Electoral officers, agents and monitors inspecting the Ballot Boxes at Rainbow Africa polling station in Livingstone yesterday shortly before the opening of the Polls yesterday. Picture by BRIAN HATYOKA
FILE: Electoral officers, agents and monitors inspecting the Ballot Boxes at Rainbow Africa polling station in Livingstone yesterday shortly before the opening of the Polls yesterday. Pictureby BRIAN HATYOKA

By Isaac Mwanza

Introduction

There are questions that are forming on whether the current by-election results have any pointers to the 2021 electoral outcomes and whether the opposition will do any better than they did in the 2016 elections. An outright answer to that question depends on a number of variables but any political party ought to take stock of lessons from by-election results in order to plan for general elections. For winners of by-elections, it is also important to do a self-introspection of their wins and what it may entail. I will specifically look at the mayoral by-election result in Lusaka district, a hotspot and cosmopolitan voting district, to analyse whether the ruling party and opposition political parties are getting stronger or weaker.

A brief of the 2016 Lusaka Mayoral election

In 2016, the voter turnout for mayoral election in Lusaka District stood at 55.38%. Barely two (2) years later, only about half of the 55% turned up to vote in mayoral elections, represented by 23.13% of registered voters in Lusaka District. In 2016 the now late Wilson Kalumba obtained 270, 161 votes with the UPND’s Maureen Mwanawasa polling 150, 807.

The better-performed candidates in third and fourth places in 2016 were independents, namely, Fisho Mwale and Elias Mpondela who polled 18, 299 and 6,410 votes, respectively, representing a fraction of voters that neither agreed with the PF nor UPND. The total number of voters who cast their votes but did not agree with established political parties in 2016 stood at 28, 569 voters, representing 6.15% of people who voted. The Peoples Alliance for Change (PAC) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) are new entrants in 2018 who have replaced the Independents.

A glance into the 2016 Mayoral by-election

All things being equal, a mathematician would have expected the parties who took part in the 2018 mayoral by-election in Lusaka District to obtain half of their original results from the 2016 mayoral elections. At 23.13% voter turnout in 2018 elections, the PF candidate should have received about 135,081 votes while the UPND candidate should have received about 75,404 votes.

However, PF’s Miles Sampa (now His Worship the Mayor of Lusaka) only managed to get 81, 936 votes compared to the expected 135,081, meaning 39.34% of those who voted for the PF candidate in 2016 mayoral elections didn’t vote for Mr. Sampa. The UPND’s Kangwa Chileshe polled 36, 753 votes compared to the expected 75,404 plus votes entails 51.26% of voters who voted for the UPND candidate 2016 didn’t vote for UPND’s Kangwa Chileshe.

On the other hand, the two parties that are new entrants in 2018 mayoral by-election polled 7,741 (PAC) and 2,645 votes. No one can tell whether the 28,569 voters who voted for independent candidates in 2016 mayoral elections in Lusaka district voted for PAC or NDC in 2018 by-elections but assuming the two new entrants could have benefited from their vote, a conclusion I am reluctant to make, at least half (14,285) of these should have turned up to give these two parties the votes. The PAC and NDC candidates got a combined total of 10,386 in the 2018 by-election elections. Not very bad, if this represents those who had earlier voted for independents in 2016.

The question is, what political parties should make of these results and comparisons?

2018 Electoral voting pattern

Firstly, it is clear that the voting pattern in Lusaka’s cosmopolitan district is based on party lines and nothing to do with the tribal identity of any candidate. 2 years after the 2016 elections, the ruling Patriotic Front still remains the strongest among the grassroots registered voters, with at least over 60% of those who voted for them in 2016 still willing to give their party the votes.

On the other hand, the UPND still remains the largest opposition party in Lusaka district although it must be noted that among its 2016 supporters, only about 49% were willing to turn up and vote for the party in 2018 mayoral by-elections in Lusaka district.

For the PAC and NDC, PAC appears to be the beneficiary of voters who did not like any of the established political parties in 2016. For NDC, it is a safe assumption that the majority of its 2,645 voters in the last election largely came from those who voted for the Patriotic Front in 2016 than any other party, taking into account how the NDC was formed and its membership drive.

