By Kapya Kaoma
Bally’s victory of 2.8 million votes in the 2021 elections was big. Since then, Bally worshipers have weaponized his 2.8 million votes to silence their opponents. Yet 2.8 million is useless–how people voted in 2021, and how they feel today is different. Minus 9.02% is what we should be talking about. If HH got 47.63% and Lungu got 50.35% in 2016, where did he get +12.02% in 2021? Eastern, Northern, Luapula and Muchinga Provinces are the answers. His votes in Southern Province remained unchanged as in the previous election between 97 to 99.9 %. No doubt Lungu lost, but in reality HH only added 12.02% to his 47% in 2016. Since the Constitution demands 50+1, should HH bleed 9.03% of the total vote in 2026, he will no longer be President. Is this impossible?
As things stand, like mist, Bally’s popularity is evaporating at an alarming rate.Many are the sacred hearts that his baby administration has shattered. As in the 1990s (during the Chiluba regime when the masses cried for the return of Kaunda), HH has turned Lungu into a saint. The promised “Manna,” jobs, standard of living, cheap fuel and lower costs of basic things have not rained. As for human rights and fight against corruption, HH’s dementia is puzzling. So those who cast a trial vote for HH, today in shame they dwell. In the Bally universe, however, the myth is that 2.8 million votes of 2021 are perpetually locked in for the 2026 elections. The truth is, HH has only locked in less than 47% of the total vote. Unlike other parties, his ethnic strongholds will always vote for him almost 100% even if Jesus was to run. This is what makes him very competitive regardless of how chaotic his dark regime may turn out to be. All the UPND needs is 3+1% to return Plot One.
But it could also be problematic should Luapula, Northern, Muchinga, and Eastern Provinces increase turnout and vote for the opposition. Worse still, should the Opposition unite against HH in 2026, the rage of “losers,” ethnic pride, and disappointment of the HH Presidency can force a higher voter turnout in 2026 than in 2021 in opposition strongholds should they have a candidate of choice.
Besides in 2026, Fred M’membe will be in play. The mythology of 2.8 million ignores the fact that Zambians didn’t vote for any opposition party aside from the UPND. Now many of those who voted for HH (9.02 percent) feel conned. Many may give their votes to M’membe if they are not happy with the PF–something we saw in Kamwala were opposition candidates got more votes combined than the UPND despite HH campaigning there three times. If M’membe gets above 6% of the total votes, this would change things for HH. His only prayer is that the PF dies; but if it unites, and manages to improve turnout in its strongholds by 5 – 10%, the HH Presidency dies.
For HH to survive, he has to ensure that the Opposition remains disorganized. One way is to buy PF MPs. Who doesn’t know that the politicians are all about common interests as opposed to integrity? Even then, the chances of this working in Cities is likely but not in PF dominated territories. Moreover, the more he sings “tribalism” the better; he triggers the tribal or ethnic subconsciousness among Zambians. Yes. He may claim to UNITE Zambia in his Ballyuniverse, but ethnicity is real. Bembas may be called names, but ethinic identity is thicker than his worshipers think. Ethnic pride is real, and the more HH lies about tribalism when he is a sole beneficiary of it only incenses other tribes. It surely works in his strongholds, but it is another mountain to climb among other tribes.
Further HH’s public image is already negatively defined–he is untrustworthy, vindictive and bathes into moral turpitude and tribal politics. Aside from his worshipers, HH must erase this image before the 2026 elections. One can only pray HH will continue to assure Zambians that he is the Messiah to their bread and butter despite their empty bellies. But as the economy bites, it is unlikely that his 2021 lies will still work in 2026. Only an intelligent cadre can believe Zambians have no memory!