Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A contentious comeback

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By Nkonkomalimba Kafunda

As was expected, on Saturday October 28 Zambia’s 5th President Edgar Lungu announced his much anticipated return to active politics, fittingly, at the memorial service of his mentor and predecessor at State House, Michael Sata. ostensibly to save the Patriotic Front from obliteration after the humbling August 2021 electoral defeat at the hands of the United Party for National Development.

The party formed on the eve of the December 2001 general election after Mr. Sata was snubbed by 2nd President Frederick Chiluba when he anointed Levy Mwanawasa as his successor, is in fractious turmoil after its suspended Matero member of Parliament Miles Sampa convened a general conference at which he was elected President. PF Vice President Given Lubinda immediately called Mr. Sampa a stooge and openly accused President Hakainde Hichilema of sponsoring Mr. Sampa, an accusation vehemently denied by Chief Government Spokesman Cornelius Mweetwa.

While it was generally expected that the UPND as a government would be morally and ethically superior to their more nefarious predecessors, the orchestrated sinister machinations to discombobulate the PF has put paid to that lofty notion. The PF is painfully aware that there is a not so invisible, but no less powerful, hand playing the role of puppeteer to that of Mr. Sampa’s puppet.

It would be ludicrously naïve to believe that Mr. Sampa could organize a general conference complete with delegates, ballot boxes and returning officers along with a heavy protective police presence, unaided financially and materially.

Predictably, despite having only a wafer thin window of deniability, what with an incriminating video doing social media rounds, Mr. Mweetwa went ahead, insisting the troubles in the PF were of the PF’s own making. Granted, he was only doing his job which frequently entails politically necessary economy on truth.

At an October 6 Presser, held to counter Mumbi Phiri’s complaints, comments, criticisms and lack of compliments, minutes after the PF supporter’s appearance on Radio Phoenix, Mr. Mweetwa, with more clarity than wisdom, said it would not be in national interest to prosecute Mr. Lungu even though government would be able to get the numbers required to lift his immunity due to the disturbances in the PF both at the secretariat and in parliament, lending credence to speculation that the UPND had a clandestine hand in the PF civil war.

Nonetheless, there has been a gradual but steady decline in public opinion of the new deal administration. A consortium of respected Civil Society Organizations on October 25, raised concern over the shrinking democratic and civic space in the country. Freedoms of expression, assembly and association, they noted with anxiety, are under perilous threat.

This has brought to the fore the very worrying flexibility of principle exhibited by the UPND since they assumed office. Progressive legislation such as the Access to Information and the Public Gatherings Acts are seemingly on ice. Home affairs minister Jack Mwiimbu has been using the much vilified and despised {while in opposition) Public Order Act to justify police brutality and the trampling on the rights of varied groupings to assemble, protest or publicly voice dissent.

Mr. Lungu’s return coincides with a post election campaign promises crisis of expectation triggered by crippling poverty (60%) and skyrocketing cost of living which has put the UPND in the unenviable position of praying that their economic transformation agenda bears fruit in the short term, a dilemma faced by leaders who are subjected to regular, free and fair elections the world over.

The much touted debt restructuring only benefits the creditors who are now assured their money will be paid, says opposition Economic Front leader Wynter Kabimba. The accompanying IMMF bailout and world Bank concessional loans have had no tangible, positive effect on the masses. Many feel they were better off before the change of government.

Food and fuel prices are upwardly unstable. Inflation is back in double digits while the Kwacha’s volatility against major currencies is akin to a pendulum.

These indices are the canary in a coal mine.

Meanwhile, confusion continues to reign in the all-important mining sector. Amidst pomp, splendor, jubilation and jollification the nation was informed on September 5th that a deal had been sealed to return Konkola Copper Mines to the Indian investor Vandeta with fresh investment of US$ 1 billion, US$250m to pay suppliers’ outstanding arrears and US$20 million pay autumn for community projects on top of a one off cash payment of K2500 per employee across the board. As it turned out, the mines minister was forced to eat humble pie in parliament when he admitted that no concrete agreement had been reached after contractors and suppliers suspended their services for non payment of invoices. In essence Mr Kabuswe whilst acting with other known persons willingly misled the nation with intentions best known to himself, ZCCM IH and Vedanta.

Things are no better at Mopani where the secretive investor remains an enigma. The people are far from happy.

The crux of the matter is the not unjustified perception that those in leadership, their friends and relatives are not bearing the brunt of the struggling economy in equal measure, so they couldn’t care less about the people’s welfare.

The non inclusive nature of this government has not gone unnoticed. Appointments to top jobs are a particular borne of contention. The ‘tribal’ appointments are ‘a source of great embarrassment event to people associated to the bantu botatwe like myself’ says Mr. Kabimba.

Pundits like political scientists Alex Ngoma insist that the UPND need not worry as long as they deliver to the people’s expectations. As if on cue government announced the sale of eagle brand mealie meal from Zmbia National Services at K230 and K190 for breakfast and roller, respectively. Surprisingly, the opposition have kept their powder dry on the sustainability of this enterprise which some estimates suggest can only meet less than ten percent of national demand.

