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Who is winning in 2021?

Kebby Mbewe says it is unthinkable and practically impossible for UPND to win a general election when PF is still in power.

This statement may be difficult to accept – or even wrong – but cannot be totally dismissed as senseless.

UPND has only defeated PF once. And that was in 2001 when PF entered elections within three months of being formed. In these elections UPND, which was formed in 1998, came second to MMD. This was when Anderson Mazoka was the UPND’s presidential candidate.

In 2006 UPND and its presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema came a distant third. The elections were won by MMD under Levy Mwanawasa and PF became second with Michael Sata as its presidential candidate.

In the presidential election of 2008 following Mwanawasa’s death, again UPND’s candidate, Hichilema came out third. The election was won by MMD with Rupiah Banda as the candidate and PF’s Sata came out second.

In 2009 UPND initiated an electoral pact with PF which Hichilema wanted to lead as the presidential candidate. But PF refused to have Sata as Hichilema’s vice-president when he had defeated the UPND leader in the previous two elections. UPND’s argument was that the political play field had since the 2008 presidential election shifted in favour of UPND and Hichilema. PF asked for evidence of that. UPND failed to provide that evidence. Professor Clive Chirwa, who Hichilema had selected to the UPND leadership committee, issued a statement suggesting that Sata should be the presidential candidate of the pact. UPND rejected this and the pact ended. In the following elections of 2011 PF and Sata won. UPND and Hichilema came out a distant third, with MMD second.

The 2011 electoral defeat decimated MMD, literally living the country with only two political parties worth talking about – PF and UPND.

In the presidential election of 2015 following Sata’s death PF with Edgar Lungu as its candidate defeated UPND’s Hichilema in a virtually two horse race.

In the 2016 general elections, again PF and Edgar defeated UPND and Hichilema.

This is the record of UPND and Hichilema’s performance in elections.

The 2016 elections offered UPND and Hichilema the best chances of winning. Things are likely to be different in 2021 with new players like the Socialist Party and its presidential candidate Dr Fred M’membe having entered the race. It will no longer be a PF/UPND affair. The political landscape is changing. Anyone who fails or refuses to accept this reality is living in a dream world and will cry like Rupiah Banda did in 2011.

UPND may no longer be the position it was in 2016. And so is PF. Both UPND and PF are losing some ground in their strongholds to the new political players.

Anyway, as Jimmy Cliff put it in a reggae rhythm, “Time will tell and time alone will tell…”

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