Why the PF won the Kaumbwe parliamentary election


By Sishuwa Sishuwa

On 21 October 2021, Zambia’s main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) scooped the Kaumbwe parliamentary election in Petauke district, Eastern Province, defeating four other political parties – namely, the governing United Party for National Development (UPND), the Socialist Party (SP), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Party for National Unity and Progress (PNUP) – and two independent candidates. The Kaumbwe poll was held now, separately from the general election on 12 August, because of the untimely death of then UPND candidate Borniface Khondowe in July.

PF candidate Aaron Mwanza polled 6, 633 votes and was followed by the UPND’s Esnart Sakala who obtained 3, 117 ballots. The SP’s Masauso Daka was third with 1, 835 votes, way ahead of the DP’s Wilbase Tembo who ended fourth with 517. Next were the two independent contestants – namely Listed Tembo with 446 votes and Yunike Mwale who received 191. The PNUP’s Charles Nyanoka earned his position at the bottom with 120 votes. The relatively low voter turnout that characterized the Kaumbwe poll is typical of elections held after a general one – of the constituency’s 30, 509 registered voters, only 13, 189 (representing 43.2 percent) turned up to cast their vote – but the violence that reportedly marred the campaign may also have dissuaded some to stay away.

How should we interpret the results of the Kaumbwe election? Do they reflect the resurrection of the PF or the beginning of the decline in electoral support for the UPND? Or does the outcome suggest the emergence of the Socialist Party as an alternative to the two leading political parties?

Meaningful responses to these and other questions that can tell us much about the state of Zambia’s political parties would require a consistent pattern of results, ideally at the same level. The performance of parties in a single election, only two months after the last general election, is hardly an indicator of the prevailing national public mood. Any analysis of the Kaumbwe election results that attempts to draw larger conclusions should therefore be treated with caution. For now, what is needed is a brief analysis that explains the success of the former ruling party in the constituency. In my view, there are four main reasons.

The first point is that the PF’s campaign message of ethnic marginalisation proved effective or found fertile ground in Kaumbwe. Only two people in President Hakainde Hichilema’s 28-member Cabinet are from Eastern, a province that had nine ministers under the 32-member cabinet of former president Edgar Lungu. It does not help that most of the recently dismissed Permanent Secretaries are also from Eastern Province – a terrible indictment on Lungu who packed his government with mainly Easterners and Bemba speakers from Muchinga, Luapula and Northern provinces. During the campaign, PF leaders such as Raphael Nakacinda, Given Lubinda and Chishimba Kambwili combined with local ethnic big wigs to exploit this context to their advantage, (falsely) presenting the UPND as an ethnic-regional party that is out to reduce the number of Easterners in key positions in government. Their rhetoric, occasionally bordering on the offence of tribal and hate speech, may have played a role in swaying a significant number of voters towards supporting the PF. Ethnic politics (still) works in Zambia and the earlier the UPND understand this point and formulate effective corrective strategies, the better for their future electoral prospects – especially in certain areas of Muchinga, Luapula and Eastern provinces.

The second factor that explains why the PF secured the Kaumbwe parliamentary seat is that the constituency has been a stronghold of the former ruling party for some time now. In the 2016 election, for instance, Kaumbwe was comfortably won by Listed Tembo who had stood on the PF ticket. The then UPND parliamentary candidate finished a distant third. At presidential level, then President Lungu defeated Hichilema in Kaumbwe with a landside, polling 9, 169 votes against the UPND leader’s 1, 084. In the more recent August election, Lungu won 10, 728 votes against Hichilema’s 3, 773. Having been in power for less than two months, the UPND is yet to do anything tangible for the constituency to win over much of the sceptical electorate or shift their loyalties from the PF. The late delivery of inputs to farmers and the slow pace at which the Food Reserve Agency is purchasing their produce may have contributed to the UPND’s loss.