Accounting for PF and UPND Performance in Lusaka District

The question still remains with regard to the PF and UPND, as to why their candidates could not manage to secure half of the votes of those who voted for their party in 2016 elections. I doubt if Wilson Kalumba could have been said to have been a popular candidate when he first stood for compared to His Worship the Mayor of Lusaka, Miles Sampa.

There are a few issues among the 40%, who in 2016 supported the PF candidate, but didn’t give Mr. Sampa their vote in 2018. The first issue is that a very smaller number now support the NDC, and in all probability, can be accounted towards the 40% of PF supporters who did not turn up to support Mr. Sampa. In an election, every vote counts.

The other issues the PF should understand is that part of the reason why its candidate could not get 135,000 votes among the 23% voters in 2018, may be because of voters who voted for the PF in 2016 whom Mr. Sampa disappointed and disrespected when he angrily left PF and formed his own party, denouncing the new PF President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, as illegitimate.

Miles is one child of the PF party who has had many chances, and life is about giving each other a second chance. During late President Sata’s time, it was reported that Mr. Sampa had resigned, switched off the phone and went miles away. He was given a second chance. In 2015, upon the demise of President Sata, Miles was positioned by the so-called Guy Scott-M’membe cartel to frustrate the election of Edgar Lungu as party and Republican President. Edgar Lungu still embraced him and appointed him as Deputy Minister, giving Mr. Sampa a third chance.

In 2016, Miles Sampa went miles away and injured the PF voters with his hostile resignation from the party, forming his own party and then supporting the UPND leader Mr. Hichilema, as opposed to the PF’s Edgar Lungu in the 2016 presidential election. The hearts of these voters were still grieving against him. Like a prodigal son, he returned and Edgar Lungu and the top PF leadership still embraced him and gave him a fourth chance. There was no time for the part to convince these aggrieved grassroots supporters of the new Miles Sampa who deserved a fourth chance. Indeed, the PF leadership seem to understand what it means to forgive your brother 77 x 7 times as commanded by Jesus. Amidst this, does anyone wonder why Mr. Sampa could not garner even a paltry 135,000 plus vote from the 23% voter turnout?

On the other side, in the 2016 mayoral election the UPND had a much stronger candidate in Maureen Mwanawasa and an alternative choice even for those who were not UPND, compared to Chileshe Kangwa. This would explain one of the reasons why many of those who supported the UPND candidate in 2016 were not as keen to turn up and support Chileshe Kangwa, despite his issue-based approach to politics.

However, there could be other issues to explain the dismal performance of the UPND in 2018. From 2016 to date, the UPND leadership has been managing to keep the hope of its voters by talking about the 2016 presidential election petition that, allegedly, could not be heard due to effluxion of time. They kept assuring the supporters with claims that the presidential petition was still before court and that it would be heard one day soon. They also had continued to successfully make allegations that HH’s election was stolen, and with the failure of the court case, the leadership took advantage of the support and sympathy they enjoyed without availing the public with evidence of how the 2016 election was allegedly stolen nor show, from the UPND PVT, by what margin Mr. Hichilema could be said to have beaten PF’s Edgar Chagwa Lungu. Have those who vote for the UPND lost confidence in these stories meant to keep Mr. Hichilema as their 2021 candidate on the false claim that he had won in 2015 and 2016 but his votes had been stolen, and some could have started acting against him?

More tellingly, there is great significance in the mere fact of UPND officials at District level even just shaking hands with their bitter rivals in PF. That UPND officials can even walk into PF offices, and vice versa, for the two rival parties to talk, is earth-shaking! Could we be seeing the first signs of Mr. Hichilema’s grip on the UPND, weakening, or the UPND grassroots leadership taking the bold decision to seek a new path?

Granted, the UPND top leadership have “allowed” their district officials to interact with their PF counterparts in the joint effort to find peace on the electoral front, but that would invite a further question; why allow them when Mr. Hichilema himself has to wait for the church or Commonwealth to bring him face to face with Republican President Edgar Lungu? This event, UPND leaders actually visiting PF leaders at the PF offices, and vice versa, could mark the beginning of something quite significant. What it is, or will be, I will not venture a guess.

Conclusion

Generally, the PF remains the strongest party among the grassroots voters amidst the biting economy, the increased unemployment levels and the dissatisfaction among the youth voters that they are seen as footnotes in the political book and not engaged in active decision making. To these voters, the adage, “the devil you know is better than an angel you don’t know” always apply, when deciding between Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s PF and Mr. Hakainde Hichilema’s UPND.

