There are so many predictions and analysis of what is likely to be next year’s elections outcome.
But most of these predictions are not really anchored on what is happening every day in this country but on what happened in 2016.
There’s so much talk about strongholds as if these are cast in stone, as politics don’t change with candidates and time.
The Patriotic Front had never won elections in Eastern Province under the leadership of Michael Sata. But immediately Edgar Lungu became president of the party and its presidential candidate in 2014, following Sata’s death, the Patriotic Front started winning in Eastern Province. And today the Patriotic Front boasts of Eastern Province being its bedroom, stronghold. Things changed overnight and really so fast.
And Western Province, which is today being bandied around as a UPND stronghold, has not been consistently so.
In 2001 UPND did very well in Western Province but didn’t win the whole Province. MMD wasn’t completely swept out. In 2006 the MMD under Levy Mwanawasa reversed all this and did very well in Western Province.
In 2011 although UPND won more seats in Western Province, the party performed poorly in the provincial capital of Mongu. Here Sata won and Rupiah Banda of MMD came second. Hakainde Hichilema of UPND came out a distant third. And the Patriotic Front candidate won the Mongu Central Constituency seat. In 2016, reinforced by defectors from MMD, UPND swept everything in Western Province. Will that be the case next year? Nobody can predict that with certainty. There are some new political players on the scene whose performance can’t be predicted because they are not taking part in by-elections. But they are working very hard and can’t be ignored. In Western Province the Socialist Party is having some reasonable visibility whose election impact we cannot easily ascertain. But they can’t be ignored.
And this is the case with many parts of the country.
As Jimmy Cliff aptly put it in a reggae rhythm, “Time will tell and time alone will tell…”