President Lungu addressing the media
President Lungu addressing the media

By Sishuwa Sishuwa

On 8 November 2019, President Edgar Lungu, speaking in his first press conference for four years, brought up Zambia’s elections scheduled for 2021 before declaring “I am game”. Breaking with his usual practice of governing through press aides and off-the-cuff remarks on airport tarmacs, he stressed publicly that he would be the presidential candidate for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), in power since 2011, and would leave no stone unturned in his quest to secure a third term.

President Lungu was first elected in the 2015 presidential by-election that followed Michael Sata’s untimely death in office. He was then re-elected in the disputed 2016 polls, narrowly defeating Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND). Since then, Zambia’s economy has faltered thanks to a combination of government incompetence, venality and external shocks. A devastating drought has left close to 2 million people in need of food aid and contributed to an electricity crisis that has seen power cuts for as long as 20 hours a day. Grand corruption has become so endemic one might be forgiven for mistaking it for an election promise on which the government has been striving to deliver. Meanwhile, policy uncertainty in the crucial mining industry has, together with low copper prices, slowed production. These factors have halved Zambia’s annual growth rate from nearly 4% in 2016 to just 2% in 2019, while external debt and inflation have surged. These negative economic indicators have not only led to rising costs of living for ordinary Zambians, but also fed calls for political change within the ruling PF. Two broad factions have emerged in recent months.

Team Lungu

The first comprises party leaders supportive of President Lungu and his 2021 candidature. PF Secretary-General Davies Mwila has emerged as the most vociferous member of this group, while sources in the party say others in this faction include: presidential political adviser Kaizer Zulu; Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya; Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo; Tourism Minister Ronald Chitotela; Minister of National Planning Alexander Chiteme; Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo; and various of Lungu’s business associates.

Among other things, those in this cohort are trying to show their loyalty to the president in the hope that if he does not stand, he will anoint one of them as his successor. Lungu is afraid of being prosecuted for corruption, embezzlement and criminal misuse of power if he leaves office. To protect himself, he might decide to remain in power for as long as possible or find a pliant replacement, the more loyal the better. Members of this faction also have deep vested interests in Lungu remaining as president. This is the surest way of guaranteeing their current positions of power and protecting themselves from prosecution.

Lungu’s attempt to secure a third term is therefore not just an individual aspiration. It is part of a plan by a whole PF faction that seeks to ride on his presumed popularity and control of the state apparatus to retain its positions of influence for the purposes of accumulation. One or two members of this group – such as Chilufya and Chitotela – are also rooting for Lungu in the hope that should he stand in 2021, he might nominate one of them as his running mate, a position that would give them great advantage in a future presidential bid.

The anti-Lungu brigade

The second faction consists of PF leaders who believe that fielding Lungu in the 2021 elections would be courting electoral defeat. Although it lacks a clear leader, this group revolves around the figurehead of Kelvin Bwalya Fube, a former PF election deputy chairperson and charismatic lawyer who played an important role in securing Lungu’s nomination for the 2015 election. Fube has considerable appeal among disenchanted party youths, an influential constituency that was central to the dramatic fall of former PF Secretary-General Wynter Kabimba and the subsequent rise of both Mwila and Lungu following Sata’s death. Also backing Fube are some senior PF figures, including some cabinet ministers who fear reprisals if their support for him is revealed.

This group believes that Lungu is unpopular among the party’s rank-and-file as well as Zambians more generally. The massive turnout at public rallies of the main opposition leader Hichilema, even in supposedly PF strongholds such as the Copperbelt, has further raised concerns. This ruling party faction therefore wants a different presidential candidate for 2021.

The four-point plan to stop Lungu

PF Secretary-General Mwila has poured scorn on this possibility. Nonetheless, the group has designed a strategy to get rid of Lungu made up of four possible plans.

The first is to simply persuade Lungu to abandon his aspirations for 2021 and name a successor. If this fails, the second is to turn to Zambia’s constitution, which now requires political parties to hold regular elections, to call on the PF Central Committee to hold an elective party convention. Sources in the party say plans are already underway to hold one in April 2020. At this convention, members of the Fube faction would sponsor a candidate to challenge Lungu for the 2021 nomination. Given Lungu’s lack of a firm grip on the PF, he might be vulnerable in such a race. This is why Lungu’s supporters are now lobbying the Central Committee to either ensure the incumbent is the only candidate or to cancel the need for a convention altogether.

The third strategy is to use the courts to disqualify Lungu from running. Despite the president’s confidence, many people believe he is not legally eligible to run for another term as the constitution contains a clear two-term limit. The president’s supporters argue that his first term of just 18 months should not count towards this total, but Zambia’s Constitutional Court recently delivered an ambiguous ruling on this question, which has emboldened Lungu’s opponents.