The PF worries must revolve around how social media can be an influence on new voters in 2021 elections, how issues of the economy, unemployment, may have a telling effect on the 2021 electoral result. There is no time for them except to move in and address these issues. Farmers in rural areas have still given the PF benefit of doubt but that patience should be reciprocated with the PF delivering inputs on time.

For UPND, it is clear the party performance is going down at a pace that should worry its leaders and members. Why is the UPND failing to convince voters even when opposition propaganda has been putting the ruling party on defensive? UPND may need to re-think its leadership and whether it inspires the grassroots structures across the country and not just in its strongholds, to actual mobilisation. UPND’s presence at the grassroots is somehow invisible as compared to the PF and these upcoming parties like PAC.

Finally, I am of the view that there is no opposition to unseat the ruling PF in 2021 and it will take a lot of factors for PF to lose 2021 or the opposition to win the 2021 elections. In fact, the new strategy of the PF leaders and UPND leaders getting to the table to talk about the urgent need to end electoral violence, may be building the public image of the PF’s commitment to ending violence and removing from the hands of the UPND the song it has used to win the hearts of voters who dislike violence.

Disclaimer: This article does not represent the views of any association, institution, or organisation the author may be affiliated to and neither does it represent the views of any media house but solely those of the author

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32 COMMENTS

  1. The opposition have a chance if the was a level playing ground, reforms on Public Order Act, fair public media, Independent electoral commission

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    • The author applied to stand on the PF ticket in Kasenengwa constituency in 2016 elections. Can he be objective?

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  2. Political consultants should be non partisan just like lawyer s .doctors, accountants.

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  3. God bles this intelligent guy! Itz bitter info for us in opposition 2 swalow but timely indeed. We failed to mobilise ground coz our leaders are stingy, have short hands

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  4. Statistics don’t lie. PF are getting stronger by the day while we getting weaker. we need rethink our UPND leadership. GBM adds no value at all. Fair analysis.

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  5. News Diggers has repeatedly said PF have strategists, guess this guy is one of such but here he talks bitter truths. We may not like it at all but its truth unless we in upnd change our leaders. We can’t be crying all time of elections being stolen without evidence, can’t be crying over public order act when we failing to dialogue over it. We running out of claims slowly but surely. Let’s go talk, church or no church, ZCID or no ZCID, Commonwealth or no commonwealt, our MPs must meet with PF MPs, agree on amendments and move on

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  6. I am not interested in all this, in Kitwe we have not had power for two days now because of the on going works in Lusaka. And we will have interrupted power supply for a month according to moribund Zesco. Meanwhile both CEC and ZESCO are exporting power to places like Congo. There is going to be productivity in Congo and non here in Kitwe, what type of thinking is this

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  7. Spot on and word to the wise. Any blind man can see that the UPNDs fortunes are dwindling fast. The PF may not necessarily be gaining ground but the UPND is on a slippery slope. Anti PF voters are simply staying away rather than voting the UPND. Voter apathy wins it for the ruling party

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  8. HH MUST PUT EVIDENCE OF HOW HIS ELECTIONS ARE STOLEN OR SHUT UP FOREVER. MAN BEEN MOURNING SINCE 2015 WHILE PF ARE MOBILISING. WHAT DOES HE DOE WITH HIS MONEY AND MONEY PARTY GETS FROM ITS DONORS?

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  9. Comment: personally, I commend PF and UPND grassroots leaders 4 showing courage in reaching across the party divide. I strongly encourage more and greater inter-party contacts whenever there is a problem, as they have just demonstrated to the nation. But now is time for top leaders within UPND to leave stage, allow fresh minds to come in. UPND has pushed away great minds like Hamududu. see how late Muntanga was driven to his early grave. People like GBM are good at making money and not grassroots mobilisation.

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  10. Some good observations. That said most Zambians want a strong opposition party.
    Some of the weaknesses of the UPND have been pointed out but three could be added.
    1.Late responses to current issues eg barring UNZA students to write exams. Rising College fees impossible to pay for government institutions. This can be loss of touch with grassroots
    2.Refusing to listen to good criticism and insults to advice by UPND bloggers who take well meaning advice as hatred.
    3.Strategic blunders in choosing bad candidates like Chilanga parliamentary bye elections.

