By Dr. Joze Manda
The sooner we are all clear that elections are not won on social media but on the ground and through the ballot box, the quicker we will understand that it is a fallacy for political parties like UPND to claim election victory based on a thousand likes on social media propaganda write ups and fancy comments.
Such is the spell of which UPND, its members and supporters suffer from. They are under the illusion that they can win an election seating in their fancy offices and air-conditioned houses, massaging their cell phone and computer keyboards with fancy comments, fake news and inconsistent propaganda.
Well it is tempting to think that politics mostly happens online, since that is where so much of the rest of life now occurs; it is very dangerous, retrogressive and sheer laziness to think Zambian politics start and end online.
Winning elections requires figuring out who your voters are and moving them to the polls on election day and that requires serious and vigorous groundwork and direct contact with the voters. It is one thing to swim in a million likes on social media and another thing to win an election.
Elections in Zambia are won on the ground and no amount of social media propaganda will reach kwa pyana bwalya or deliver a service to dudumwenzi or just a stone throw away in lwimba, in the Chongwe area.
There is no doubt that social media has changed the way in which politics plays out in Zambia. The news cycle is now real-time with gaffes, announcements, and failures played to a hard-core political class that in turn relays their narrative to a narrowing base of party activists. We know that social media is influential but can it actually win a political party an election?
The answer it seems is NO, for all the hype, Facebook had little real impact on the 2016 election in Zambia.
In fact, more active Facebook users who have more connections and belonged to more Facebook groups tend to be less politically active on the real ground than the population at large who are the real voters.
Most UPND social media supporters are simply armchair critics who don’t even understand the strategy of voter mobilization. From our short analysis, it is now clear that UPND has more people playing social media politics and that has created an illusion in their minds that they are popular and they have already won the 2021 elections.
Those that pedal social media propaganda have spent all their time highlighting the challenges that the PF government is facing instead of offering alternative solutions in black and white.
This social media overzealousness of UPND also explains why opposition parties in Zambia have a problem winning elections because they work with a mental illusion of being popular in their minds when they are not. This kind of behavior is what breeds’ violence at the slightest reality of a loss in an election.
UPND must prepare for yet another loss nest month, as we all know that there is absolutely nothing they have offered to counter the challenges we face as a country, but they have concentrated more on propaganda against the government at the slightest opportunity they get, even at the death of our Founding Father KK.
It must be agreed and noted here forth that the role of the opposition is crucial to a democracy and speaks directly to Zamia`s future. Opposition plays varying roles in parliament, on behalf of their constituency, within policy, policy development and accounting for project implementation and as such their obsession should not only be to ascend to power but to offer alternative views and represent the people and not a self-proclaimed hero who has been rejected numerous times by the same people he claims to represent, Bally or no bally, UPND and HH are still a directionless lot.
The problem with UPND is that they opposed everything that the government tried to do in the last ten years including the bill of rights.
Today they are blaming the PF of being selective in its development agenda when it is their “Bally” who instructed them NOT to work with the PF government, what a shame.
It is very unfortunate that HH now thrives at the challenges we are facing as a way to get himself into the statehouse.
HH must examine himself to determine if he wants power to enrich himself or to help the Zambians, but as things stand, it is clear to all of us to see that his intentions are not noble and we must reject his kind of politics.
What kind of leader would rejoice when people are suffering because it almost creates an opportunity for him to gain political power?
Dr. Joze Manda is a Political Analyst based in Lusaka