Worried by the prospect of a legal challenge to Lungu’s nomination, the pro-Lungu faction has put forward a widely condemned constitutional amendment bill. Among other things, the bill would abolish constitutional provisions that currently allow any person to submit a legal contest to a candidate’s nomination.

The bill is set to be tabled for second reading at any time. To pass in Zambia’s 167-member National Assembly, it would require at least two-thirds support (at least 111 MPs). This is a tall order – especially if done through a secret ballot – given the PF’s narrow majority and questions over its MPs’ loyalty to Lungu. Aware of this uncertainty, its backers seem keen to postpone the process until it can be more confident of its outcome. The problem is that the more they delay, the more traction the anti-Lungu faction may gain.

Should all this fail, the Fube faction has a final fourth option: form a breakaway party, recruit many who have already been hounded out of the PF, and launch a political assault on Lungu as the opposition. Its aim would be to win power or, at the very least, make it impossible for Lungu to retain it.

Despite the PF’s disastrous management of the economy, it is fair to say that the internal factions in the ruling party are the real effective opposition in Zambia – that the PF’s greatest enemy is itself. At the heart of the ongoing rebellion against Lungu is the push for a Bemba-speaking candidate to succeed him. Although they harbour distinct presidential ambitions, PF leaders who are pro-Lungu, but hail from Bemba-speaking communities, and those outrightly opposed to him agree on one point: that his successor, be they from Team Lungu or the ant-Lungu brigade, must be a Bemba speaker.

The outcome of this raging power struggle for the leadership of Zambia’s governing party will have significant implications on its political standing and, depending on how the successful faction handles the political fallout and economic collapse, the potential for a transfer of power in 2021. It is worth stressing that while the PF is saddled with deepening rifts, opposition parties appear to be holding together. They have continued to capitalise on the gradual implosion of the ruling party as well as the growing public revulsion to Lungu over his poor handling of the economy, the kleptocratic behaviour of his administration, and the shrinking democratic space.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. Which disputed 2016 elections Bo Sishuwa? Where did your Hichilema lose marginally when he massively rigged on Southern province by registering under age children, and transporting them to voting centres, hence the large figures of election results from there. This is how crooked Hichilema is. He wants to rule Zambia by winning in one province. The gods have denied him that chance because they know its a recipe to problems. Remember how Chiluba put Mwanawasa fraudulently in power and his rule faced a lot challenges from Zambians.

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    • i like Sishuwa but this all seems mostly speculative and not based on hard facts. You can do better Doc

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    • I had no idea how deep hatred has become in Zambia. So HH registers under-age people to vote! This can only come people who won’t bother to read a bit of Zambia’s history. John Mwanakatwe writes about high voter turn-outs in Southern Province compared to anywhere else in Zambia in the 1970s in his book THE END OF THE KAUNDA ERA. Look for the book. It’s not restricted.

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    • It’s sad to write a biased article, when the writer himself is partisan. He thinks an article with no facts, but just wishful thinking, can sway votes for hh. I agree with the opinion that the threat to PF is within PF itself. It’s true. But this writer does not know Zambian politics. In zambia for as long as all are eating (with PF) there is no threat. And there won’t be. Even Kambwili, if you have observed, he is just angry because he was removed from eating. If they didn’t take away food from his mouth he would still be the spokesman today convincing us about how good loadshedding is for the country. So Mr writer, this sensational speculation bring it up in 2027 when it will be over for Lungu & it will be 100% that another must take over. Don’t waste people’s time & energies,…

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    • I took time this day to read through sishua sishuwa piece of hogwashic uncorroborated story based on unresearched lapdog narrative.
      This sishua thinks PF is like upndead structurally. Sishuwa is pretty much an inexperienced dude on political matters who uses his heart to think and wasting valuable University time. Please sishuwa, grow a brain, political rallies do not depict popularity. Right now people favour ECL not fube. No third term. I would like you to highlight a bit more on the so called external shocks too. Your incompleteness
      incompetent allegations are appalling.
      Stop dreaming.

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    • Since when this boy become a spokes person for PF or President Lungu. First of all he is just another shameless UPNDED cadre. Last time he posted rubbish on the state of UNZA and I challenged him on how much he has contributed to raising funds for the University and immediately his friends pulled down the article from the website.