The third factor is that the UPND had a poor or ineffective campaign strategy in Kaumbwe built around party chairperson for elections Gary Nkombo, a non-Easterner, and opportunistic PF members such as Peter Daka and Moses Mawere. The inclusion of Daka and Mawere in the UPND campaign team – perhaps intended to counter the ethnic rhetoric spread by the PF – did not sit well with the party’s local leaders and even some of the rank and file. Until a few days before the election, key ‘ethnic big men’ from the Eastern Province such as Levy Ngoma and Andrew Banda were not fronted to spearhead the campaign. The capacity of local party campaigners to mount an effective campaign was also undermined by the UPND’s reported reluctance to put more resources – financial and material – into the election. Added to this point is the fact that Hichilema did not spend much time in the constituency, making a cameo campaign appearance that seemed obligatory rather than deliberate. Combined, this inept political strategy greatly aided the PF’s campaign and helped them win Kaumbwe.

The final factor is that the personalities or choice of candidate that the parties adopted in Kaumbwe constituency also mattered. The PF did a good job on this score, identifying an individual who commanded greater grassroots support and had established a lot of community projects in the area. After working in China for much of the last 15 years, the Kaumbwe-born Mwanza returned home last year and endeared himself to many by rehabilitating schools and sinking boreholes in nearly all the constituency’s wards in preparation for this election. While the UPND’s decision to adopt a female candidate is commendable, Sakala is hardly known in Kaumbwe and has little affinity with the place. The relatively good performance of the Socialist Party contender should also be seen in context: it is the result of adopting a candidate with strong roots in the area, one who attempted to tailor his campaign message to specific policy appeals that are salient to the aspirations or concerns of the local people.


  1. Please stop this tribal talk. The Eastern Province gave Mr Hichilema more than 45 percent of the Provincial vote so your insinuating that PF won because of tribal affiliations doesn’t wash at all. The PF lost in Luapula to Upnd (albeit meaningless wards) which had a good share of cabinet positions in PF government, how did this happen ? Why did the Upnd ferry cadres from Lusaka? These people instead of peaceful campaigns ended up disruption other parties campaigns. The people were promised goodies within one week and that one week ended sometime back.

  2. PF winning this seat is a positive indictment of the UPNDs free and fair election pledge…………

    HEHH should be praised for letting people campain freely even when there were grounds to harass them on grounds of spreading tribal hatred …….

    This is a new reality…………

  3. The write-up is skewed . Given Lubinda, Chishimba Kambwili , Edith Nawakwi, and Nakachinda do not hail from eastern province just like Gary Nkombo. Its funny how the “tribal influences” become more “clearer” when it pertains to PF and very “Hazy” when its UPND.
    Its is evident that the learned gentleman is a cadre of UPND. The valid issues in the analysis are negated by the skewedness in the whole analysis. The academia will do justice to the country if at all times they remain objective in their contributions to national development.
    There is evidence which show that voters are hugely influenced by their affiliation/ sympathy to a political party in their voting patterns.

  4. The election result in Kaumbwe in favour of the PF candidate is a welcome move. We should as Zambians avoid a slide into a one-party state. The only way the UPND government will be kept in check is by ensuring that other parties remain strong. UPND made promises which it is not going to fulfil any time soon. Hence the need to ensure that the UPND government is kept on its toes. If the by-election was held in Western, NorthWestern or Western Province, UPND would have won a landslide regardless of the performance of the party so far in government. This is so because these three provinces only want to vote for their own. It is also about time that a balance of power was maintained in our politics by ensuring that people from other provinces other than the three UPND strongholds also vote…

  5. … for their own. Otherwise, the other provinces risk being swallowed up into UPND and Zambia being turned into a one-party state where rule by the people will be synonymous with rule by ethnic groups from 3 provinces.

