By Sean Tembo – PeP President
1. At the peak of the mobile issuance exercise of National Registration Cards (NRCs) sometime late last year, they were several videos and pictures that were trending and which depicted NRCs being issued to children as young as 8 years, as well as two or more NRCs issued to one person. In another instance, they were photos of NRCs issued to some people who also had nationality documents from other countries such as Malawi. Of course, I examined these videos and photos with my forensic eye but they all did not appear to be photo-shopped or tempered with. They appeared to be genuine pictures and videos. This would obviously be very troubling to every well-meaning citizen of this Republic, because the obvious conclusion to be drawn from these videos and photos is that the ruling PF and its Government were issuing fake NRCs to ineligible people (under-age and foreigners) in a desperate attempt to manipulate the 2021 general elections.
2. But l found it had to believe. Not hard to believe that the PF would try to manipulate this year’s general elections, no. Of course they would. They are desperate enough to do that and they do not have the moral conscious to prevent them from making such attempts. I found it hard to believe that if the PF wanted to manipulate this year’s general elections, they would employ such methods as issuing NRCs to 8 year olds and foreigners from Malawi. You see, an 8 year old is too much of a child and even if they disguised themselves, it’s very unlikely that they can look like 16 year olds, the eligible age in Zambia. And you must also remember that here in Zambia we do physical voting on elections day, which means that such an 8 year old would have to queue up at a polling station, in front of cameras from all-over the world, and attempt to cast a vote. I doubt that such kids would survive a beating from the other voters on the queue. Such a plan of rigging elections simply cannot work, and whoever would put it together would obviously be a naive person. I found it hard to believe that the PF would be that naive to put in place such a folly plan for rigging the general elections. Again, not that it is beyond them to make such an attempt, of course not. But if they did, they would obviously find a more ingenuous way of doing it, not something as folly as using 8 year olds. Not even 15 year-olds, imagine? But 8 year-olds! Who can be that naive really?
3. The same applies to the folly scheme of issuing NRCs to foreigners so that on elections day, they can come and vote for the chipani. On the face of it, it may appear to be a viable scheme, but when you think about its practicality, you then realize that it’s not that practical after all. You see, you would need a huge convoy of buses to transport these foreigners into Zambia on Election Day. To illustrate my point, an average big bus carries about 70 passengers, so for you to transport just 700 illegal voters into the country, you need 10 big buses. Now, can you imagine the commotion that would arise when a convoy of 10 big buses enters the country on Election Day? And then, all these 700 people would need to be fed somewhere? And remember that gatherings are not allowed on elections day because campaigns end two days earlier. There would just be too much chaos and pandemonium that would be created for just 700 foreigners to enter this country on elections day. Now imagine 10,000 foreigners? Even if they came gradually, much early before Election Day, they would need to be accommodated somewhere. Word would surely go round that there is a group of foreigners staying at such and such location that have fake NRCs and Voter’s Cards and are waiting to vote on Elections Day. They will obviously be pounced upon by the public. So this scheme is simply not practical, and whoever would conceive it would simply be a naive person.
4. But again, my mind kept being bothered by the NRCs that were circulating around. This all reached a crescendo when a Mr Mubita Nawa and a Mr Anthony Bwalya paraded the irregular NRCs on an edition of the Assignment Programme on Muvi TV. As months passed by after that TV program, l kept wondering when we shall get an official response from Government regarding these irregularly issued NRCs which the UPND duo had presented on Muvi TV. And then the Police announced the arrest of the UPND duo and three other officials working in the National Registration Office, including a Provincial Registrar for Luapula Province for alleged theft of 1,500 blank NRC cards. Then everything began to fall in place in my mind.
5. There is no question that from the word go, the United Party for National Development (UPND) and its leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema together with selected NGOs, have always sought to discredit this years elections by creating an exaggerated picture that they are fraught with fraud and irregularities. So they have been condemning anything and everything without any basis. They arbitrarily condemn ECZ, they condemn individual ECZ employees and demean them, they condemn ECZ commissioners, they condemn the National Registration Office, they condemn anyone and everyone involved in the electoral process. I have never really quite understood their game-plan on this. Because from my standpoint, when you create a public perception that the entire electoral process is already rigged, you actually end up discouraging some voters who might feel that it will be a waste of time to turn up on elections day since the outcome is already predetermined due to a rigged electoral process. And as an opposition political party, you want a high voter turnout. So by discouraging people from voting, you are actually shooting yourselves in the foot. But since it is a UPND strategy, it is not for me to understand. I may probably be missing something.
6. In view of the revelations of the past few days about the 1,500 blank NRCs that were stolen and subsequently forged in order to create a false public perception that the Government is issuing NRCs to ineligible people such as children and foreigners and also issuing some individuals with two or more NRCs, it is my strong suspicion that all this was engineered by the UPND and its leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema. And there is ample circumstantial evidence to this effect. When pictures and and videos of these irregularly issued NRCs were circulating on social media, a significant portion of the public dismissed them as photo-shopped. Realizing this, the UPND needed someone who was brave enough to present these fake NRCs on live national television, so that it can be more convincing to the public than the videos that they had earlier been circulating. And lord behold, Mr Mubita Nawa and Mr Anthony Bwalya possibly offered themselves for this task. Or perhaps they were approached. Whatever the case, when these two gentlemen appeared on the Assignment Programme, they were very convincing. It was evident that they had prepared thoroughly.
7. As months passed after that Muvi TV assignment program, they UPND were possibly convinced that they had pulled off a perfect act. Possibly as a way of rewarding the two actors, the UPND President Mr Hakainde Hichilema proceeded to appoint Mr Mubita Nawa as his Special Assistant for Special Duties (whatever that means, but the appearance of the word “Special” twice in the title appears to be special on its own). He also proceeded to appoint Mr Anthony Bwalya as his Spokesperson, replacing the longstanding Mr Brian Mwiinga. All this is irrefutable circumstantial evidence that the NRCs chaos was choreographed by the UPND. No wonder it did not make sense. No one rigs elections by issuing NRCs to 8 year olds and foreigners. That’s just dumb.
8. From my standpoint as a bonafide citizen of this Republic, l care less about the election strategy that the UPND and its leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema decide to employ. It is non of my business. But only if it does not undermine the peace and security of this nation, which l happen to love and cherish so much. The moment that the UPND’s or the PF’s election machinations impact on the peace and security of this country, then it becomes my business. And it should also become your business as well, if you are a well-meaning citizen of this Republic. You see, ever since this nation was born, several decades ago, many individuals have aspired to be Republican President. A few succeeded, many failed but the Republic has lived on. No individual politician, no matter how popular they are, has a right to hold the peace and security of this country at ransom. Those practicing a scorched-earth policy in their politics must be held accountable. If the good citizens of this nation want to make Mr Hichilema to be their President on 12th August this year, they shall sure do it. If they don’t then they won’t. But the UPND have no right to sow seeds of discord now by creating a narrative that the entire electoral process is fraudulent whereby if their candidate loses the elections on 12th August then they want the people to be up in arms that the election has been stolen. Such behavior is not responsible behavior and on this particular score, l personally will support the action that Government will take to bring such unscrupulous individuals to book. Zambia is too big and too important to be held to ransom by the political ambitions of one individual.