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    • PF bandits time is up…we dont want PF bandits…its that simple….2021 we dont want anything to do with PF…whether criminal Lawyer KBF who lost his practising license in 2006 due to theft or Bandit in chief Lungu…….2021 we want completely brand new leadership…No Kambwili,No Kalaba,No Nevers Mumba,No Lungu…

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    • Looks whats happening to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe….the same ZANU PF bandits regrouped under Mnangangwa and am sure most of you have seen the video Zimbabwe Police beating protesters and the majority of them where elderly women… I lived in Zimbabwe briefly in 1995…that country had so much potential…..dont let Zambia become another Zimbabwe….if PF bandits continues after 2021 then Zambia will be a million times worse than Zimbabwe

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    • Negative.
      It is an illusion of the worse form to compare Zimbabwe and Zambia politically. Zambia goes to the polls every 5 years. Zimbabwe has been at the leadership york of a freedom fighter for a long time and just went democratic almost a couple of years ago. Zimbabwe has been under hash economic sanctions from the West for Mugabe’s audacity for truth and those sanctions were just renewed this February by trump. You niggaz and your god on the opposite have been on rendezvous with infestors for sanctions against Zambia. Who does that?
      Read widely before spilling a bunch of hogwash on this podium.

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    • The four point plans that Shishuwa has outlined above are all too hollow to unseat Lungu’s PF presidency. The ministers that Shishuwa says surround or support Lungu are main backbone of the party. The rest will not influence the other PF cohorts as catalysts or agents of Lungu’s removal.

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    • HH has never been president and should therefore continue to stand until he is elected president. Lungu must give chance to others because he has failed.

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    • H² must never become president.
      The votes will/should/must elude him by 60+ percentage of eligible voters.
      Too much filth on the plate.
      2011 gave us a choice from 2 old characters. We never saw h².
      2015 gave us Fresh ECL. H² wasn’t a match still.
      2016 gave us a Resolute ECL. Despite numbers from ruined MMD, ECL whipped h².
      2021 will give us a politically maligned ECL. H² must then retire
      This is against a highly questionable and more dangerous and inexperienced h².
      It could take a fruitless 5 years for h² to properly understand Government machinery. That would wasted years enough for trial and error leadership.

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  2. The best outcome is for PF to self destruct. PF has reached its shelf life. You cannot have a party that has corruption as its ethos. At the height of a struggling economy, you have these PF puppet masters orchestrating corruption at every level of govt coffers. Very sad.

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    • This is true. Even when their citizens are struggling with load shedding they are cutting deals to pocket large sums of money.

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    • You prayed for an MMD disintegration, you got it. Now you are praying for the PF’s destruction, you ain’t gonna have it. You had that prayer in 2016 when various camps emerged out’a PF, fortunately they reconstitued and gave you a beating of your lifetime at the 2016 polls.
      United part for national destruction, the party of the deads is here to destruct national unity. Squabbles in a party are vital. In the end, survivor is guaranteed as they continue haunting your little egos.
      PF is stronger than you think.

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  3. Yes PF is brighter on the out side but grey if not black on the inside. ECL has to worry more of the people from the inside than the enermy outside.

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  4. Lungu will win 2021 with a wide margin. HH will lose again because he has no capacity to translate the crowds he gets a rallies into votes.

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  5. Panama we need HH the businessman look how well Trump is doing, he is a hard worker like HH up early in the morning and always on the move. Enough of this Lungu and his laziness, it will be good riddance if this faction can kick him out. Let me tell you leadership is not easy and its worse when it comes on a silver plate like Lungu, who was appointed by the raising of hands like in primary school. Lungu was unprepared for this role, it’s now becoming too big for him, don’t suggest all these unprepared people who have not gone through adversity to really treasure that seat or the thieves who you want to impoverish us even further. Nobody right now is offering any good advice or has better insight than HH, when he speaks even you the adversaries pay attention.

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  6. I always find this dull Dr’s articles to be full of imaginary sensation than fact!Sometimes it is important to leave sensationalism to cadres and those of us from academia provide factual information to the masses.

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  7. Hahaha things fall apart. The last days of pf. Hope Kaiser Zulu has exit strategy. He should be seeking asylum in Russia where his prostitute hails from. There the skin heads will teach him how to behave

    Even Lusaka times has stopped blocking me and deleting my comments. The wind of change is being felt. Don’t worry you Lusaka times minions we will employ you. You are still zambian even though you were biased against us upnd. We will ensure that you change for the better and are independent and fair in your reporting. Good evening zambia

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  8. Hahaha things fall apart. The last days of pf. Hope Kaiser Zulu has exit strategy. He should be seeking asylum in Russia where his huIe hails from. There the skin heads will teach him how to behave

    Even Lusaka times has stopped blocking me and deleting my comments. The wind of change is being felt. Don’t worry you Lusaka times minions we will employ you. You are still zambian even though you were biased against us upnd. We will ensure that you change for the better and are independent and fair in your reporting. Good evening zambia

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  9. Sishungwa is a upnd cadre, thus we should treat him as such. Writing uninformed and unsubstanciated articles to discredit the PF and its leader will not get upnd votes. In fact such articles prove that upnd’s fortunes have dwindled and are fast running out of ideas. GBM has left, ECLs confidence is up for example (that’s why he nailed that press briefing). Ferrying buses of cadres to CB to stage mass rallies and such articles are a recipe for disaster for upnd and hh, and his visionless advisors like Sishungwa.