  6. Shishupu is is just another hopeless tribalist looking for a Job. The reason is very simple for this loss, the directionless youths disappeared from the voting queues after they realized they were gonganed with LIES. Farmers too have rotting maize before them videos are there. 12 fertilizer bags per farmer another LIE. Teachers, a sorry sight, Students no bursaries abeit a LIE of free education. Let the UPND try to cause another bye election and see for yourselves

  7. These are just skeletons of PF, they have no message anymore, I think the elections were not free and fair, is it not PF that promised more money in peoples pockets in 90 days in 2011 but at the end of ten years people had no money in their pockets, then how can Kaumbwe people vote for them, I recommend a petition in this election be lodged and we have a bye election

  8. Truth is Easterners always lag behind. In 1991 they voted for UNIP. In 2006 others had shifted camp and voted for PF, them they remained with MMD. What’s wrong with these people? So I don’t know when they will catch with the rest of the country and realize that PF is dead and rotten

  9. Shishuwa he is so obsessed with tribe…gosh…as educated as he is…it’s so disappointing…what makes him think if someone is Banda then he hails from eastern Province…what if he is a Tonga but he uses his step father’s name….this system of paying attention to someone’s name should come to an end…PLEASE TAKE THIS AS THE RESURRECTION OF PF…meanwhile Faith Musonda is home and dry courtesy of UPND Bandits who have shared her loot

  10. And this guy is a PhD? How can a country develop when its most highly educated intellectuals can’t tell the difference between a rabbit and an elephant?

  11. Sometimes its good to keep silent….just because you have phd doesn’t make you the most knowledgeable, pf did its homework edith virtually camped there, whilst we only sent in tekere whom the easterns have not much regard for…when realization struck those are the sponsored attacks you saw on select parties including PANU, SP and PF….the police were rendered powerless even though they know the culprits…..on the ground people are crying

  12. That part of the country has always been slow to change, they were voting for UNIP post 1991 and I did my secondary there around that time. And after 2011 they were voting MMD…PF had poach former MMD MPs.
    However this is good for democracy…

  13. Don’t forget that PF were allowed to campaign freely without being followed by shushushu wherever they went or being blocked by police to visit certain areas. They were given permits freely, allowed to meet chiefs freely. No civil servant was allowed to campaign for the ruling party or use GRZ vehicles and fuel including acting DC as was the case before. No dishing out of wads of cash from treasury. No DMMU presence dishing out free maize and other goodies like before. This was truly a free and fair election so congratulations to the PF.

  14. The author sounds as though he is bemoaning PF win, he would rather UPND won! Unfortunately for all concerned, people are quick to change – they observe, and then punish.

  15. As a person from a Bemba speaking area it doesn’t bother me on who’s been won the election or has been appointed minister. It also doesn’t bother me if someone calls me umuBemba because I didn’t choose which tribe to be born in. But for others like this double S, it’s like the air that we cannot do without. Even when the robots turn red on him, he will blame it on a tribe. Just concentrate on things that will bring progress to all Zambians regardless of their tribe.


  16. 1. (a) Has it not come across your mind that HH promised people that he would offer Free-Education-For-All, the “minute he walked” into State
    House if elected, which can be interpreted as he was to exercise his Executive Powers.

    (b) HH also promised people that he would reduce Fertilizer by 70% . And I can go on with list but wont bother to do so

    Therefore, people are disappointed with HH. The above points are what a common person cares or worries about especially in the rural areas. This is because they affect the livelihood of people.


  17. 2. Your analysis is very sickening, cheap & biased for a person who has a PHD.

    It was just a few days ago that HH was kneeling and bowing before a junior chief and thanking people of Eastern Province for giving him 49% of the vote. You would think he would have done good to help the UPND Candidate, considering 12th August 2021 was just two months ago.

    You are the people that HH says all the time behind the doors when you chat to him.. that Zambia has a lot of Educated people who have nothing to show for for, but always wanting to be important and relevant for nothing.

    Why? Is this a desperation to get a job. Just use your Mind and Experience to become a Creator of Wealth and Jobs. Knowledge is the new ($) Currency in this age. You just need to use your…

  18. For someone who is an academic, you are so full of hatred for people who hail from Eastern, Luapula, Northern and Muchinga provinces. You seem to fail to understand that without votes from these four provinces, your worshipped Bally would never have become president of Zambia. So, where do you put us that have mixed blood between tongas, bembas and easterners in your assessions? Go and get a life because you are still looking for a job from HH. The lies he used to win the August 12 elections, is slowly coming back to haunt him. Stop underestimating Zambian voters, especially from the four provinces who also live on the Copperbelt, Lusaka and other provinces.

