By Peter Sinkamba- President, The Greens
Voting and voter turn-out are mainly influenced by five fundamental psychological motives which include selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval. These motives have precedents in the literature, and have extensively evaluated.
We have compiled a desk review based on the above motives to evaluate which one of the two candidates—President Edgar Lungu (ECL) for PF and UPND Candidate Hakainde Hichilema (HH)—is likely to win the elections on 12 August 2021. Sources of data were mainly Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) databases, as well as mainstream and social media platforms, focusing on reactions to issues connected to or incidental to the two leaders, as discussed below. The period of interest was from January to May 2021.
From literature surveyed, it is well established that altruism and duty are the most important reported motives for turnout and voting, accounting for more than 60% of the allocations, while selfish motives account for only about 15%. It is also empirically established that turnout behaviour responds positively to the motives of duty, altruism, and belonging, but it is dampened by the motive of selfishness. It is also well-known from literature that turning out to vote emerges as an activity that is largely shaped by an individual’s social concerns and values, in other words,social approval.
By social approval in this context, we mean positive appraisal and acceptance of a presidential candidate by political party members, and the general public, focusing on behaviour, traits, attributes, or the like, of that candidate. This tenet manifests in inform of compliments, praise, statements of approbation, and so on. We consider social disapproval by taking into consideration the way political party members and the general public express their rejection and condemnation of a presidential candidate for an action or behaviour that a particular political group or the general public see as wrong.
Our review of mainstream and social media platforms found that 99% of UPND members give social approval of HH as the President of Zambia. They believe that his behaviour, traits, and attributes would make him a better President of the Republic than ECL.
On ECL, UPND members and sympathizers claim that he is discriminatory because he focuses on appeasing PF cadres. However, 80% of PF members give social approval of ECL as the President of Zambia. They claim that HH has anti-social behaviour, and that his persona will deepen divisions in the country. They further claim that HH is largely inaccessible,and therefore cannot be inclusive in his government. Hence, PF members prefer ECL for continuity because he is “President” for all Zambians.
By altruism, we mean the behaviour and actions of a presidential candidate aimed at benefitting another individual at a cost to the candidate. For example, the giving away by a presidential candidate of own possessions, through a structured programme that is targeted at vulnerable societal groups. Such an action is considered altruistic because on one hand, it helps someone who is poor, but on the other hand, it is service at a cost of a respective candidate for being deprived of own personal wealth or possessions. The basic principle of altruism is that a person has no right to exist for his own sake; that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is a person’s highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Our review established that ECL is altruistic while HH is not. There is no doubt that as at 1990, ECL and HH had relatively equal wealth if any, as both were corporate executives with a very small difference in terms of employment period. It is also a fact that between 1990 and 2020, they have both accrued wealth through their works, except that HH has acquired more wealth than ECL.
However, a review of mainstream and social media platforms shows that ECL has been giving away a very significant portion of his own personal possessions, through various structured economic empowerment programmes targeted at vulnerable societal groups. Meanwhile, HH is considered selfish because he has no such altruistic programme despite his gigantic wealth. Selfishness is one key factor that emerged as likely to cost HH the 2021 election.
In evaluating belongingness, we considered the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a social grouping. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion, tribe or something else, people tend to have an inherent desire to belong, and be an important part of something greater than themselves. This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give and receive attention to and from others.
Belonging is a strong and inevitable feeling that exists in human nature. To belong or not to belong is a subjective experience that can be influenced by a number of factors within ourselves and our surrounding environment. Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary argue that belongingness is such a fundamental human motivation that we feel severe consequences for not belonging. This desire is so universal that the need to belong is found across all cultures and different types of people. Some political leaders consider Hakainde Hichilema as tribal on account that Southern, Western and Northwestern Provinces have given him massive votes from 2011 to 2016.
That is a mistaken notion. It is not tribal at all. Rather it is a virtue of belongingness which inevitable and is an organic inevitable human feeling, hence, members of political parties vote for their respective parties. For the same reason, it will be noted that church membership is influenced by origins of people. Seventh Day Church members are usually from certain regions, just like Reformed Church of Zambia, Apostolic Church of Zambia, United Church of Zambia, Lumpa Church, etc.
Through the belongingness factor, Southern, Western, Central and North Western Provinces voters are more likely to vote for HH than ECL. Eastern, Muchinga, Northern, and Luapula Provinces voters are likely to vote for ECL than HH. Lusaka and Copperbelt will be battleground Provinces, likely swing the election in favour of either candidate. There is nothing tribal about voting from all provinces.
In evaluation the sense of duty, 80% of UPND members consider ECL as lazy on account of his declaration of holidays. They claim he likes ‘parte-after parte’. Meanwhile, 99% of PF members argue that ECL is dutiful, as will be noted from his wearing of military uniforms when in the field working with security and defence personnel. They also argue that his “sela tubombe” mantrawhich has resulted in massive infrastructure development countrywide, and regular inspections of projects, is proof of his commitment to duty.
Furthermore, they argue, besides President Lungu, no other Republican President after the First Republican President the late Dr. Kaunda has ever worn military uniforms when interacting or carrying out filed work with military and security personnel on duty. Only President Kaunda did so. This, according to PF members, is a demonstration of a very high sense of commitment to duty. They doubt that HH can ever wear military uniform on such duty “because he likes mimicking capitalist and suits are a symbol white collar lazy work culture”. PF members also argue that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” to justify the need for holidays.
Based on the above five fundamental psychological motives: selfishness, duty, altruism, belonging, and social approval, coupled with election results evaluated by province; voter turn-out; total votes cast; votes cast for PF and UPND from 2011 to 2021; and the pattern of the 2021 voter registration, as is shown in the two Tables below, it is projected that at the very least, ECL will win the August 12 election by at least 50.29% of the total votes cast, with HH at 43.65%. At the most, it is projected that ECL will win the election by 50.8% with HH at 44.50%.