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    • He’s been puffing on lye all the damn time instead of raising standards at the University.
      How can students innovate out’a power situation with lecturers like this nonentity?

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  10. Lungu is not a suitable candidate for PF.Lungu should have allowed kambwili to take over.UPND may win bcoz PF members think Lungu know nothing.If our president was smart he shoould not stand in 2021.We still love PF but its difficult to defend Lungu because Zambia in this mess.

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  11. President Lungu is winning 2021 if only his administration will restore hope in People of Lusaka and Copperbelt.
    Load shedding and austerity measures should not be on government agenda anymore.People live in abject poverty mainly because of austerity issues.
    People (except for southerners)have natural love for president Lungu.Only that majority have crept into frustration because of economic upheavals that came with austerity measures.
    REMOVE AUSTERITY MEASURES
    RESTORE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
    APPLY GOOD DOMESTIC POLICY eg on meal meal prices.

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    • Am thinking either you didn’t take your medication today or you are Lungu himself.
      Also talk to your Doctor about adjusting the medication dosage for effectiveness
      Even Lungu’s dog knows theirs no hope for him at the ballot unless Kaizer Zulu does the rigging.

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    • Updeads are whipping boys.
      Even a fellow after ECL in 2021 will easily beat double h bad.
      Politics is not game for kids and your little “kidily” talk.

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  12. For fudge’s sake, it’s not meal meal, it’s mealie meal, or maize meal, or maize floor.
    And leadership far extends beyond the price of ‘meal meal’.
    Don’t be a shallow minded voter, look at the state of affairs, as well as the so called leadership.
    And I think it’s time we put politics of tribe aside, ‘people naturally love Lungu, except the southerners’.
    What people? Be serious, and consider how the PF have lost seats to UPND in eastern province.

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  13. Sometimes I wonder if the OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT is alive or dead , I mean O.P operations.They doesn’t help the Nation to move on positive way.
    How do we have this kind of mess in the country…? It’s too much.And voting HH will be another National disaster because HH is a tribal leader with a lots of hatred,bitterness and violence political ideology probably a student of Kumbula’s political propaganda.They have had tribal hegemonies on other tribal groups across the country.They believe in tribal supremacy.Evidence is very clear ,look how UPND members issue out tribal remarks in parliament even though they are minority.

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  14. While I may not fully agree with the article, what I am sure of is that the PF project has come to an end and this end is self-inflicting in the way they have taken up issues of national leadership especially corruption, yes their could be other issues like the credibility of leaders within PF most of whom have street kid mentality and the erosion of many arms of government through corruption and blatant disregard to the rulings from these arms of government which have caused a lot of government workers to now start working against the system because the system does not respect them, eg LOOK AT HOW THE POLICE HAVE BECOME SUBORDINATE TO PARTY CADRES, the issues are many but for now let me end here because the Alfa will affect not much change of the status core anywhere according to his own…

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  15. Take home message: “Grand corruption has become so endemic one might be forgiven for mistaking it for an election promise on which the government has been striving to deliver.“ ~ Sishuwa

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  16. Hard work brings more wealth in the family, folding arms and waiting for someone to do it for you brings hunger, poverty, frustrations and shame in the family. Talking will not bring food on your table, as empty buckets makes alot of noise. Stay focus and teach your children and your family how to work hard in life. Successful people are always ahead of time, they believe that time is money. You can think of changing the government or the President today, still if you’re not focused and beliving in yourself you will remain behide as your friends progresses.

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  17. “Natural love for Lungu ” is not good enough at all!! Lungu and his clueless mediocre bunch of thieves has progressively driven this country to a near point of no return and we think enough is enough!! Those Zambians who still think that there is hope left in Lungu are simply hanging on because they feed from Lungu’s stolen funds. Any decent Zambia loving person should by now have realized that this government is not interested in the once before One Zambia One Nation, peace loving and fairly rich country we used to be. Let’s understand that PF is not taking us anywhere good and they are not paying our bills, feeding us or educating our children at all!! They are looking out for themselves!!

