[By David Chishimba]
I will be very frank and quick to highlight that it is an undisputable fact that the country at this stage needed change, people needed something and someone to believe in.
They needed to have hope for a better tomorrow because they were struggling with unemployment and also to pay tuition fees, rentals and generally to survive.
Looking at the fact that the PF government scored highly in terms of infrastructure, people would have understood if there was no looting of government resources and if leaders painted the picture that they were suffering together with the people. But it wasn’t the case, the PF government failed to put a leash on the following: enriched raving cadres who had proven to even have more power and authority than any government institution, PF government officials who were looting the country at will and in broad daylight, the PF government failed to provide a strong and fair legal framework which citizens could rely on to sort out corrupt government officials. This made people feel helpless and wanted a government which can at least hear them. The major mistake PF consequently made at the end was to downplay the power of social media and the youths. That is why it ended in Bowman tears. UPND won not because they campaigned well or had more members, because even in the 11th hour, their members were busy defecting to PF. UPND won simply because people wanted change. They could have even voted for president Alex Mulyokela had he the numbers.
Nonetheless, despite the downsides, the PF government scored on infrastructure development and on creating income generating sources such as the mines which the government got back, tollgates on the constructed roads, income from Zesco tariffs having ended load shedding, and from councils through taxes due to decentralisation brought about by the division of districts. With these developments they put the country on the right track to recover and rebuild the economy.
Having scored on infrastructure and income generating sources, change was necessary if we were to rebuild the economy fast because history has it that starting from UNIP through to MMD and finally to PF, a political party in power has got a grace period of seven years. Every party does extremely well in the first five years, they start messing up in the following two years after re-election, which leaves people in a dilemma. They don’t know whether to continue clinging on to the party in government or to start calling for change, in the next three years, people usually make up their mind and start calling for change. This is where a good opposition needs to campaign well and convince the masses that they are ready to take up the mantle and can do better. So, we have seen all the firing and hiring before because UNIP, MMD and PF also did it, it’s not a knew thing. What will determine what UPND is really made up of is their seven years in power, that is if they won’t mess up fast.
In the last three years to 2021 elections, UPND was quick to promise the moon and stars to the betrothed to tie the knot. So UPND should sober up quickly, reorganise itself, restrategise and start delivering because they are going to have a very tough time governing the country than any government in the history of Zambia because their only job is to change the economy, as we all know, the economy deals with numbers and numbers don’t lie.
To spice up the concoction, they were voted for by youths whom they promised jobs and free education and also by social media critics whom they promised a better economy. Trust me, this is all fun and games until one fails to deliver according to their expectations and they turn against them. They say that the same teeth a dog uses when playing are the same teeth it uses for biting when fighting.
UPND should also learn fast to use the media very cautiously, looking at the mess they have made in just ten days after being sworn into office. They should avoid propaganda because no one develops an economy with propaganda. They should also avoid going to the media with unverified statements because this has a capacity to make people lose faith in and second guess whatever they will be saying and this, fellow countrymen and women, is not good for the government. The late second president Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba knew how to handle the media and press very well; UPND should take a leaf from that.
Like I said earlier, UPND promised numbers, which don’t lie, they promised the Kwacha to be at K10 against the dollar. The question we all need to be asking ourselves is, what would happen if the currency was to go back to K20 because we all know that the Kwacha gained, not because of economic interventions put up by UPND but because of pre-existing conditions. So, the UPND government inherited a Kwacha which had started doing well. And economic history has it that our currency is to a large extent affected by external factors and little by internal interventions.
The other three very sensitive promises they made are the bag of mealie meal which they said will be going at K50, fuel which they said will be trading at K5 and fertilizer which they promised farmers will go down to K250 per bag. These are very serious promises. If these don’t come to pass in a timely period, I am telling you UPND won’t enjoy their stay.
The upside for UPND is that it’s a party which is purported to have a lot of intellectuals, so there is a chance that they can deliver on most of their promises. Another upside is that there isn’t any other party which can remove it in 2026 apart from PF. And I wonder if people would rather go back to their vomit. The challenge with PF’s rebranding strategy is that the people whom the electorate think were part of the mess are still at the helm of power. Sean Tembo, the Patriots for Economic Progress president is going to put a lot of pressure on UPND, seeing that economic issues are his specialty. But he doesn’t have a good strategy to grow his party on the ground, the party which has the potential to form government in 2031 is Harry Kalaba’s Democratic Party.
Fred M’membe’s Socialist Party also has a chance because their party is comfortable with finances.
Highvie Hamududu’s Party of National Unity and Progress has got a lucky charm, but we will have to wait and see where that will get him. Andyford Banda, People’s Alliance for Change president, has been getting better results than most small political parties but he is not known on the ground. If at all Chishimba Kambwili never defected, he would have been the big cat in the game with NDC. Well, anyways such is life. Wynter Kabimba, Rainbow party president, together with Edith Nawakwi for FDD lost direction. I mean, what do they even stand for now?
The author is a youth resident in Kalulushi on the Copperbelt.
For comment: email@example.com