Saturday, June 15, 2024

Would HH concede electoral defeat in 2026?


By Chimwemwe Mwanza

Bamushanina bwali (praise singers) tulefulilakofye which is why the pool of critical minds capable of providing decent checks and balances to the incumbent government is shrinking – at an alarming rate for that matter. Could this be the reason why amidst this paucity in political discourse, the gist of a critical electronic posting (was it on twitter or X) by a hip shooting academic almost got drowned in infantile noises.

‘Lungu might help HH to peacefully concede defeat,’ – is one of the recent postings by Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa that has caused some consternation across the political aisle. Justifying his argument in the write up, he chronicled roles played by former Heads of State, from KK to Rupiah Banda – in resolving electoral disputes. Delving deeper, the apt summation of this write up infers that Lungu is unlikely to stand in the next elections but could however play the role of an arbiter in the event that President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) loses but refuses to concede.

Ghastly as it seems for the UPND faithful to fathom such a reality, this tweet implicitly entertains the prospect of HH losing the next Polls. You see, politics is habitually allergic to crystal balls. In any case ours is a constitutional democracy, we shouldn’t stifle free thinking. Hence this question, would HH concede if he lost? Let’s ignore the answer for now, I’m already fashioning expletives raining down on me for having a brain, the size of a bean pole. Ni mbanje ya bwanji yamene abema uyu mufana, Hakainde ku luza sure – loosely translated as, what type of weed is this lad inhaling to contemplate such a possibility?

Pitfalls of overconfidence

Borrowing a famous idiomatic expression coined by former British Premier Harold Wilson, a week is indeed a long time in politics – besides the Polls are almost 2 and half years away. That said, it’s thus implausible to give an outright prediction of who will win the next elections. Need we remind those that have forgotten the disappointment that characterised the over-confident cheer leaders of this chant, ‘Alebwelelapo pamupando’. Sarcastic as it reads, the President has crafted a better response for nay sayers seeking to defy political gravity. Natwikalapo, alebwelelapo pamupando wisa?
Naivety is rife in our body politic which is why disbelief tears and loud wailing shrouded the aftermath of the August 2021 Polls. It took statesmen, Bai Koroma, Jakaya Kikwete and Rupiah Banda to convince a crestfallen Edgar Lungu to concede. This is the nature of a beast called politics. Further afield in the land of the free which also boasts one of the world’s oldest democracies, the mop haired one still refuses to concede to Joseph Biden who trumped him at the polls – three years after he grudgingly left the White House for the quieter confines of Mara Largo in Florida.
Aside from the view that the UPND is the front runner – at least granted the fragmented opposition, it is only rational for other people to hold a different opinion. Lest we meander off this discussion, the gist is not to ascertain the UPND’s electoral prospects but determine whether HH has the magnanimity or temperament to accept defeat in the event that Zambians reject him in 2026. Back to the question, would he concede and quietly vacate the Presidency?

Travesty of Justice

Let’s take a step back. It took him five failed attempts to wrest the Presidency eventually succeeding on his sixth shot, a rare mark of resilience – Albert Einstein certainly has living equals. On his 5th attempt in 2016, he lost by a whisker – prompting him to seek redress from courts for what he claimed were electoral malpractices by the former governing party.

Did the court find merit in his claim? The Constitutional Court regrettably dismissed his petition on a technicality – this without hearing his argument. This judgement was a travesty of Justice, a blatant disregard of the law. In her own words, quote verbatim, Justice Hilda Chibomba admitted as much. ‘It is a painful decision for the court to take to dismiss the case without hearing the evidence, but there is nothing the court could have done considering the time limit provided to conclude the petition,’ reads a part of her judgement.

It’s HH’s response though to this judgement that provides us a glimpse of his ability to stretch his fight for his rights. ‘I never thought one day we will have a situation where an election petition will be dismissed without hearing evidence from the parties. Our position is that we came to this court to seek justice, but it has been denied to us by this court. And as such, we have not conceded in the just-ended Presidential election where the Patriotic Front was declared winner,’ he remarked. This was vintage HH in opposition then, steadfast, principled but defiant to the bitter end.

Would he concede?

Could a successful conclusion of his petition have swayed his mind – assuming the Judgement went against his party? Only he knows the answer. However, few would disagree that he never recognised the Lungu Presidency. In his eyes, the PF were an illegitimate government that had robbed him the most prized possession in Zambian politics. While he has brought decorum to the Presidency the HH who is stubbornly ensconced at Community House – to the chagrin of many is a vastly transformed politician to the one that was criss-crossing the country begging for votes ahead of the 2021 Polls.

History has a way of repeating itself. How ironic that once in power, his party has been able to easily bend laws purely for self-serving interests. Case in point – the UPND twisted the interpretation of a ruling by the same Constitutional Court – which by the way in 2016, declined to hear their petition to steal the Kwacha and Kabushi Parliamentary seats from the opposition. Then out went the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lillian Siyunyi. Never mind her transgressions, she too like the President has rights yet she was never accorded the opportunity to defend herself against a slew of charges laid before her – instead she was dealt a cold hand and left to hang in the court of public opinion.

HH has now tested power and he is using it to maximum effect. Is he using his position to entrench democratic tenets? You see, any politician that has scanty regard for the judiciary or rule of law is a danger to democracy. As the saying goes, a democracy where lies have replaced truth, where truth is illusive and where truth is secondary in the conduct of government business with no means of accessing or ability to question, dies in the end.
Would he concede?

