HH and President Lungu meet at late Munkombwe’s burial in Choma
HH and President Lungu meet at late Munkombwe’s burial in Choma

By Chimwemwe Mwanza

Vicious, vindictive and vengeful aptly describes the Zambian political arena. Former Presidents, Kenneth Kaunda, Rupiah Banda and the late Frederick Chiluba all have scars to prove this. In the 80’s, Kaunda locked up Chiluba on flimsy charges that failed to hold in a court of law. After he became Head of State, Chiluba retaliated by sending Kaunda to Mukobeko maximum prison.

The irony for Chiluba is that his handpicked successor, Levy Mwanawasa motivated Parliament to waive off the latter’s immunity thereby exposing Chiluba to several graft charges formulated by the now defunct Task Force on Corruption. With his legacy tainted by a skewed narrative, only death saved Chiluba from possible jail time. To erase his predecessor’s legacy and ensure his humiliation, the late Sata’s PF re-created this trend by consigning Rupiah to a life of court appearances.

Off significance to this conversation, UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema (HH) served time in Lilayi prison on a laughable treason charge – this at the hands of the current PF regime. For a fact, HH has never hidden his disdain for President Edgar Lungu and his stint in a tiny Lilayi prison cell has probably served to reinforce the UPND leader’s contempt for the President.

Just why such vindictiveness and blatant abuse of power seems to gratify incumbents is hard to understand. In the absence of reason, one might well speculate that this show of brutality is all about a naked flexing of political muscle – a bit more like, ‘can I show you who is the boss’. Whatever the reason, the difficulty is that this trend erodes the very democratic tenets and political maturity that Zambia is renowned for in the rest of Africa and the world over.

Which makes 2021 an interesting contest. Other than bread and butter issues, the fore mentioned factors will weigh heavily on the minds of both President Lungu and HH heading closer to the polls.

Who is likely to win?

The tiny but seismic shift in fundamentals on the ground seem to suggest that this will be a closely fought contest. Besides, recent electoral predictions across the globe – even by the most experienced pundits have gone against the grain making it even more difficult to provide an accurate outcome.

For example, in 2012, several analysts predicted an outright victory for Rupiah’s MMD only for the PF to spring a surprise. Suffice to acknowledge that, while characteristics of the Zambian electoral landscape may differ in comparison to mature democracies, there are similarities to draw from – especially in elections where the voter’s desire for change outweighs any other considerations.

Unaware of a groundswell desire for change, an over-confident former British Premier, David Cameroon called a snap referendum to determine Britain’s future in the European Union (EU). He was stunned at the outcome. Against odds, the British electorate voted for Brexit thus paving the way for what has now become Britain’s messy divorce from the EU trade block.

Humiliated by a razor thin loss to Brexit supporters, Cameroon was forced to call his time as leader of the conservative party. In yet one of the biggest election upsets of the 21st century, Donald Trump steam-rolled establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the US. Therefore, the notion that either the PF or UPND might have an edge over the other heading towards 2021 is fallacious. Truth is, this is an election that could swing either way.

Why ECL will be desperate to win

Despite the PF’s public show of confidence, their determined focus on HH and constant whip-lashing of his perceived tribal inclinations, best illustrates their genuine fears and by extention their desperation. Rightly so, they can’t afford to be complacent. 2021 will be a referendum on their ten years in power. Be rest assured that this is one election where the PF’s well – oiled propaganda machinery will likely throw both the sink and kitchen at the UPND bearing in mind what is at stake. In fact, the proposed amendment to the constitution is intended to disadvantage the opposition ahead of the polls.

What troubles the mind is that the current constitution which the PF is attempting to discard was signed into law by the sitting President amid a jam-packed Independence stadium. Three years later, it’s tempting to ask. What has changed to warrant an amendment to this sacred document? By now, PF knows too well that the much-punted humility of their candidate might be a hard-sale more so to an electorate that appears too desperate for change. They can’t afford lethargic arguments such as they being the only party with a manifesto. Need they be reminded that having a manifesto is one thing and delivering on its content is another.

What about the promise that they would lower taxes and put more money in the pockets of the working class? Did they deliver on such including creation of job opportunities? You be the judge. The President is aware that he will be facing an electorate that is weary of rising food costs. A persistent drought over the last two seasons has only compounded the hunger situation – more so in outlying areas of the country. In addition, the policy uncertainty in mining taxation and the stand – off between government and sections of the mining community is taking its toll on economic growth. Perceptions around inaction on corruption might not help his cause either. While some of these challenges might not be, the PF’s making, the electorate always tend to punish a sitting government for their suffering – sometimes unfairly so.

Never mind whether HH has genuine or has yet to formulate charges against the PF, he has consistently warned that the PF leadership will be called to account for wrong doing once he becomes President. The tacit implication of this threat is that, HH is already extending bed spaces at Chimbokaila, Kamwala Remand and possibly Lilayi prisons for use by the PF leadership. And knowing fully well what is at stake, a possible loss is too ghastly for the PF to contemplate. For President Lungu, there will be no better motivation to win the polls than lose to a sworn rival.

