By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a (Political/Social Analyst)
During the recently held by-elections in selected parts of the country, the Patriotic Front could only manage to salvage 2 seats out of 22, while the rest of the opposition political parties which were brave enough to join the fray amassed zero! What do we make of this?
Well, like a reckless driver who defies all the odds, and miraculously emerges from the wreckage of a grisly fatal accident, totally unscathed and goes on to have fun on the road again; the August 2021 general elections didn’t leave the former ruling party ‘comatose,’ desperately gasping for survival on some sort of life support mechanism save for the initial shock of suffering defeat. You see them grumpy and still complaining that the elections were rigged and that they can wallop UPND if the elections were called today!
With over 60 parliamentary seats to their name and their resources probably still intact, PF poses a significant threat to UPND’s hold on power than the likes of Kelvin Bwalya Fube, Fred M’membe, Harry Kalaba or Sean Tembo and Saboi Imboela, who both have a knack for coming out crude and combative, put together! As the Bembas say, “Chimbwi pakulila, ninshi naishiba epo ashintilile (When a hyena to howls, there’s a reason for doing so.)” This exactly applies to PF; who are convinced that they can bounce back to power as early as 2026.
When MMD wrestled power from UNIP in 1991………through the ballot, of course; the former didn’t waste time hauling, and hurling the heroes of our liberation struggle into the lake of fire! Everything panned out so fast and furious – government vehicles were savagely grabbed from former ministers at gun point; their homes were frisked in the middle of the night while others were evicted from government houses wee of the day and dumped on the streets. Those serving in foreign missions weren’t spared either – they were given 24 hours to report back home and henceforth, condemned to a life of misery on the streets! And as if to further add salt to injury, their Bank accounts were instantly frozen while their businesses were crippled to make it impossible for them to mobilize resources and possibly fight back!
Since the incoming government didn’t find anything incriminating against the UNIP leaders as most of them were arguably humble and decent human beings who didn’t relish dipping their hands into the treasury unlike most of the leaders of our present times, the state had to concoct some sort of clandestine plots to find an excuse to send them to jail, hence the infamous – ZERO Option Plan and Black Mamba. The narrative the state fed to the public was that the former ruling party was hellbent on sponsoring covert operations such as planting bombs or gutting public infrastructure to make the country ungovernable so that they can sneak back to power through the back door! As expected, a number of individuals would be effectively rounded-up and detained, indefinitely. It was just a matter of time before this ‘poison’ would take effect and dispatch UNIP to the grave, prematurely.
Fast forward 2011; Sata’s PF deposed MMD from power. In a case of history repeating itself, the Patriotic Front went full throttle destabilizing MMD. Using the state machinery – the combined mighty of Zambia Police, DEC, OP, ZRA and Immigration, hundreds of campaign vehicles were confiscated from MMD, cooked up charges were slapped on them and they were sent to Chimbokaila or Mukobeko while their businesses crushed. Curiously, several factions would sprout up from within the party. While the other political parties were busy mobilizing despite the hostile environment, it was a ‘court season’ for the MMD – it was one court case after another as several individuals dragged each other to court for one reason or another.