires a calm rationalizing approach. It is about an ability and capacity to envision where Zambia will be in the next 20 or 50 years or even where it should have been at this time or thinking and learning from missed or squandered opportunities.

The matters of the State are certainly not about a candidate having prior proximity to power, having been an ancillary witness to influence or even having a sense of entitlement.

In fact, in Zambia’s case, a candidate should not receive a vote solely because of his prior association to the status quo or more directly a “sympathy” vote. There may be moments where emotions seep into us. However, it is potentially dangerous to choose the captain of the State without cold rationalization of a candidate’s ability to shepherd social, political, Constitutional and economic aspects of the State, especially the economy. Whether you like it or not, a candidate with the ability and capacity to ensure continued supply of my meal mealie (code for vision for job creation), has vision for my education and plan for my health facilities is my man! Let me shoot straight; in our poor countries, the status quo or the former regime often stinks so fresh thinking and thinkers endear themselves to thinking and patriotic voters. Notice I mention “regime” rather than president because the candidate may have distanced him or herself from the terrible past of his party.

Every Country Has a Cartel

Every so often in the media or when I interact with my Zambian friends—and my Zambian in-laws, I read and hear about “Cartels”. Almost every state has “cartels” with various shades of severity to the functioning of the state. These cartels go by different names in different environments, and have varying influences on levers of government. In fact, it is difficult to avoid the politically manipulative nature of cartels. What we could do, however, is to blunt these cartels to the extent that the harm they do the State is minimal. And this is hard work.

So when I hear allegations that HH or PF is under a cartel, I wonder if these accusers are first graders or even naïve social commentators.

What they forget is that these cartels have no permanent allies in party candidates. What is paramount to cartels is that these party candidates or affiliated networks maintain the cartels interests. Pure and Simple.

For the electorate, the issue then is to carefully rationalize who among the candidates is more pro-Zambia than pro-cartel or pro-corrupt networks. Moreover, awareness of the potential dangers of these cartels should encourage citizens to act as alert watch dogs so they can bark and forthrightly remove these politicians from office at the slightest stench of corruption and at the earliest awareness of cartel capture of the state. Better fresh office bearers than a continuing bunch of plunderers and incompetents. Moreover, the cheapness of cheapening a candidate rather than grilling the candidate for serious national challenges is not, and should not be, Zambian.

It is un-Zambian to call people names or soil their persona. Iam talking about names like Vodka Lungu or Satanist HH.

And as in a functioning democracy with equal justice for all, these men have all the right to seek re-dress from courts of law to right the wrongs from intellectually poor political gofers. The poverty of ideas from these minions distracts them and potentially us from the contest of ideas that would propel Zambia forward. Theirs is rather espousing Kachasu or Lutuku-induced type point of views which shames all of us as a poor struggling nation.

On HH and privatization of mines

Another thoughtless remark that HH’s limited and challenged analysts peddle is that HH sold Zambia on the cheap during privatization. Why should we think, as a parallel example that a Zambian teacher should receive a low salary or even volunteer for his services because our government opened our schools to international students, and did not think through policy? As a consultant and not a government official to the privatization process, why would we expect HH not to charge whatever fee for his services? If he was exorbitant, the government and the process should have avoided his excellent professional services. Pure and simple. If professionalism is expensive, why should we seek out careers or should we be simply volunteering? Well, I know Ignorance is cheap; perhaps we should embrace it instead of seeking out professionalism and professionals. I know which alternative most straight thinking Zambians would embrace.

First a mere candidate then a uniter of one nation one Zambia

The campaign toll can be exacting on a presidential candidate. The president-elect will have to set aside prior hasty alliances, cheap rhetoric, fickle supporters in the demanding calls of statesmanship.Where a candidate was once demonized by his opponents or endured unwelcome labels of “Satanism”, he or she would now have to cultivate partnerships in the legislative duties of the presidency.

Again, the assertion that a president-elect will have a hard time working with opponents speaks of narrow-mindlessness, vision-lessness, and intellectual barrenness.