Its State House or bust for HH

PF has over-exposed the country to a mountain of debt that will outlive generations to come. It is precisely why the 2021 polls will boil down to the economy. As a businessman, HH knows too well the implications of our foreign debt on the fiscus. Zambia can’t afford to keep borrowing to fund consumption and expenditure on non-productive sectors of the economy.

This is the message he has been selling the grassroots. For a fact, he has the support of the broader investment community, including some global mining giants. Most important though, the International Monetary Fund appears to have factored in his possible victory in 2021 hence their reluctance to engage the current government on a possible economic rescue package.

The question is, has the UPND leader’s message of change found resonance with the electorate? While he appeals to the affluent and middle class in Parklands, Kansenshi and Kabulonga, the grassroots in Mandevu, kwa Nagoli and Chamboli seem to be struggling to grasp his vision for the country. Be reminded that he desperately needs this voting block to win the elections.

Against the backdrop of challenges, this looks like HH’s election to lose. Fact is, he can’t afford a record of 4 election loses on the trot. Such a scenario will certainly cast him into political wilderness and the glue that’s bound the UPND together over the years will finally loosen. Is this what he wants?

It’s entirely up to him and how he manages his campaign otherwise it might just well be that he will once again fall short of expectation and hand the PF another 5 years in power. And him being such a vexatious litigant, our Supreme and Constitutional courts will likely be kept busy. Watch this space.

The author is an avid reader of political history and philosophy. He loves Nshima with game meat. For feedback contact him on kwachaoneATgmailDOTcom

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29 COMMENTS

    • You are just a quack crapper from UPND. Keep praying to your uncircumcized Kaponya (HH)

      He can’t sit in State House.

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    • Well, Mr. Author who is an avid reader of political history and philosophy this one is a wild miss.
      I wonder why people including you use the last polls close contest as a benchmark for the upcoming 2021 polling predictions.
      1. If you were born yesterday, the constitution may not need clausal review.
      2. If you thing PF is just lazying about, definitely you haven’t been down their development business.
      3. If you think double h will score more votes as the added GVBM, Guy, Sampa, Nevers, Lupando, Sata jr. etc etc votes to the upndeads table think again.
      4. Sonta reloaded, the fluidness of economies you cannot predict, the economy today, may not be as bad or as good as you think in 2021.
      Zambians are extraordinary people, when they decide, it’s…

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    • …almost unanimous. Usually don’t vote tribals in. You wonder why they are called names by disgruntled upndeads.
      For your own info 2021 will be double h’s 6th loss not 4th. The deads 7th whitewash. Get your facts straight.

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    • Its laughable that PF cadres point to so called development projects delivered at grossly inflated costs that we are now paying over 60% of GDP towards debt servicing ….I mean its like a Parent bragging to his friends about building a pool, driving a Mercedes when he can not afford to feed the children and send them to school as all the funds go to paying off loans for his toys!!

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    • This writer put me off straight away when he said was the year Rupiah Banda lost elections. I stopped reading just there.

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    • It’s sad that all contributions to political debate made by UPND leaders and their followers are radioactive with tribalism and bitterness. HH has not properly utilised his alliances with GBM or CK; he will pay dearly for this mistake.

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  1. The Analysis is shallow and doesn’t factor Corruption, the State of the Economy especially Debt, Election Rigging, Tribalism etc. Lungu and PF know that based on their Performance Record since 2011 they cannot win 2021 Election thru a Popular Vote. That is why they are busy trying to rig the 2021 Election by Amending the Current Constitution and Gerrymandering Constituencies. Corruption has tainted the image of ECL and PF. They can’t correct their mistakes between now and August 2021 so the only way for ECL and PF to retain Power is to rig the 2021 Election or Eliminate HH. ECL and PF fear recriminations for their Misrule should HH win Power and therefore want to Retain Power by Hook or Crook. Time will tell.

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  2. @ Chansa
    Whilst I fully agree on what you say which is 100% naked truth, try to expand the obvious which PF machinery is debunking already and look instead to tie the dots which are more important.
    Instead of concentrating on PF “produce evidence of ….”, concentrate on why such evidence has become almost irrelevant.
    After all, in general election what counts is a number of votes. Therefor, NEVER underestimate power of 5tupid/uneducated people in large numbers.

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  3. Sometimes that people are missing out on analyzing is fact that GOD ALMIGHTY has a system of reigning both heavenly realm and earthly things.Time and chance befall up on all human beings.But GOD almighty knows who to grace the privilege of the leadership.
    If HH was predetermined to rule this country,he will,if not he will not.Therefore 2021 general elections is not even crucial the way chimwemwe is sounding on this article.Human psychology always focus matters beyond normal thus where problems begins.

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  4. Kaponya (HH) is nothing more than a political gigolo who will go to bed with the devil just to enter State House.
    They were worshipping GBM in 2016. Now he has instructed Lloyd and Clayson Hamasaka to start insulting him.
    They were mastaburting with Miles Sampa in 2016 now they are insulting him.

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    • You are really bothered by intelligence huh? Take you place among pigs, dullard. If HH is a Mason so what? Reverend Jessie Jackson is 36degree mason do you see Americans calling him a devil or satanist? It’s like Christianity makes you chaps shallow instead of enlightening you. George W. Bush of the USA is a member of skull & bones and staunch baptist so was former secretary of state under Obama John Kerry. Fact is if you don’t understand something just shut the pie hole. But neither you or I have proof HH is a mason so you are just speculating which shows your lack of integrity.

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    • Mr Kudos – Its laughable that you mention those names as they are back again with PF …I highly doubt you even know what a Gigolo is …in future please look up the definition before you decide to use a word!!

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  5. Here’s the reason your HH and UPND will again lose the 2021 elections. The only reason why people vote for change is when
    1. The opposition is able to clearly state what and how they will do better than the current government in terms of
    a) job creation, which to this day is just but rhetoric by the opposition
    b) clear development agenda, whats the focus
    c) lower taxes, how does the opposition achieve this yet maintain higher wages

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  6. To me none of them should win in 2021, the ruling party has lost it whereas UPND with HH is clearly not an option for this country. I see a surprise President in 2021.
    The conditions for a return of PF to power are negative, they have failed to manage the economy which in itself will be the single most important factor in 2021. On the other hand HH does not inspire confidence in the population, never mind his economics background. His ” election ” to succeed Andy has proved to be a heavy burden on his shoulders. Trying to impress other regional groupings by choosing vice presidents from outside UPND has cost him dearly. His political career died at birth. I dont think any analysis of 2021 featuring HH is credible. He actually has less support than in 2017 in the regions that matter.

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  7. …almost unanimous. Usually don’t vote tribals in. You wonder why they are called names by disgruntled upndeads.
    For your own info 2021 will be double h’s 6th loss not 4th. The deads 7th whitewash. Get your facts straight.

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  8. You are very intelligent analytical writer. When we form our party you are the consultant we need.

    You tell the truth and cardres dont like that. They want to be told lungu will wiin or hh will win

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  9. when i started reading, i really thought the auther was going to tell us what was really in for each contestant to suite the headline. But as i went on, i realised that the story has a wrong and misleading headline. its very one sided.
    The story started off very well with good comparisons of former presidents and the vengeance schemes.
    what the auther wanted to say perhaps is that when HH wins 2021, he will want to revenge. but somewhere along the line, the weiter lost line of thought and started ‘mumbling all over’ as my teacher of Literature in english used to say. I couldnt even tell what he really wanted to tell us.
    Next time, put an article togather before posting it. If not sure, consult someone to go though first.

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  10. Its interesting how mwanawasa is always painted in beautiful colours as if to emphasize the point that he was the best president, when in-fact not. Mwanawasa’s first action as president was to lock-up Michael chilufya sata for 40 days on fake charges of motor vehicle theft. I see the author as deliberately left it out.

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  11. “The tiny but seismic shift in fundamentals on the ground seem to suggest that this will be a closely fought contest. Besides, recent electoral predictions across the globe – even by the most experienced pundits have gone against the grain making it even more difficult to provide an accurate outcome.” The UPND have lost more local by elections than ever before. At that they have even lost two of their MP seats due to arrogance. We need a better opposition.

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  12. ECL has more chances than HH because of what is trending in the current bye elections ,where by ECL is slowly wining were it was not possible for him then,and it is the opposite of HH.

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  13. truth be told . pf is in a state of agone whether you like it or not. the country is ready for a change even today should there be elections. if pf wants let them conduct a mock elections presidential level. this is the waste government ever exprienced in the history of this country. corruption, tribalism violence theft to mention but a few all these by the ruling party. on top of that nature has added hardship on people and the ruling party is failing to handle the situation to win people s confidence. bring elections now if you want to prove me wrong.

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  14. Bitter Hakiende h his inherited under 5 party will be going to the polls fixated much on vuvuzelas such as cronies above. I am not certain who the sworn rivals of ECL are. The chap with a calculator hides little his ‘feelings’ for the man who defeated him. Desperation! look at how many persons bitter h including his running mate. He cried foul on time to register his complaint in the concot. So his ‘sworn rival’ has given him 30 days so he cries less.Bitter h should worry more about his poorly paid headsmen who still sleep in the bush, the panama reports, the lima bank house corruptly bought, and the citizens he butchered in dundumwezi….elections are not about emotions, 2021 checkmate!

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  15. The problem here is that we have those groups of monkeys from Luapula who are illiterates. They don’t understand anything to do with the state of affairs. To them all is about being tribal. The testicle headed imbeciles.

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