Another intervention seems to be in the current fuel price mechanism were the president instructed the new permanent secretary at energy to interrogate the system and come up with something more acceptable.

Though Mr. Lungu has indicated that he is only back to stabilize the party and, by extension, preserve the country’s democracy before handing the party presidency to whoever will be elected at the convention of 2026, he has in the past intimated his ambitions to hand over power to himself.

In the end, how the UPND handle the comeback will determine whether or not President Hichilema will have the unflattering distinction of having his predecessor become his successor.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Please someone help Kaizar Zulu. He is sick. Better still Red Brick find him and treat him. Surely you can’t fail. He has advanced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). People like him become terrorists like Mushala and cause havoc. The more he comments on this outlet, the more mad he becomes. This is no joke!

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  2. ECL has every right to come back, his rights to come back must not be trampled on if his party is agreeable. I hear people say he should be a statesman, you don’t force somebody to be a statesman. We managed to navigate Zambia without a statesman with our first President. In any case if we want a statesman we can always borrow the Obasanjos who are readily available. I will not vote for ECL but being a real democrat I will not condemn his come back.

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    • What come back, Lungu has been appointing office barriers while campaign through jogging and in church’s. When will Lungu stop being deceitful? From defraud a vulnerable woman and, now obtaining goods and services by force pretence under the guise of ” retirement.” Let’s protest in mass to get back everything he ways fraudulently paid. Now we hear there is a shortage of okwa bags.

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    • An opposition political party can never be for the ruling party as it is with PF2. Miles isn’t ideal to lead PF because he enjoys massive support not from general membership, but UPND top brass. An opposition is a government in waiting. Miles has nothing to oppose his masters for and is certainly making the political opposition meaningless. He do not mean well. If Miles was not sponsored and funded by the State, I would have no problems welcoming his sham grouping.

    • For the first time as an independent minded Zambian, I have listened to a very level headed person. This personal hatred has gone too far. Let the man stand as democracy entails and let the people who voted and rejected him decide. Not a few tinpot politicians growing pot belies so fast and doing exactly what they were against to hood whink Zambians to vote for them. If you expect everyone to jump for you even when we know things are not okay for the majority of ordinary Zambians, then go and stay on planet Saturn.

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  3. The die-hards of pf shall indeed die like a tick stuck to a dead body… the author of this article included. the whole pf is full of selfish pipo and no democracy at all. They hv shared positions among themselves without being elected by mbrs.hw can yo lungu just cme back and impose himself as president hw..total rubbish….u ar slowly taking yosef to the dustbin.its not hw u feel about yosef bt hw pipo see u. Pf u ar jst dunderheads and gvt parasites..moveon start rearing chickens

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  4. I also know that Lungu has massive support in the PF structures country wide while Sampa has none, looking at the quality of delegates to his convention, even his own constituency Matero has disowned him, PF has a more realistic chance of performing well at national elections with ECL than with miles. But I am not PF, I am just an objective observer.

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  5. “As was expected, on Saturday October 28 Zambia’s 5th President Edgar Lungu..”

    SORRY, MR. KAFUNDA, ZAMBIA’S FIFTH PRESIDENT HAS NEVER BEEN ECL, BUT SATA.

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  6. When the taps run dry it’s hard to bear the crunch. keep on misleading yosef, bwana author. no more govt cash flowing to pf cadres. you are so blind to the fact that theres no democracy at all in pf. and u think pipo are not watching how mischeivous u ar. that why you were beaten by more than 1million votes bcoz you dont see reality but you see yo own wishes.

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  7. Let them keep their crumbs. Our democracy is worth more than any amount of money. I can fund ecls comeback just using one of my many businesses

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  8. While the article is of no scholarly nature, it, still deserving a comment. The author seems to associate Edgar comeback with socio-economic challenges. Such a suggestion has no useful marketplace. Edgar spent 7 years rehearsing for presidency. What a missed opportunity! I emphasize unconditionally, “missed”.
    The Sampa PF are now focused on developing strategies for mass recruitment of new membership, and targets 9 million members with cards in 5 years. At the end of 10 year HH tenure, Sampa has instruments of Power.

    ‘walya mudodoma, beniza boys”

  9. Ba Nkonkomalimba Kafunda and other political commentators please stop politicizing mealie meal nshima and fuel prices. I was born and grew up under KK’s UNIP. In the late 80s when people got fed up with Kaunda mealie meal was 32 kwacha ( obselete kwacha) not rebased. Knock out three zeros that would make the cost of a 50 kg bag of breakfast mealie meal and 3 ngwee in the rebased currency. How many Presidents and governments have we changed since 1991? And you want to confuse poor people that if they changed government then nshima will cost less! Let the poor people go out there and work hard to feed their families instead of fooling them that politicians will put food on their tables. Utter foolishness and callous utopia like the christian nation hypocrisy/money making scam

  10. With his comeback even those who were doubting upnd have decided to rejoin the fight once again to bury him for good. This might actually be a blessings for upnd and the beginning of total destruction for PF.

  11. Kaizar Zulu definately has mental health problem and needs to see a psychiatrist. All comments he make are so childish, Im sure his children must be more sensible than him. Its such a shame

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