The corollary of which is that unless opponents or elected MPs are swimming in point-less narrow-mindedness and devoid of love for Zambia, the president-elect whatever his party, should get the votes necessary to conduct government business. The president-elect or the president of Zambia would not be a president for UPND or PF or MMD or FODEP alone. A mere candidate now becomes a uniter-in-chief, a coalition-builder, rallying everyone to one Zambia one Nation. Indeed the mantle of statesmanship brings a candidate to more scrutiny than ever before. Prior deals made in private life and the supposed laxity or absence of checks and balances now become the order of the day particularly if the in-coming president is of a serious and reflective type who runs the country on efficiency-based metrics of a private corporation. In other words, EL or HH would have a 24 hour surveillance of his words, deeds and deals!

Zambians should carefully think through, and search their hearts and minds before voting for a candidate

They should ignore divisive simpletons who are bent on sowing discord and not promoting a united Zambia.

Serious Thinking Times

Zambians should be aware that some players in the current market of presidential candidates are full of limited narrow self-interest couched in the poverty of retrogressive tribalism, pettiness and reckless partisanship. For some media outlets and commentators, the poverty of ideas and lazy intellectual analysis of serious challenges besetting Zambia is evident. Imagine, for example, one tired assertion that a president-elect HH will use, abuse and misuse Public Order Act against his opponents. Is this new? Is this even news? Every leader—anywhere, particularly in some of Africa’s banana republics occasionally pursue self-interest political agenda under the guise of maintaining “law and order” or in the interest of “national security”. Rather than associating these mostly “third-world constants” of ruthlessness to soil some presidential candidates in order to scare voters, Zambians and the so-called elite commentators should be assessing what each candidate can potentially bring to the table.

This includes management experience, capacity and facility with the law, ability to advise negotiating teams about the implications of international trade, debt policy, etc. The best check against an incumbent leader gone wild is an engaged electorate particularly after the votes have been counted, and the losers have gracefully conceded defeat—the Rupiah Banda style, and the winners have not displayed pride—the previous PF style.

Most importantly, there is no perfect candidate. Not one.

Zambians will likely be voting into office an imperfect person. Imperfect though that person may be, the President-elect should have a management capacity and vision for serious challenges besetting Zambia. I love Zambia, and I’m proud I married into these interesting political in-laws. Good luck on Jan 20th 2015. May your candidate win or accept defeat with grace!

By Emmanuel Acheta


    • GBM is now on Flight HH2015….. Next to get on board is Miles and the whole Matero PF constituency leadership.

      I want what Emmanuel mwamba (aka Katondo boys) will say.

    • Saki refuses to rejoin UPND

      By Lambwe Kachali

      Thursday June 19, 2008 [04:00]

      UNITED Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota yesterday said UPND president Hakainde Hichilema is not honest in his offer of reconciliation because he has failed to deal with tribalism in the party. Responding to Hichilema who on Tuesday invited him to rejoin UPND in the spirit of national unity and development, Sikota said Hichilema’s offer to the leadership and membership of ULP to rejoin UPND was not genuine and was laced with thorny issues.

      Sikota accused Hichilema of playing to the gallery by using the press without apologising to the people that suffered at the 2006 UPND convention and those who were still affected by the alleged tribalism in the party. He said if Hichilema really wanted…

    • True, let these candidates debate on issues that affect Zambians. it is sad to watch them on TV signing stupid song/ slogs than taking about what they will do to Zambian people.

      HH, as much as he is the most preferred, has also joined the stupidity of shameless promises. With Lungu following suit on lies from SATA.

      Zambia can do better, we are not many and can have better life. This issue is these selfish leaders who will do anything to get in to state house for their own benefits.

      let us vote for a right person as the article says. let us think about the future of our children and all other poor Zambians. let us think on how we can help every Zambian to come out of man made poverty?? by the politicians.

      Vote wisely think future.

    • This is a very thought provoking article, but you can already see from the comments that have followed that the ‘urban Zambian’ is not progressive. While I accept that there are paid bloggers, there appears to be no appetite for fair analysis in Zambian politics; we are too lazy to investigate issues with an open mind. This is particularly the case with the ‘Urban Zambian’ armed with internet bundle and little else. As an example, Mr HH says he will reduce the cost of electricity. Who will this benefit the most? The mines obviously; who pay little or no tax in Zambia while the country gets a Eurobond to boost electricity generation capacity. How will Zesco pay back their portion of the Eurobond? Yes this is the man lauded as an Economic Manager and next President!