  19. The most sleepy people in Zambian are Tonga’s or Southerners, thats why the Northern & Eastern Base has produced more Presidents (KK was Tumbuka & Mtonga, from Malawi & Eastern Province), (RB is Ngoni), (Lungu is Ngoni), (Sata was Bisa from Mpika & Chinsali), (Chiluba from Luapula)(Levy from Ndola Rural ). I forgot you had the drunkard Late Harry Khumbula.

    Yes, we voted MMD in 2011 because we knew that Sata was a psychopath. We voted for KK in 1990, look what Chiluba did to Zambia. There was no way KK was going to sell the mines via HH. Remember KK cut relations with IMF in 1988. They don’t just call us Wise People From The East. We think through….

  20. Well if eastern province is in Zambia just as southern province is then, people from other provinces should start voting like their friends in southern province, as far as everyone knows that there is no preferred province in this one country and it is one Zambia one nation.
    The values found in southern province must be the only values to be accepted by every other provinces to have a balance.

  21. Voters were disappointed by UPND performance so far: cooking oil still more expensive, Kwacha still depreciating, corruption still rife etc. No results, you lose the race!

  22. Shaka Zulu – Your argument would hold water if people of that area continued voting for MMD even after the passing of Sata as PF was his creation and the one who succeeded him stated that he will continue with his vision. Anyway I tend to keep away from such retrogressive debates about tribes and regions but this is the only thing that seems to be working with PF on the illiterates as they no longer have taxpayers funds.
    Remember we only have one country…although this is good for democracy I would clearly want the void left by PF to taken up by another opposition progressive party but sadly they are fighting amongst themselves.

  23. INDEPENDENT OBSERVER – The videos are on social media HH did not promise those things IMMEDIATELY he walked into State House …c’mon he wouldn’t be careless with his words. He did say the Kwacha will appreciate immediately he was declared the winner. …why do you want to twist his words, WHY is it that you people never watch the full press conferences he does elaborate on this topic?

  24. Tarino Orange 22
    On @ INDEPENDENT OBSERVER. ( This Makaka ). The sooner we take him out, the better. Ok this guy has been lucky to have stockpiled ka $50m he made from Bitcoin. If he loves Zambia so much, he must bring his money and invest it in Zambia. We know he bout 1650 Bitcoins at $15 each coin, then sold them at $30,000 each, just before they went as high as $55,000 each coin. He usually posts investment comments on the website called (ADVFN) a financial markets website. Personally I am tired of his rants every day and I don’t care if he is an investment banker working for Goldman Sack. He can go and f**ck himself.

  25. The writer, albeit his PhD, is a die hard cadre of upnd. He seems to be saying upnd should have won and because they didn’t, he must explain why.
    Bwana, people have realized that Bally lied his way into state house and they are simply reacting.
    Mealie meal K50, Fertilizer K250, Free education, K1,500 across the board for civil servants?
    It’s not rocket science. It’s just as plain as it can be. As we witness more by elections, it will become more clearer to one, SS.

  26. Tarino Orange / 22

    I know this was directed on 22# independent observer, but I have to jump in on this one. Please grow your spine, you turn up at lusakatimes times every day posting tribal vulgar. Tell us then, When is HH going to introduce free education? He did say this clear and cut. He is now dodging the question. The results in Eastern Province are a reminder that people can now see the real HH. He better fasten his belt tight, more rejections will keep coming. As a person who was in Zambia last August and voted for him, I am disappointed how he handled the BBC Interview when he was asked about free education promises. He continues up today failing to answer the question. Dont come here to defend lies. HH lied to the people of Zambia. Its in black and white. By the way, there…

  27. Tarino Orange @@ 21

    You are talking nonsense. Actually my argument is holding water, if I can use your phrases. We realised PF had bad people like Kambwili Chishimba, GBM or Godfrey Bwalya Mwamba and many others who proved to be snakes and corrupt who came back from UPND back to Lungu, and frankly PF & Lungu dug its own grave. So you see, WE THOUGHT THROUGH. Then decided to give HH a chance to see what he can offer. The we realised HH lied about Free Education. The People of Eastern Province said. Is that so? Guess what? They sent a STRONG MESSAGE to HH and rejected his UPND Candidate. Again, they don’t just call us WISE MEN FROM THE EAST … for nothing, WE THINK THROUGH. You get my drift !!

