THE opposition should brace for a possible 2021 victory for PF, warns Maiko Zulu.
But National Democratic Congress Copperbelt Province chairman George Sichula says winning by-elections by the PF is just a psychological game.
The PF emerged victorious in five out of six ward by-elections in Western Province.
In his Facebook post, Zulu, a human rights activist, said “like it or not, the Patriotic Front (PF) is still the biggest and most powerful political party in Zambia”.
He warned that as long as the opposition continued to be content with Facebook and meme victories, PF would continue ruling beyond 2021.
“Yesterday’s [Friday] by-election results, particularly from Western Province should be taken as a huge wake up call for the opposition, especially the UPND, whose supporters are already convinced that their party will form the next government,” Zulu said.
He said as a matter of fact, if the UPND does not play their cards right, a new party would surpass them with the possibility of forming government.
Zulu added that 2021 was a litmus test for political existence for his ‘elder brother’ Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND.
“Remember how the little known Edgar Lungu became Republican President after the death of King Cobra Michael Chilufya Sata. This was despite titles like ‘Chakolwa’, ‘Jameson’ ‘Komboni’ and his self-confessed ‘Visionless[ness]’. Yes, PF have messed the country up economically, socially, religiously, politically and all but the opposition doesn’t seem to capitalise on these fallbacks,” he said.
Zulu noted that even with divisions within the ruling party, corruption allegations and political anarchy, PF still continues to gain mileage, especially among rural voters.
He noted that the average Zambian voter was gullible and in many instances the value of their vote could be equated to a disposable Chinese T-shirt and PF had fully capitalised on this mass ignorance and an uninformed electorate.
“A lot of ‘developmental’ projects will be rolled out for political mileage by the ruling party which will make the opposition job even harder. Another dimension that has been largely dominant is the aspect of the youth vote,” he said.
Zulu also noted that the opposition does not seem to have a tangible plan for youth participation and inclusion in their parties, save for parties like Dr Fred M’membe’s Socialist Party, which was the only party to have a clearly outlined ideology so far.
He also noted that if young people decided to, they could drastically change the political landscape of the country and decide who forms the next government.
Zulu said as things stand, there was a notable and steady uprising of youth who have decided to be the game changers and not spectators in their own game.
“So if opposition think PF will be wiped out just like that in the next 12 months, I’m afraid people will have heart conditions and high blood pressure when ECZ announces the results the way your preempted victory on Facebook yesterday was crushed by the actual results,” Zulu said adding, “Meanwhile lawyers will be on standby to chew your money. In fact, what a number of people are asking is whether opposition will be a lesser evil than what we have in PF today.#TheRevolutionWontBeTelevised.”
But Sichula noted that the Luapula and Western ward by-elections had sparked a debate on social media on who was more popular than the other.
“Firstly, the PF cannot use these election results as a measure of their popularity. It’s a cheap way of thinking. These elections are not a good litmus paper for the PF. It is wrong for them to conclude that they are doing well and that 2021 will be a walkover. It’s like fighting with someone when you know that you have put poison in his water to weaken him for your advantage,” he argued. “For instance, the PF has been spending very huge sums of money in almost every election. Just in Chienge, I saw more than ten 4 ×4 vehicles without number plates, queuing people up to give them bribes. It’s like giving money to a girl who doesn’t love you to accept your proposal no matter how ugly you look. I am sure in their hearts the PF know that they are using house, money, car principle to buy votes.”
Sichula said winning by-elections by the incumbent government was not new in Zambia.
He said such had been the trend from the MMD days between 2009 and 2010 and everyone believed that MMD was popular as it kept winning.
“It seems history is about to repeat itself.
The UPND and the PF have been in existence for more than 18 years. NDC has only been in existence for three years but still able to compete in an election evenly. Let me analyse these elections for someone struggling to pick something out of them. First and foremost, I want you to know that the PF are worried that their so-called strongholds are under siege by the opposition,” he said. “UPND never used to garner such numbers in Luapula, but today it’s a totally different ball game. There is a serious drop in terms of support for the PF.”
Sichula said when a party in government starts using money and material things in their perceived strongholds, then their days were numbered.
“In Zambia, leaders use money to prolong their stay in power like any other African countries. Winning elections while in government has a psychological benefit to show that they are still loved and popular when in fact not. You will notice a series of by-elections in Western Province, the reason is simple, there is hunger which the PF has taken advantage of. Things are very clear that their former strongholds have been infiltrated by the opposition, especially the Northern block, Copperbelt and Lusaka. The PF members are gripped in terrible fear of losing the 2021 elections,” said Sichula. “I do not want to comment on the alliance because people have judged for themselves, otherwise our focus as a party is to grow our base everywhere. The NDC is a very strategic party with a lot of advantages for next year’s tripartite elections. Underrate the NDC at your own peril.”