      GBM seems to have seen and witnessed the unstoppable wind of change sweeping through Zambia and rumour has it that he now endorsed HH to move the country forward.

      Even PF camp is fast crumbling. Very soon Luo will endorse HH. Why is she following him.

      HH has left for North Western after MMD has moved to Western. HH finished campaigns in Eastern province within schedule while PF is in disarray.

      I wont be surprised to hear that PF thugs under Luo or any body else have also followed HH in North western province.

      Infact what is likely to happen is that Lungu will change his mind and decide to follow HH in Northwestern.

      PF should just withdraw from the from race and go back and reorganise them selves in preparation for 2016.


      HH ‘s team has welcomed the presidential debate on 30 Dec 2014.

      How ever a strong rumour from a very reliable source says the PF candidate E Lungu will not take part because they do not want their candidate to be exposed. PF has given an excuse that, Lungu will be very busy campaigning instead of debating.

      Well, we are yet to hear from PF cadres here on LT if indeed Lungu will take part on.

      Vote HH

    • GBM has joined the WINNING TEAM, UPND camp.

      THIS IS WHAT I CALL a GREAT DECISION no TRIBAL INCLINATION. Zambia’s DEMOCRACY IS DEVOLVING lets support Tonga, Bemba, Lozi etc as long they ve SOMETHING TO OFFER. VJ and OTHER TONGAs worked (in fact they TOILED) with BEMBA GOVTS.

      In fact NORTHERNERS AND SOUTHERNERS were one when fighting for INDEPENCE how come NOW PEOPLE want to work on TRIBAL LINES ? NO way ? WE ve one Zambia.

    • This article says it all about Zambian thinking and my infamous claim that “the majority of Zambians are dull and gullible”.
      It should not take a Ungandan to raise the fact that Zambians should vote for “substance” and not “empty” promises.
      If we really cared about our country and the direction we are headed, we would not have Edgar Lungu in the front line for Presidential election. He is part of the “regime” that has failed Zambia with unprecedented lies and naked plunder.
      HH should have been at the forefront but he, too, should be loosing popularity because his promises are “empty promises” and are mounting everyday. He simply CANT deliver free education for all Zambians. Not in the current state.
      Zambians need to wake up and use their votes wisely.
      Great article though…

    • Great article my friend. But be ware, Lungu does want foreign born Zambians to despise the PF so he will send his team to bundle you up and deport you to Uganda.

      Lungu has deported many foreign born people. Thats the danger of electing people like Lungu into power.

    • The Rally for Mpulungu at Muzabwera Grounds is tmrw but people have gathered today

      The warm up to tmrw rally is underway in Mpulungu


      2015 VOTE PF(EDGAR)


    • Saki refuses to rejoin UPND

      By Lambwe Kachali

      Thursday June 19, 2008 [04:00]

      UNITED Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota yesterday said UPND president Hakainde Hichilema is not honest in his offer of reconciliation because he has failed to deal with tribalism in the party. Responding to Hichilema who on Tuesday invited him to rejoin UPND in the spirit of national unity and development, Sikota said Hichilema’s offer to the leadership and membership of ULP to rejoin UPND was not genuine and was laced with thorny issues.

      Sikota accused Hichilema of playing to the gallery by using the press without apologising to the people that suffered at the 2006 UPND convention and those who were still affected by the alleged tribalism in the party. He said if Hichilema really wanted…


      Thats stale news from Post news paper aimed at painting HH black. How ever no one will look at that any more.

      If HH was indeed elected fraudulently, why did n’t Saki take UPND that endorsed HH to court just like Sampa did?

      Being a prominent lawyer himself, Saki saw that there was no merit in that accusation because there was clearly no evidence with which to demand the courts to intervene in UPND presidential elections.

      Therefore your accusations are null and void. Next please.

    • wanzelu
      Which sane person would support what happened at the UPND convention? The infamous ” ONLY A TONGA SHOULD TAKEOVER UPND”. The physical manhandling. Mr. Sakwiba Sikota has every right not to accept Mr. HH invitation because he hasn’t apologised.

