By Kapya Kaoma.
Ignore the Opinion polls, the campaign songs, TV and Radio Ads, the social media posts and the big crowds. August 12, 2021, is all that matters! We will surely wake up to jubilant songs for some, and tears for others. For the Presidential results, we will wait for days to know the winner. As votes roll in, team HH and Lungu will be waiting to celebrate. Yet 50+1 may spoil the party for both. No wonder HH and Lungu dread August 12.
Is it going to add to HH’s list of historic losses in Zambian history? Will it be the day when he will cry like a kid wondering what just happened? Will it be the day when he will finally retire from politics? Or will August 12 finally rewrite his autobiography by becoming the seventh President of Zambia and grant him a burial site at Embassy Park? Or will it be the day when he will put his tail between his legs, pick up the phone, and call M’membe, Kalaba, Mumba and others and beg for their hand?
As for Lungu, is this the day when he will dance and thank his ancestors for giving him another term in office? Is this the day he will thank his cronies, GBM, Kambwili and Nawakwi and many others for their inglorious ethnic and unethical stoloniferous lies about HH? Or will August 12 send him parking from Plot 1, and probably land him and his minions in jail for the many crimes committed against Zambians? Will he cringe before HH as if to the Pope, reverently begging for a pardon? Will he cry like Rupiah Banda, knowing it’s over and swallow his pride, and fear HH’s vindictive wrath? Or will it be the day when he will ask his imps to take sacks of U.S. dollars to M’membe, Kalaba, Mumba and others and ask them to unite against HH? After all politics is a good game, today’s enemies are tomorrow’s buddies.
These scenarios are possible despite the myth presented by Opinion polls. In cases where the Constitution demands 50+1, and a big number of candidates are running, Opinion Polls are hard to interpret. A candidate may lead in a Poll, but she or he may not win the elections. Lungu may lead HH 45 to 40, but that won’t make him President unless he meets 50+1 of the total vote cast on election day. Pollsters must add this element to the interpretation of Opinion Polls–our Constitution demands a 50+1 threshold for one to become president. Hence we may not have a winner following the August 12, elections.
Besides, the 2021 landscape is totally different from the 2016 scenario, where we had only HH and Lungu as illustrious candidates. The closest one would compare it to is 2001–we have some candidates who may flummox this election one way or the other. Unlike FDD Edith Nawakwi in 2016, it will be a mistake for the PF or the UPND to think M’membe, Kalaba and others would get 0% of the total vote. Assuming that all smaller players get 11% (on a conservative end) and we add 1% of spoiled ballots, HH and Lungu have 88% of the vote to split. It implies that one has to get 38% while the other has to get 50% to win in the first round.
PF thinks it would win by 70%–leaving HH at 18%. With the economy biting, such a margin only exists on Mars. No wonder Professor Lou is desperately lying about HH’s position on homosexuality–he is just as Homophobic as Lungu. But the UPND should not take it lightly. It is a psychological game–a propaganda tool that aims to push the UPND into believing that the election will be decided in the first round. It is this game that cost the UPND the 2016 election. Rather the UPND should go into this election ready for the RE-RUN–it must run the marathon as opposed to a sprint to Plot 1! All presidential votes must be carefully monitored, counted and protected if HH has a long short on the Presidency. If UPND goes only for the HH vote, the PF is more likely to steal some votes from smaller parties in its strongholds. Such parties won’t have reasons to contest the results–thus giving the PF the path to 50+1. Even then, it would be hard for the UPND to petition the election results on behalf of other candidates if they are not parties to the lawsuit–another reason HH should start building bridges before August 12.
M’membe, Kalaba, and others are not bystanders in this race. These candidates are aware that they won’t win this election, but they will be spoilers–that is they will make it hard for either Lungu or HH to get 50 + 1. If the adage that politics has no permanent enemies, but common interests stands, these candidates are not wasting their time. The question is, to whom are they going to sell their souls?
This is a billion dollar question giving HH and Lungu sleepless nights!