By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
In an article which has since been accorded generous acclamation by the usual suspects……the tabloids, and of course snaked its way on several social media platforms; Cape Town based scholar and don, Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa, claims that President Hakainde Hichilema is desperate for a second term in office 3 years before the country heads back to the polls, and hence has churned-out a 5 point plan to achieve the objective. We find such assertions ludicrous and laughable!
This article shall seek to debunk this myth on a point-by-point basis. First and foremost, every politician is obviously pregnant with grand ambitions. Unless their brain is somewhat comatose, a councillor aspires to go parliament so that they can access a sleek SUV and enjoy the gratuity after their term expires; an MP desires to be cabinet minister so that they can be chauffeured around, flag flapping on their limousine while a leader of any political party yearns for a possible move into Plot 1 Independence Avenue so that they can leave a legacy……well, if at all those are their real intentions.
What’s wrong with a politician who has had half the bite of their term start planning for a second term, well ahead of time? Zero! For God’s sake, we’re talking about humans here and not goats!
1) Contain the Catholic Church
Sishuwa suggests that the first step of the so-called plan involves containing the activities of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long played an important role in consolidating democracy in Zambia. This can’t be furthest from the truth! Not so long ago, UPND party spokesman Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa called for a cease-fire in the ensuing ‘war of words’ between government and the Catholic church. He further reiterated that government is ready for dialogue with the church. It’s therefore wrong to assume that government is at loggerheads with the mainstream Catholic church……It’s actually just a few priests that don’t seem to see anything good in whatever the current administration is trying to do to improve the welfare of our people. Understandably so, the said priests enjoyed a cosy relationship with the previous regime to the point of campaigning for them at the pulpit. Do we honestly expect such individuals to have any kind words for the president and his government? The priests in question haven’t been providing any guidance to those in government perse, but have rather been playing politics at the pulpit for ulterior motives.
2) Co-opt influential elites from civil society
The Doc further claims that the second element of the plan involves capturing influential elites from Zambia’s civil society, which has served as a check on power since the early-2000s. Really? What’s wrong with rewarding activists such as Pilato or Mwape with key government positions for the role they played in removing a brutal regime from power……after all, it’s not a forcing matter! President Sata equally did the same in 2011 when he went out of the way rewarding a number of prominent individuals from Civil society and both the electronic and print media with lavish appointments in government and indeed the diplomatic service!
3) Capture the electoral body and pack the courts
Sishuwa says the third element involves the capture of two formal institutions that are critical to the management of elections: the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the judiciary.
Where on earth is Chitulika constituency whose results one chairman of ECZ availed to the expectant masses as the nation awaited with abated breath as to who would carry the day in the crucial elections of 2016? What about a deputy chairwoman that became emotional and almost shed tears when ECZ was challenged by ‘Mazembe’ over their machinations to help rig the last elections? Mind you, the presidential election petition in the 2016 elections was not heard for obvious reasons. Would the respected scholar still insist the two institutions didn’t deserve a radical shake up when evidence of impropriety abounds?
4) Weaken opposition parties
Sishuwa identifies the Patriotic Front and the Socialist Party as two formidable political rivals that UPND is targeting for obliteration. He gives 2 reasons: whereas an uncertain economic outlook and an incumbent seen as promoting ethnic-regional appointments have left the PF confident of regaining power, the SP is slowly coming to be seen as a viable alternative after winning a string of ward by-elections in recent months. We don’t know if we are still sharing the same planet as the academician. The last time we checked, certain ethinic groupings were shamelessly sidelined for any positions in government! We shall soon be revisiting this subject to put the prophets of doom in their places. Anyway, for the first time in a long time, cabinet represents a complete national character. Not only this, all the tribes are being deployed abroad as diplomats including Christine Kaseba Sata who has strong ties with PF! Where’s the promotion of ethnic-regional appointments by UPND?
Talking about our plummeting economy, who pushed us into the quagmire? Wasn’t Lungu and his cohorts due to their grandiose appetite for senseless borrowing and careless expenditure? Hakainde has since restored fiscal discipline in the public sector and people are already enjoying the benefits – there’s free education from grades 1 to 12; students’ allowances for our university students have been reintroduced; bursaries are being determined locally as opposed to some ‘elites’ sitting in some air-conditioned offices in Lusaka; citizens have long claimed back their ZNPF and now enjoying their NAPSA etc.
Talking about SP winning by elections, can the Doc be kind enough to explain where exactly this has been happening and when? To our knowledge, it is the ruling party that scooped all the local government seats in the recently held by-elections! As things stand, we are yet to detect ‘ichimwela’ or enthusiasm amongst the youth in favour of Fred M’membe’s political experiment. Socialism doesn’t appeal to our people, maybe 100 years from now!
5) Cover corruption tracks
Sishuwa observes that the final element of the re-election strategy involves hiding corruption, and further asserts that it is likely that the president fears that if a minister is arrested for corruption, they may expose their colleague’s graft, defect to the opposition, and undermine the bid for a second term. This can’t even hold a single drop of water! If at all there’s someone who is allergic to corruption, it is this president. Isn’t there a widely circulated rumour that Hichilema had his own brother or cousin arrested for stealing his cattle? How do you expect such a person to ignore the corruption on the part of government officials when he allow his kith and kin to be disciplined by the law? Already, we have seen permanent secretaries and other senior government officials being fired for alleged corrupt activities. Ask any cabinet minister, permanent secretaries, defense chiefs or even the district commissioners, they’d confess to you the ‘Church elder’ is a disciplinarian who would have no qualms about feeding any of them to ACC if they ever engaged in corruption.
Be rest assured, the president isn’t having any sleepless nights over the 2026 general elections. His focus for now is delivering to the great expectations of our people – they are the final arbiters and not some intellectuals or political scientists sitting in ‘ma yard” in Kabulonga completely dislocated from the reality on the ground. Consider the way he’s being applauded by our citizens for increasing CDF, including some progressive MPs from PF……ala Bally, wakuleka fye!