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  11. Your Mathematics and assumptions are off. Mr Isaac Means a go down the history lane and look at MMD’s performance in by elections prior to the 2011 general elections. Further remember there a lot of people who never registered as voters in 2016 or those who were registered but never voted there are a lot of dynamics.

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  12. problem is HH , he should look at himself in the mirror every time he wakes up and ask himself what matters most to him. he will discover its him and not party

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  13. Master piece from Mr Isaac Mwaanza!!What you have said above is the gospel truth.HH’s UPND is miles away from state house.In 2021 UPND will continue coming out second in Lusaka,Copperbelt and Eastern,then third to NDC in Luapula,Northern and Muchinga.UPND will be number one as usual in Southern,Western and North -Western and PF second but those votes will be a drop in the ocean.Central province will be shared between PF and UPND.in the end PF will carry the day in 2021 unless a miracle happens to UPND!!!HH is not a grassroot politician.He has no touch with poor voters who vote in their masses while Edgar Lungu is a poor voter’s darling!!!The momentum HH had in 2015 and 2016 has dinimished very quickly.2021 elections will be HH’s last attempt as beyond 2021 nobody would even want to…

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  14. What lesson does Miles Sampa learn from this. when you have independent people telling you where u went wrong, you must thank them and bring them closer to you, especially now that you Mayor. Learn from our President and how many times he has forgiven you and embraced you. Seek wisdom and don’t close your doors to your critics

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  15. Yah Problem Is Our Leader Mr. Hichilema Himself. Upnd Nmc Is Now Full Of Pf Rejects? Why Coz He Thinks Those Who Came From Pf Know Winning Formula But If He Knew Pf Better Should Ve Understood They Don’t Use Same Tactic Over And Over. What Won Sata Votes In 2011 Won’t Win Edgar Lungu Votes Today. But At End Of Day, Hh Thinks Of Himself And Nothing More. If He Doesn’t Win Elections, Then He Won’t Care About Anyone Winning. Sometimes One Needs To Personally Say Am Done With Politics And Leave Stage. Hh Can Be Useful To Supporting Party In Background

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  16. Sampa like his predecessors won’t change anything! street vendors are slowly coming back to streets of Lusaka. It makes no difference who’s in power they are all the same. Only difference is that Miles won’t be giving Lusaka people sleeping challenge. HH and UPND, like PF, don’t care for the people that vote them in, they are only interested in themselves and what they can get out of it if the truth be known. What’s worrying though is the rate at which Hichilema has sunk the UPND. Zambia needs a meaningful opposition and not just loudmouths like Kambwili. That’s where Edgar Lungu is street smart when it comes to winning people’s hearts. These lies of election have been rigged or stolen is utter nonsense and doesn’t help opposition win votes. You need strategists to help plan. But if…

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  17. I FEEL FOR UPND. THE TOP LEADERSHIP HAVE PROCLAIMED THAT THEY DO NOT RECOGNISE ECL AS PRESIDENT. THIS HAS NOT GONE WELL WITH THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT ECL. THESE ARE VOTERS WHO WILL NOT GIVE HH A VOTE. MANY VOTERS ARE CONFUSED NOW. HAS HH CHANGED HIS POSITION? THESE ARE SIMPLE THINGS THAT HAVE CAUSED UPND TO BE HATED BY MANY VOTERS.

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  18. One solution is for opposition UPND to retire HH but UPND is HH and HH is UPND. That is how stuck the UPND is

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  19. Comment: UPND needs to go for retreat. How surely can 51% of those who voted for Maureen fail to vote for its candidate in 2018? figures don’t lie. UPND is in ICU. No presence on the ground and just operating from the top. People have lost confidence in the leadership of Mr. Hichilema and change must be done at the top. Even those in structures are now acting against him. I don’t think any amount of lies on stolen votes and petition will help the party anymore. let’s do a surgery and get to move. UPND is bigger than 1 man and bigger than GBM

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  20. Hakainde Hichilema never learns. Before 2011, our party was used by the PF in that PACT to win numbers and off the PF went to form govt. Today, instead of him taking leadership to ask ZCID to convene a meeting with Edgar Lungu, he is busy subjecting our district and provincial leaders to the temptations of interacting with PF. Doesn’t he know that is recipe for mass defections? He can’t see why Jean Kapata has directed PF in all provinces to be in meeting with local leaders? We back to UPND-PF Pact. Who will be biggest beneficiary? HH has lost his minds and needs to be replaced ASAP. I won’t join anyone insulting the writer of this good article. The problem is not PF, not the writer but problem is HH himself.