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  18. # 21 – Yes you are right in saying what you have said. Hard work is good as it brings wealth, but thieving takes away the wealth that others have worked for. There is nothing wrong with debates about the state of the economy and I would encourage any citizen[s] who want to express their opinions about the poor state of our country- good or bad. There is no point in supporting a president who is clearly taking the country to ruins. What are you gaining from his incompetency? Why should you work hard when he is not? If you care about your country, speak up and get rid!! Lungu has no leadership qualities, he can’t articulate on an intellectual level and he is simply being kept in by poor citizens and the few who are benefiting financially.

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  19. I think Bowman would be the best placed to be made Veep because he is 130% loyal to lungu and would lick Lungus feet if Lungu asked him to.

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  20. I don’t care about what’s happening within pf theoretically, the economy’s bite is real and painful and it’s upto us Zambians to change things. We can sit and hope that pf will self implode

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  21. Thank you Sishuwa for your insight. The PF has been a curse from its inception. They thrive on regionalism, grand corruption, utter arrogance of feeling of invincibility and unassailability (ask kaizar zulu’s victims). But worry not. Nothing built on evil schemes lasts forever.

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    • True, evil schemes shroulded and concealed in tribalism must not even begin building up let alone form Government because ethnic cleansing is the direct resultant undertaking.
      We shall resoundingly and resolutely give ECL a last mandate in 2021 so that he can complete his programs and prove his ever critics like suwa si. After 2021, a news leader will emerge, not CKinsultor, not ka h² not ka HK, trust me. Zambia has more formidable and capable leaders than utu na tantawila apa.

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  22. Once you have a God given leader, not even your greatest enemy dressed liked your best friend can take you down. None of those plans will work. @Thorn_in_the_flesh we completely agree with you

    We really have to put our hands together and support our Government. Thats the only way we can achieve our goals. If we have any ill minded individuals in our Government, they will surely be spotted. Prident Edgar Lungu is doing all He can over such and we all have witnessed similar actions in the past, from now untill 2027, we are advocates of change for our country under our Government.

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  23. The UPND’s greatest opponent is president Lungu. They know this and have always wanted him not to stand. By him being attacked by both the UPND and some elements belonging to Sata’s family they will just make him stronger and look like a victim. How I wish Nawakwi and president Muliyanda were still very active in Politics.

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  24. Writing an article is not a problem. The problem is you people,the media. Have respect for the government don`t yapp anyhow just work hard, you think food just comes like magic? you need to get up and stand on your feets dont be lazy. What has the government has to do with your homes anyways? Dr. Edgar Lungu will still rule 2021.

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  25. When times are hard its normal to feel like “this is too much”…Its okay to break and you don’t have to be in denial about it.. You’re human and you hurt too… let it out but just don’t dare give up afterwards

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  26. HH AND UPND ARE VERY CROOKED, IN 2016 THEY REALLY RIGGED IN SOUTHERN PROVINCE AND PARTS OF WESTERN. NOT ONLY DID THEY REGISTER UNDER AGE CHILDREN AND TRANSPORTED THEM TO VOTING CENTRES, BUT ALSO MADE MOST PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN GET TWO NATIONAL REGISTRATION CARDS SO THAT THEY REGISTERED MORE THAN ONCE AND VOTED MORE THAN ONCE! THEY REALIZED THAT ITS NOT EASY TO RIG DURING VOTING PERIOD SO THEY CAME UP WITH PRE-VOTING RIGGING AND THOUGHT THAT THEIR HH COULD WIN WITH ONE PROVINCE OUT TEN! BUT HOW CAN HE RULE TEN PROVINCES AFTER WINNING CONVINCINGLY IN ONE PROVINCE OUT TEN, LIKE IT TURNED OUT WITH HH GETTING 47,000 VOTES AGAINST LUNGU’S 240 IN DUNDUMWEZI!? HHs TIME HAS PASSED! HE MESSED UP HIS CHANCES WHEN HE MASTER-MINDED CHASING OF SAKWIBA SIKOTA, PATRICK CHISANGA AND ROBERT SICHINGA FROM…

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  27. The reason, why get half baked graduates from unza, is because we have lecturers who do not concentrate on their core functions like teaching, research and publications in reputable journals. Or you get are childish politicians masquerading as lecturers. I can bet this dishwasher boy has never written a single proposal that has brought in a grant into the university.

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  28. This article is such trash it’s not worth a comment. Sishuwa Sishuws -has some psychological issues needing deliverance. Even if they had the so called plan, would it ever require you to unveil it? Or you have s narcissistic addiction to reading your own articles on social media?

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