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Alba Iulia
Saturday, July 17, 2021

THE FEEL GOOD FACTOR: An important determinant of how people vote.

Columns THE FEEL GOOD FACTOR: An important determinant of how people vote.

By Dr C Ngoma

Why do people turn to drugs, whether alcohol or cocaine, marijuana or nicotine? The answer is simple, they want to feel good. One who is high on drugs can feel good even if they are homeless, even if their life is in a mess and their marriage is in a shambles. One can feel good if high on drugs even if they have no food on the table. Once one is high on drugs, the neurotransmitters in their brain changes their perception of reality and they will not believe you, no matter what facts you present to them. Brain scientists tell us that the feel good factor does not just come from drugs. It comes from many other things in life and it appears as though our brains are naturally endowed with this capability, even before old Noah discovered alcohol from grape juice.

There is no doubt at all that on paper Zambia is in dire straits. The times are out of joint and we have come to a pretty pass as a nation. However, it is not the first time and we have been here before. We have a history of suffering from political trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Zambia. This is very much like being on sedative hypnotics. For 27 years we sang the praises of one man while the economy tanked and there were human rights abuses under The Preservation of Public security Act. That we did love KK when he was President and even after, it is true, but eventually Zambians woke up albeit very late. We felt good about KK. Change only came when people loved Zambia more than they loved KK and waking up from that malaise they told the dear man to move to multi-party democracy.

There has been much study into how people vote and what their motivations are. In general, people who are avowed members of a party are most likely to vote for that party unless something really dramatic happens such that they feel that they are alienated from the party they once acknowledged. This happened in 2020 in the USA Republican Party. In the United Kingdom, the Jeremy Corbin Labour Party had more members on its roll than any other party, but they performed miserably at the last election. It becomes clear then that election results are determined by those who do not belong to a political party but vote.

When the UPND and PF were in alliance against the MMD, Hakainde Hichilema and Michael Sata spoke at one press meeting. HH gave a sanitised and surgical assessment of the state of the economy and why the MMD must go. It was full of facts but elicited no response from the audience. Sata opened his address with, ‘You have heard economics, now let me tell you politics.’ With these words, the audience went agog! Whatever Sata said after that was nectar to the audience. When the alliance failed, Sata emerged winner. There was something about Sata that made one feel a warmth inside, even when he was dishing out expletives!

The Zambian economy was in a much better shape than it had ever been for 20 years when Rupiah Banda was President, in spite of the 2008 global financial crash! Nonetheless, RB’s government failed to win in 2011. Economics on paper is not the same as household-nomics. There is a thing called ‘the feel-good factor.’ I fear that this is a most neglected component to why people vote the way they do. It is very difficult to measure but in a small way it starts with how people feel about a person. How much giggling goes on in the audience as one is speaking?

How did people feel when they listened to HH? How do people feel when they see President Edgar Lungu? Do they feel like they should shout, ‘Lungu mastigo?’ Do the grassroots feel angry? When one feels good, they ignore reality. They will not even bother to turn up to vote. We may have the worst economy in the history of the country for a long time, but do people feel bad? Will Zambians love country more and do good by the country in less than a month’s time?

Judge for yourselves because that is what may determine the result if there is a free and fair election.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Did you say the determinant is “the Feel good factor” really? This is why Zambia is badly failing coz you’re voting emotions instead of facts,business fundamentals and science.

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  2. The Best article Doc and very enlightening even for the analysis of my own current business where I am competing with multi national organisations in my country of choice. Much appreciated. I see more than what you said here and I have an answer for myself. Thanks

  3. Well-spoken, this article is very neutral in who it supports and it is on this that anyone can say which direction we are heading as a nation in this coming elections.

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  4. @ powerful, your comment is very true and it is up to an individual to judge for yourselves
    The 2 many parties supporters would want someone to write what favors there party.