  1. Great article; we need Presidential debates ASAP between the front runners. Let them tell us what they will do for Zambia. I am tired of silly “slogans” like vote EL2015…..without explaining why. By the way PF copied this #tag from UPND’s FlightHH2015.
    HH will win the debates no doubt and hence the reason why Lungu is not keen to debate because he has no vision, he said it himself

    • Economic Association of Zambia has organised a public debate and all major contenders have confirmed participation according to Dipak Patel. Debate is on wednesday 30th Dec 2014 at pamodzi Hotel.

    • @Cirque du PF

      Are they going to be on TV? It will be interesting to watch Kamina misa Lungu foaming at the mouth like a demented lunatic while he tries to articulate Sata’s violent vision. He will obviously be already fortified by treble whiskies to have some dutch courage in a bid to outwit HH. I wish I was in Zambia, I wouldn’t miss this for anything.

    • Abana bamfumu
      When did Lungu refuse a debate? Can you make reference please.
      We are in a democracy, any debate must involve all candidates not two, three or four. Nevers Mumba must be heard just like Lungu and HH, the same is true with Miyanda, Chipimo, Eric, Kaunda, Nawakwi and whoever else is contesting.

  2. U re a chima foolish foreigner, why d’nt u do all this in your on stupid country .By the way, who asked u 4 ur foolish advise & when re u going back home. chima genocide supporter iwe .Next time send this article 2 ur chima useless mother land,chima foolish UgAnDiAn

    • You mean the level of english competency among some Zambians is this bad? Leave the man alone. You comment suggests that you are an eighth of his brain power!

  3. Zambian man jailed for two years for torching buildings during the London riots can’t be kicked out of Britain because he ‘would not be welcomed’ in homeland.
    In his witness statement he said: ‘I would have nowhere to live and would not be able to support myself.

    ‘I would be homeless and living on the streets. I feel that as a mixed race person, I would be subject to attack and fear for my personal safety.’

    His mother, in her witness statement, added: ‘I do not have any family in Zambia. Joseph does not know anyone in Zambia; he would have nowhere to live and would end up on the streets.

    ‘He would have difficulty fitting in to any local community. He is of mixed race ethnicity. I do not have any home town I belong to in Zambia.’

  4. Secretary to the Cabinet has released the following program for Inauguration of His Excellency President HH on 24.01.15
    10.00 All invited Guests to be sited
    10.10 Arrival of service chiefs and Diplomats
    10.15 Arrival of Chief Justice 10.20 Arrival of Acting President Dr G.Scott
    10.25 Arrival of President Elect- His Excellency Hichilema H.
    10.26.30 National Athem 10.27 HH takes Oath of Office & Receives Instrument of Power fro G.Scott
    10.30 Speech by His Excellency President Hichilema H.
    11.00 21 Gun Salute & National Athem End of Program
    14.00 President HH Announces his Cabinet and the Kwacha jumps to K2.5/$1 Zambia heads for massive economic, social development under HH for next 11 Years.!

  5. Burial Program for Late PF Party & Government

    Ths’ to Inform all PF Cadres, Thugs, Panga, Machetes,Relatives and Friends tat the Late PF & Unruly Government tat departed us Together with Michael Sata will be put to rest on 20 January 2015 at the Bottom of Sea ( To avoid nightmares Like US did to Bin Laden) as per program below:

    09.00 hrs Mourners gathered at Mortuary & PF being wrapped in dumping black plastic
    09.30 hrs Church Service at Embasy Park to reunite ghost with owner
    10.30 hrs Depart to Sea
    11.00 hrs Committal of Late PF & Government & Lowering into sea
    11.45 hrs Laying of Wreath
    12.00 hrs Life History by -Inonge Wina
    12.10 hrs Speech by Famly Rep-E.Lungu
    12.15 hrs Speech by Govern Rep-Dr.G.Scott
    12.30 Closing Player- Wyinter Kabimba ( as he…

  6. PF has done more than what we expected them to do. it is going to be a mistake to give these projects to HH who has never worked in Govt. Zambians crooks and criminals use sweet words then bite you

  7. Yes as you said you were not privy to the facts. What if HH received a call from his uncle (Ben Mwiinga) informing him that FTJ wanted a named company valued at so much as FTJ had a friend who was prepared to pay only that amount. HH calls in a property valuation company say (Mulenga and associates) and tells them to lower the value of the property to so much and in return for their report, HH will pay them so much. Armed with the doctored valuation report HH puts the doctored value as true value of the property and in return HH gives his report to FTJ. FTJ sales the company to his “friend” for a song and HH is awarded more companies to privatise. Was it ETHICAL for HH who privatised Lima bank to buy a house from the same bank he was in charge of privatising.


