In 1969, South African popular author Credo Mutwa argued that the Bantu do not forgive and forget. Unlike Jesus who taught that “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also,” the Bantu will wait until you look the other side before striking your cheek twice as hard, so the prophetic Mutwa argued. Based on this theory, he predicted the Rwanda genocide in which the Hutu tribe rose against the Tutsi in 1994.
The 2015 election clearly showed how the ghost of tribal mistrusts over 50 years ago still haunts us. Kenneth Kaunda’s rise to power and subsequent defeat of Harry M. Nkumbula is definitely behind the ill tribal feelings between the Southerners (Westerners) and Northerners (Easterners).
Until 1973, these provinces voted for their own—wako ni wako—the caliber of the leader mattered less.
Let us face it–the 2015 elections shamefully exposed the ethnic divisions in our beloved nation—people voted based on tribal stereotypes. In fact, many Bembas denied HH their votes simply because he is Tonga. Similarly, the Tongas saw and come 2016 will see nobody on the ballot but their own–HH. So unless we change, Zambia’s future is very precarious.
I predicted President Edgar Lungu’s victory based on the number of candidates, the tribal nature of Zambian politics, limited voters and other advantages the PF enjoyed; and for sure, the UPND lost. But the biggest loser in this election is not HH but the MMD and the nation—raising critical questions as to how the Mumba led Party will reorganize for the 2016 elections. Is this the death of the MMD as a political party? Kaya!
our electoral rules are anti-voter friendly, anti-student, and disqualify many people from casting their ballots.
It is too early to conclude that the UPND has penetrated Zambia since the MMD dissolved – it voted for either PF or UPND. While both parties maintained their strongholds, they benefitted from the MMD votes—making the election so competitive. In fact, the minimal gains for the PF in the UPND strongholds and vice versa were mostly due to the MMD votes. So unless the MMD permanently dissolves and joins PF or UPND, the outcome of 2016 elections is any one’s guess.
The small “margin” of the PF victory can suggest that HH will easily win the 2016 elections. Nonetheless, unlike the 2015 elections, the 2016 tripartite elections will introduce new voters while Councilors, MPs, and the President will be campaigning for their jobs. Thus, we expect much higher voter turnout than 2015. Besides, as the adoption of MPs draws near, some rebel MPs who endorsed EL or HH may be forced to switch sides in 2016, or go independent if they are not adopted. And if we demand 50 + 1, small parties will play a critical role in the outcome of the 2016 elections.
Justice Irene Mambilima was right—if the election was stolen from HH, UPND was part of it. This does not mean HH must concede. But if his case rests solely on the Muvi TV and Zambian Watchdog pollsters, then he should fire his strategists. In our 50 years history, no presidential candidate has won by 82%. Frankly, normal social scientists would have dismissed such polls with ultimate contempt.
Relatedly, the 2015 elections exposed the inanity of Zambia’s electoral rules. The Zambian soccer team, for example, is flying the national flag at the Africa Cup of Nations. However, the entire entourage was denied the right to vote. Similarly, all those in diplomatic positions or resident in other parts of the world were disqualified from casting their votes. As we move towards the 50 + 1 vote in 2016, one vote can make a difference between losing or winning the election.
Justice Mambilima’s request for extra powers for the Electoral Commission of Zambia needs supporting, but so does the electorate. Post-jubilee Zambia needs to make voting easy. Out of 5,166,084 registered voters, less than a third (1,671,662) voted. In Raised Hopes, Shattered Dreams, I argue that our electoral rules are anti-voter friendly, anti-student, and disqualify many people from casting their ballots. The country does not allow early or absentee voting, but requires people to vote in person and to go back to where they registered to cast their votes. Besides, why should we continue to waste money on voters’ cards—is the National Registration Card not enough?
Madam Mambilima, time has come to make voting easy—every qualified citizen needs extra powers to access the ballot!
By Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma