By Prince Ndoyi
“Godfathers” are usually almost synonymous with West African politics. But the phenomenon, is slowly becoming true for the rest of Africa. Godfathers themselves don’t always architect their positions, they land in such influential positions by the power they wield within the dynamics of a specific election.
Chiefs are godfathers in their regions, and dare say anything against them, then you can kiss that election in their region goodbye.
“Godfathers” in politics especially don’t usually run for office themselves, but many believe they are the ones who decide the election winners and losers.
The godfather must be influential, most often they are, or were, a political office holder. They are some of the most powerful political and business families in Zambia with a wide network abroad. They are political sponsors, who may use money and influence to win support for their preferred candidates.
Elections in Zambia, have always had its theme and individuals that are major factors and determinant of the results. In 2021, the general elections will also be determined, influenced and shaped by some individuals.
Since the return of democracy in 1991, some individuals have been a focal point of six general elections that have taken place in the country. I seek to highlight the two recent ones, whom every politician worth his sort oughts to appreciate the godfather status they have earned overtime.
These two, are from the Kenneth Kaunda school of politics, and they worked quite closely with KK. For Rupiah Banda, his more of a father figure having served as President of the Republic himself. For Chikwanda he is a father figure for PF and no one can take that away from him. They are a silent powerhouse, Lungu courts very well.
We cannot talk about the Lungu presidency, without a mention of the these two politically strong men. godfathers may not be Presidents themselves, but their voice transcends legitimate power.
After the demise of Michael SATA, President Lungu relied heavily on the blessings of these two men in both 2015 and 2016. The voter out there decides nothing before the party decides who your choice will be. And best believe me these two will shape 2021 politics, at both national and political party dynamics – and they invariably are men – who will pull the strings behind the scenes.
As such, they remain a potent factor to be reckoned with, politically next year and beyond, a blessing from them will be the highest commodity many political aspirants would be seeking.
The results of 2021 elections lay on many shoulders which includes these individuals. With almost two years down the line to 2021, there is no indication that things would change, therefore we are yet to see how the opposition will play out against this tide. Any politician who ignores these two does so at its own peril.
Their importance as regards 2021 elections cannot be seen by the naked eye, but abandoning these two will be anyone’s biggest mistake. Even as we hear, lots of stories about change of government, I tend to agree with President LUNGU’s confidence when I see how he is playing the real politics when it comes to such strong political voices.
Michael SATA won 2011, after the master dribbler albeit “godfather” Chiluba died. And that was real politics. The UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is not naive, he understands this way too well, and may never have an honest conversation in public about this issue but we can’t run away from it.
I end with this proverb, “the Lion Monarch must always reach out to the aggrieved but silent Lagoon Lion so that he doesn’t explode like the hippo. Because the Lagoon Lion controls waters that can drown.”
For their political sagacity and large followership in places I can’t mention here, they remain a major factor to be considered when measuring 2021 presidential elections at all fronts.