Hello my friends,
The election has come and gone and we are left with various party memorabilia including berets, work suits, glasses, caps etc. Clearly, this election set a new tone in political campaigns in Zambia with helicopters and endorsements everywhere.
I congratulate Hon. Inonge Wina as the first female Vice President of Zambia. This appointment demonstrates Zambia moving a step closer to having it’s first female President.
My analysis of this election is as follows:
1. After 50 years of independence, we are still challenged in terms of national unity as shown in the Southern Province vote. Much work will have to be done for Southerners to feel included in the One Zambia One Nation aspiration. We wait for the day when, like Sinda in eastern Province, other parties, apart from the UPND, can win some constituencies in the Southern Province.
2. The political instability in Western Province over the Barotse issue and general high poverty levels were clearly reflected in the anti-Government voting patterns there.
3. Even after much investment in the mines in North Western Province in the last 5 years, the people there feel left out in the enjoyment of the wealth from their natural resources. Infrastructure too has not been attended to especially the Chingola-Solwezi road. There has also been a cry about the lack of significant inclusion in cabinet. Their voting pattern illuminated their general dissatisfaction.
4. A significant increase of UPND votes were recorded in Lusaka, Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern, Muchinga, Central and Eastern provinces. On face value one would argue that the UPND has greatly increased it’s popularity. However, I think there is something else at play here.
You will recall the anti MMD/Chiluba sentiments in 2001 over the third term which led to the popularity of the UPND under Mazoka and the FDD took a strong foot print in Eastern Province. Once Levy was elected, all the UPND presence dwindled everywhere else except in Southern Province.
In my view, the high UPND votes are actually anti PF/Sata votes. Even new comers such as Eric Chanda of 4R seem to have done better in this by-election.
The country experienced such high levels of instability in the last 6 months that many felt it was best to change Government inspite of who took over or at what cost. You will note that even in Eastern Province, for the first time, the UPND beat all other parties at a Constituency level based on the Paya Farmer campaign associated with the PF. The UPND early campaign programme while the PF and MMD went through leadership wrangles also compounded the peoples disillusion with the PF Government, creating a sense of no real other alternative except for the UPND.
The PF lost this election and it was EL who won.
5. Back to the constitution matters, we have to address a number of issues. I have argued that since our laws do not allow for independent Presidential candidates, it means it’s the political party which gets elected based on it’s manifesto. As such, in the event of the demise of it’s flag bearer, the President, the party must within it’s ranks find a replacement and save tax payers from unnecessary by-elections. It is also my belief that in a general election, tax payers funds must not be wasted on Presidential candidates, who don’t have an agreed threshold of candidates for Members of Parliament, as printing ballot papers especially ones with 11 candidates costs a lot of money. This will encourage political parties to avoid being centred on an individual but on a team as any person intending to stand for President will push to have MPs.
A strong Parliament is good for our democracy and we should move away from political parties that are one Man and in name only.
6. The general voter apathy, normal in many by-elections, was also exacerbated by the many parliamentary by-elections witnessed in the last 3 years. The country has never stopped being in election mode since 2011. The fact that it is the rain and planting season also hampered voter turn out.
Going forward, the new President has much work to do to harmonise the aftermath of the just ended divisive election especially on tribal lines but also on the peoples dissatisfaction with the PF Government. It is just under two years to the next election and the campaign for 2016 may have already began.
These are my thoughts today!