About the Author: Mwanza enjoys reading Political History and Philosophy. Conversations with famous politicians takes you down memory lane, beautiful read for a translantic flight. * Amos – Nanga volume 2. For feedback, email [email protected]


  1. HH can easily lose the elections……..

    But the man we know has not got a dishonest bone in his body …….as he says of himself.

    HH would greatfully handover power without batting an eyelid……….

    And those who think he will not concede power for fear of persecution……….

    There is nothing he can be prosecuted for……….he navigated 20 years in opposition, 10 pitted against the most hostile opposition, the PF , yet nothing could be found against him.

  2. At the rate things are going, I don’t see HH easily giving up power.
    Already he has replaced Constitutional Court with people affiliated to the party who for all intents and purposes don’t qualify to be constitutional Court judges like Mr Arnold sichilima the deputy president.
    Secondly, we have an open cadre as Chairperson of the ECZ with his deputy who is a bonafide Member of the UPND.
    We saw how the President was acting in contravention of law during the Kabushi and Kwacha by elections.
    Woe to anyone who believes this man would easily accept a defeat. The US would even support his stay if he were to lose so as to secure their financial and military interests.
    Alas, let’s see how things unfold in the next three years, so far it’s been a disappointment start.

    • Badala……..

      The USA only supports dictators of countries in critically important geopolitical locations……….

      And zambia is not one of them.

      That is why zambia was ignored by the west for the past 20 or 30 years snd left to wallow in poverty.

      Zambia is only a side station for the west and the USA or rather somewhere to rub China the wrong way.

    • Auntie Spaka, the US supported Mobutu in neighboring DRC, they equally supported Jonas Savimbi a rebel in neighboring Angola. More recently, the current President of DRC didn’t win the election as confirmed by many observers but the USA still installed him for geopolitical and financial reasons. HH is bowing to their every demand and has given them a military office in the region.
      He is the perfect pawn for US interests in the region and they won’t let him go that easily IF he were to lose and refuse to give up power.

    • Uncle spider…….

      Mobutu and Angolan US support was during the cold War. There is a difference between the cold War era and now.

      DRC has been ungoverened for decades and needs a goverment in place. how can you expect a cleanly elected government in a country that has been ungovernable for decades ??? That does not even have polling infrastructure ??

      I commend the Americans for supporting some semblance of a government in DRC if only to start the process of democracy and development.

  3. Concede defeat? That’d be the very first time in his political career. He has never accepted results of any election and includes the one he won. He caused his Party to petition all seats that they lost to the PF. He’s held the same position even when he was a distant loser to LPM and MCS in 2006, to RB and MCS in 2008 and to MCS and RB on 2011. 2026 will be a very difficult transition because according to him and his praise singers they’ve won by a landslide yet he’s losing grip everyday and it doesn’t seem to bother him. Let’s brace for difficult times ahead

    • LOL, third position and the man claims elections were rigged.
      Its wild out there.
      About UPND losing popularity daily, the author has put it very clearly that those who support UPND policies now seem insane and unpatriotic.

    • UPND has been losing popularity only with the PF theives and the clique supporters………..

      Hard working Zambians can see the progress he is making and understand it is not always about Nishima.

  4. I don’t think we have serious opposition in Zambia to challenge HH in 2026….conceding defeat to who??? thats the question we should be asking ourselves….PF is dead…MMD is dead and buried…NDC is non existence….we need a new Political party with youthful new faces not old Bandits from PF…..UPND is not a very strong party and its operating just like PF……

  5. The guy will declare a state of emergency as soon as he sees he’s losing. There are too many loopholes in our constitution. He just pick one and use it as an excuse to discontinue the counting of ballots.

  6. I want to raise awareness on this topic. Please copy and share on your social media.
    The proposed amendment to the Public Procurement Act of 2010 seeks to remove section 89 which provides for 20 percent shareholding of publicly procured works to have Zambian citizenship. The UPND will remove that section and only allow public companies to wholly get services and products from foreign companies.
    Raise awareness!

  7. The fact remains……….

    HH would definitely concede defeat if he lost the elections. If only to cement his legacy as a democrate.

    But it is Highley unlikely that he will lose.

    Highley unlikely. So all your wild imaginations can be put on hold until 2031.

    Forward 2031.

    And God willing, beyond 2031 with UPND.

  8. Should we be talking about 2026 here when there are a million much more important things we can be talking about.

  9. People always have problem with people who do things by book.
    They love criminals and ululate them so much.
    This time, no one can cheat a Zambian.
    And for the first time in the history of Zambian independence and the reason is simple; the person who paid for something will always care for that something.
    And the opposite is true that a person who did not pay for something, will not care for that something.
    Our Zambian politics today has been blessed because we have a true son of our 1964 independence.

  10. This is like jumping the gun. Discussing something which is impossible at the moment with a fragmented opposition and no clear challenger.

  11. I fail to see how HH will lose the 2026 elections. He is a popular leader and has found great admiration amongst the people.

  12. Am not sure if we have statistics of comparison of popularity ratings of Lungu and Hichilema for the same period in power. The rough indications on the ground seem to suggest that Hakainde is rated far behind Lungu. If what is obtaining on the ground now is anything to go by then Hakainde needs to start preparing state house documents for transfer from his house to state house.

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