  5. Yes the economy was faily liquid under RB and and not strong since it lacked very strong industrial base. We should also remember that it’s in this same period that Zamtel was sold and Finance bank was almost sold only to be reversed so RB would have made things worse had he won the 2011 elections going by unbridled levels of corruption.People were simply tired of MMD. The story is different today not many people are tired of PF and the reason is that we have seen the strides the party has made in the last ten years in building the economy in very difficult times globally not withstanding the levels of corruption and the cadre culture. The other reason is that there is no convincing alternative to switch to at the moment so the status quo continues.

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  6. Yes the economy was fairly liquid under RB and and not strong since it lacked very strong industrial base. We should also remember that it’s in this same period that Zamtel was sold and Finance bank was almost sold only to be reversed so RB would have made things worse had he won the 2011 elections going by unbridled levels of corruption.People were simply tired of MMD. The story is different today not many people are tired of PF and the reason is that we have seen the strides the party has made in the last ten years in building the economy in very difficult times globally not withstanding the levels of corruption and the cadre culture. The other reason is that there is no convincing alternative to switch to at the moment so the status quo continues.

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  7. Very objective observation. I must add though that the feel good factor is a venerability for those less intelligent voters. Those are the same voters who are easily bought with ‘gifts’ just before elections. Unfortunately they are also the most of our voters. More like Trump voters who are inspired by clowning instead of substance.

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  8. Very true analysis. Thats wy one leader is using tribalism to get votes frm his kinsmen who shdnt wory about the tough reality.

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  9. What is not mentioned in most narratives is what brought about the economic “crisis”. Factor in the 2014 global commodities bust, 2015 power crisis, 2017 drought and the 2019 covid pandemic. But many want to say the PF is solely responsible for “destroying” the economy. In the midst of the disasters mentioned, the country has endured and pragmatic voters will vote based on reality and not the vague propaganda of the opposition that offers little alternative. Vote wisely.

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  10. The question is did people benefit from good economics figures under RB?The answer is no.Under PF with a bad economy people can see roads, schools and hospitals.

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  11. Majority of Zambian voters are semi literate, and don’t care about the state of the economy as long as they can dance to slogans and be bribed with maize meal and campaign materials…..

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  12. @Spaka-Majority of Zambians have refused to be duped by upnd’s lies, full stop. We all get t-shirts and campaign handouts but we vote wisely. August 12, hh Ku wire….

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  13. Alebwelelapo pamupando!

    This is a feel good article.
    Let me give you politics. Charismatic leaders win elections. Country asset sellers will never win the hearts of the people not in 2006, not in 2008, not in 2011, not in 2016 of course not in 2021.
    I don’t like chaps in the title Dr. who still dwell in the past. Economy on paper vs that on the ground.
    Meanwhile after all Zambians know that it’s PF100%, ECL100%, Zambia overdrive100%, Bumper harvest 100%, Elite Zambians100%, Peace100%, Empowerment100%, More money in your pockets with hard work 100% and Prosperity100%.

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  14. #12  Zambian Citizen 
    July 16, 2021 At 11:36 am

    “@Spaka-Majority of Zambians have refused to be duped by upnd’s lies, full stop. We all get t-shirts and campaign handouts but we vote wisely. August 12, hh Ku wire……”

    Antonio, only in Africa can a useless leader like lungu be allowed to be president…..

     The bum has indebted zambia to the tune of $20 billion and can’t pay back and is now begging the IMF for help…..

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  15. #12  Zambian Citizen 
    July 16, 2021 At 11:36 am

    “@Spaka-Majority of Zambians have refused to be duped by upnd’s lies, full stop. We all get t-shirts and campaign handouts but we vote wisely. August 12, hh Ku wire……”

    Antonio, only in Africa can a useless leader like lungu be allowed to be president…..

     The morron has indebted zambia to the tune of $20 billion and can’t pay back and is now begging the IMF for help…..

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  16. When u are Hungry there is no “feel good factor”. Njala inyokola. People are worried about the High Cost of Living, PF Cadre Violence and thuggery, PF extrajudicial Killings and Gassing etc. People want Rule of Law,Good Governance and Respect for Human Rights. Time for HH and UPND Alliance to Rule and bring Peace,Stability and Progress.

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  17. #16, Why eerytime it is HH to take ovdr? Why not Jalana, the most principled candidate? What is this musical chair mentality?

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