There is a possibility of an opposition party taking over power, says Simutanyi

THERE is nothing eastern in the character of President Edgar Lungu; the way he speaks, the character of CB is in this man, says UNZA lecturer Dr Ferdinand Chipindi.

And Dr Neo Simutanyi, the Centre for Policy Dialogue director, says the results of the 2016 general elections suggest that there is a possibility of an opposition party taking over power.

In his lecture dubbed “One Zambia, seventy three nations: Troubling the credibility of Tribe and a cultural category”, Dr Chipindi of UNZA’s School of Education said Zambia needs to rethink the constitutional requirement of one’s national registration card.

“An NRC is simply an updated version of the past version of the Chitupa…it is used as a mark of citizenship and yet it is shrouded in these problematic realms. What the NRC does is that it imprisons the identity of a person by situating a person in some location of some homeland of which someone have never might been,” he said.

“For instance, I can use the example of the President. President Edgar Lungu is said to be an Easterner and yet when I look at him very closely, I don’t see anything easterner about him. Born and probably raised on the CB (Copperbelt), the character of CB is reflected in this man; how he speaks, how (watch yourself, Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika jokingly interjects amid laughter)…. However, he is unable to escape the imprisonment of Eastern Province. There is something fundamentally flawed behind the constitution of citizenship,” Dr Chipindi said.
He added that given the contemporary shifts of people and ideas, Zambians could no longer be expected to be nothing but villagers.

“So we have to think about it in a contemporary landscape where there are cross-cutting issues, cutting into each other, regardless of tribe and where people produce culture by being situated in a space which they share with others,” said Dr Chipindi.

Dr Simutanyi said Zambians have turned the country into a two-party state of UPND and PF.
“If we look at the 2015 and the 2016 national elections, we see that the two party system emerged…there is North-Eastern and North-Western block. Can this be explained using ethnicity? Does this suggest that PF is tribal? Does it suggest that UPND is tribal? But despite the fact that the electoral voting behaviour of Zambians produced this kind of configuration, UPND is still described as tribal party,” he said.

Dr Simutanyi said the PF campaign against the UPND was that it was a party for Tongas, not for Lozis, not for Lundas or Luvales which is a puzzle of how this was arrived at considering that the opposition got a lot of votes from Western and North-Western provinces.

“But what I think what emerges from this is that we have to recognise the inoculation of the Zambian electorate, in other ways, we have produced a two political party system…what this has done is that it has brought fear in the incumbent of losing power because UPND was the third party to MMD in 2006, today it is not, today the distance between the PF and UPND is very short. The results of 2016 suggest that there is a possibility of an opposition party taking over power,” he said.

“The fear of losing power in my view explains why we now see that despite using ethnicity, the party in power has moved away tribal balancing, which was used in the past and we have seen the rewarding of those who supported the ruling party. But what this does is that those who feel excluded and marginalised then band together with of view of replacing the one in office,” Dr Simutanyi said.

He added that the Tonga tribal talk by the PF was a campaign to win the 2021 elections and against Hichilema.

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