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  21. Edgar Lungu is smarter than HH. This writer I always enjoy reading his analysis. He is parliamentary material who deserves to be in Parliament. He will give the opposition a good run

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  22. Good, fair and neutral analysis. Both PF and UPND should read this and learn one or two things.
    Please, PF and UPND stop violence for good. Zambians dont want your S.tu.pid violence to continue. Just campaign peacefully.

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  23. Time has come for us UPND members to engage in honest discussion on comrade Hichilema’s continued reign at the the helm of UPND. HH gets every Jim and Jack who defects from PF and gives them positions, an appeasement policy that has lacks any value in itself. As writer has noted also, these meetings between PF and UPND will not only weaken UPND as it was case towards 2011 but our leaders are exposing our members to PF money, soon defections will follow and UPND will become a shell of a party.

    What we need as a party is to reorganise and move forward or we remain in opposition for the next 20 years again.

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  24. We can’t get a favourable rating from a PF key strategist hiding in the name of analyst. Mwanza hates UPND and hates NDC but the Zambian people love us so much. we shall form govt in 2021. Wait and see

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  25. PAINFUL TRUTHS INDEED BT WE MUST LIVE WITH THEM. THIS GUY IS AN ASSET TO THIS COUNTRY AND OUR POLITICS. FAIR ANALYSIS AND CRITICISM OF ALL PARTIES. QUESTION I OWAYS ASK IS WHY WE DONT HAVE SUCH KIND OF PEOPLE IN PARLIAMENT. IF THIS GUY IS TRULY PF, THEN PF HAS ENOUGH OF WHAT THIS GREAT THINKERS.

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  26. From 2008, I religiously voted for the man I believed can change Zambia and move Zambia Forward. Am university graduate without a job under PF. Life is hard and I hate this life. But reading through this, I will not waste my time giving Mr. Hichilema another voter. He can’t liberate Zambia. Am better off voting for Edgar Lungu and giving him a chance that he will change. Am done with UPND. The Mazoka vision is gone.

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  27. HH has never found anybody with courage to tell him straight as News Diggers and this writer does. If HH meant well for Zambia, he wouldn’t be having all these negative comments people are giving here. But he appears to be incorrigible and not open to advice.

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  28. This articles sparks a lot of of courage and wisdom from its writer. Never have I read an article so thorough and balanced among all opinion makers in Zambia. Lee Habasonda wrote something but it showed his bias to wanting PF out of govt, Chipenzi commented on election results and pattern but it was usual rhetoric that comes from CSOs. The writer of this article seem to understand the contours of Zambian politics. Its an award winning article this one. Sadly, my party is crumbling faster and people like me don’t see any need to vote if HH and Kambwili are the only alternative leaders Zambia has. Kambwili rantings doesn’t show he understand himself and the mess him and Edgar created for this country. It will take a crane for me to go vote UPND, PF or NDC. Am open to explore the PAC route…

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  29. ONE CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AS BUSINESS BUT THAT DOESN’T ENTAIL HE CAN ALSO BE A GOOD POLITICAL LEADER. HH DESERVES RESPECT AS A BUSINESS LEADER BUT DOES NOT KNOW HOW POLITICS HAPPEN. SOON HE WILL WITNESS MASS DEFECTIONS OF YOUTHS FROM UPND WHO ARE INTERACTING WITH PF ON PEACE DEALS. SATA, DESPITE HIS LITTLE EDUCATION KNEW HOW TO DEAL WITH HH AND USED KABIMBA TO FINISH UPND BEFORE 2011. LUNGU IS CALLING CHAKOLWE ON ALL UPND MEDIA INCLUDING DIGGERS BUT HE APPEARS TO BE MUCH AHEAD OF HH IN PLANNING AND EXECUTION. UPND MAY SOON BE HISTORY

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