      I know you very desperate to hold on to your job. But the truth is whether Lungu or HH takes the reign your job is on the line.

    • Not forgetting he has shares in all the companies he privatised , is he willing to divest his interests? Not the greedy stingy HH we know.
      Bloody satanist !

  8. @Insp7 you are fun man hahahahaha.
    GBM has joined the WINNING TEAM, UPND camp.

    THIS IS WHAT I CALL a GREAT DECISION no TRIBAL INCLINATION. Zambia’s DEMOCRACY IS DEVOLVING lets support Tonga, Bemba, Lozi etc as long they ve SOMETHING TO OFFER. VJ and OTHER TONGAs worked (in fact they TOILED) with BEMBA GOVTS.

    In fact NORTHERNERS AND SOUTHERNERS were one when fighting for INDEPENCE how come NOW PEOPLE want to work on TRIBAL LINES ? NO way WE ve one Zambia.


    Hakainde Hichilema (HH) will be sworn in as Zambia’s Sixth President on 24th January 2015. Cabinet office has invited presidents from SADC region to witness the occasion. The swearing ceremony will be held at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia.

    For further information visit cabinet office website.

  10. Powerful article and educative indeed. HH is ready for any debate and that’s Zambia forward and democracy!! I salute GBM who has broken the tribal element in some people but wants development in our mother Zambia!! Keep it up!! Let’s develop Zambia to benefit every one and not individuals!! It takes katondo and his colleagues who have not positive contributions rather just insult on our media!! Please we are still looking forward to the debates. Let it not be one debate but at least three to scrutinize these guys before they finish our resources!! So far HH stands best,then Chipimo, I think even Nawakwi can contribute favourably and unselfishly!! Mile can do much better than the choices of some characters!! This our country no one can make it better but we ourselves as citizens!!…

  11. any person coming in the country from anywhere in the world will tell you that zambians are blind when it comes to voting. they get amazed at how gullible we are. i have tried to explain to 10 foreigners the attributes of the 10 aspiring candidates and all they say is there is no need to blink twice only HH and Edith Nawakwi are credible candidates. the only thing they mention about nawakwi is that she needed some MPs.

  12. It has been discovered that people who comment based on tribal lines who for some time have been masquerading as bembas are actually aliens from Zaire who came into Zambia using backdoors. Real bembas are are social, intelligent, respectful, have no problem to mix no wonder they are found everywhere east, west, south and central. They too, are good analysers and support any QUALITY leader. These facts are there in schools, churches and anywhere else. The people on this platform who insult are ba ‘mwisa’ who came running and now they want to establish themselves here. These tribal remarks where not here even in the pre-independence time when actually people were primitive. Mainza Chona could hand over power to KK selflessly. In the 1964 elections H Nkumbula told the whites that his votes…

  13. Good article bt maybe u missed one point,the allegation is not that mr hh ws exorbitant when chargin 4 his services,rather,the allegation is dat underhand methods were used and the whole process ws marred by corruption and mr hh is alleged to hav benefited frm true thiz allegations r I dont kno.i there4 ask mr hh to clarify this

  14. Great article and how I wished many Zambians would read and appreciate it.

    Yes Zambian politics are mostly based on slogans and who could lie and bribe their way to the top. The problem is the electorates themselves. Most voters are uneducated street vendors in urban areas and uneducated and poor citizens in the country side or rural areas. Most have no intellectual ability to read through the political rhetoric and slogans. Even a debate would need to be translated into local languages for everyone to understand and comprehend the issues discussed, that is if they bother to tune in. I mean if the so called educated are dumb and naive they can’t even distinguish between reality and fantasy.

    Indeed we still need light yrs before our politics can mature.

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