  28. Ben Siyakalima – If you have been on LT long enough you will realise that my alias has been cloned look through you will see different images which I
    am constantly changing…you look around at who is based in the UK and suddenly stopped posting his tribal nonsense. Resident Bloggers know all to well that my account has been hijacked I have complained to LT but the usual response is they can not do anything about it….my suggestion now is its high time they introduced a platform that lets us only comment with social media contacts.
    Its not easy to build a profile on the platform only to be destroyed in one post by a clone through slander who has nothing better to do than troll and hack in even when blocked.

  29. Shaka Zulu – Who is we…BUFFOON CK, GBM and co have not left the party they are still around in PF spewing tribal nonsense. How do you expect HH to provide free education just like that with PF budget that was giving away free money, was corrupt to the core and very reckless. Did you not hear HH say it was a gradual process, people who voted for him understand this not you and fellow PF thieves who fattened themselves with taxpayers funds. You are there in US talking about we want free education for my children…really laughable…you are no different to the likes of Kampyongo who has his kids in private schools and he is busy talking about free education.

  30. This thing about tribal talk coming from an educated person is very disappointing and retrogressive to say the least. In your observation SS UPND should have won but because of tribal campaign amid other reason’s the lost. Wait a minute was kaumbwe the only place where elections were conducted? What about other places where UPND won? did it occur to you that UPND used the same allegedly tribal campaign ? and why single out only areas where PF won? oooh so its okay for UPND to win in Southern, North western and Western provinces and no questions should be asked about if there was financial support, material support or other matters that made UPND to win? It just automatic but only question where and why PF has won elections in Kaumbwe?
    This kind of analysis is shallow and can be a…

  31. 25 Zambia Today – It must be hurting you so bad that you have insulted INDEPENDENT OBSERVER so many times, trying to pick up a fight with him, yet he just never replies to your sick attacks, he choses to rise above. I think you really need help and counselling. Your jealousy will send you, either to the grave or mental hospital. We all Zambians and we must wish others good things to come to them. This is really sad.

  32. It is immoral for HH and UPND to go and campaign in Eastern province for a vote when HH knows that they have harmed ECL in southern province by giving him nothing, including an MP.
    The voting in southern province is shameful and total witchcraft not to be intertained in a civilised society and democratic Zambia.
    What these people do will haunt them for generations to come , this must be the last time allow them in state house they a rotten bunch.

  33. If you check the presidential vote count as at 12 August, PF got 10, 728 while UPND got 3,773. So it is not strange that the election went the way of PF. Do not bring in dreamt theories of what UPND has done or not done since coming into office.

  34. Kayombo – You are spot on…he expects a paradigm shift of 7000 votes to UPND in rural Zambia with a space of 8 weeks.

  35. #39 Just a few months of MMD rule people started to miss Unip. FTJ got scared and put in clauses in our constitution that barred Dr Kaunda from standing in the presidential elections. Don’t be surprised by the length of time people can change their minds. My nephew is one of those people.

  36. Deja Vu – when MMD took over from UNIP the economy was on its knees and MMD had to make alot of needed actions like closing down loss making Parasutals on its books leading to mass unemployment.
    Why is it that people don’t read their history? Is it laziness

  37. #43 You see the problem with you is you don’t want to understand how the man on the streets thinks or feels… yes the economy was down on its knees… but when MMD increased the price of mealie meal from six Kwacha to twenty Kwacha with a view of controlling smuggling, the common man didn’t like it, next was the retrenchment of workers in the mining industry with the view to rationalize operations… the common didn’t see it that way. Just wait for the cost of essentials going up then you will understand what I am talking about.

  38. It’s interesting how the same stinking tribally bigoted bandits whose silence was deafening when GBM, Kambwili, Dorah and Lungu went on their Tonga bashing charade are now saying we should move on and forget! Fxxk you!

  39. The colonialists made a mistake by drawing borders the way they did. They should have based on language spoken lines maybe we live happily ever after.

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