Zambia Elections 2016 Casting, Some Factors and Dynamics, by Gabriel C Banda


Zambia Elections 2016 Casting,

Some Factors and Dynamics, I

by Gabriel C Banda

IN Zambia’s Elections and Referendum 2016, some factors will be at play. These will help or impede candidates. The candidates’ cast, crew, and set up greatly affect decisions of voters.

Out of respect for other candidates, the voters, the voting process, and also for one’s self discipline, it is still important to wait for the final results before declaring that someone has won or lost.

We find that some projections, such as those attributed to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which at times does useful work, did not consider, understand or appreciate, or perhaps they just for other reasons ignored, various important local factors and dynamics.

They write: “Assuming a reasonably credible vote, we continue to expect Mr Hichilema to win a narrow victory.” The EIU implies a likely second round run off.  But both expectations of HH to win and a second round election were opinions that may have had no basis on mood and issues on the ground.

The EIU write-up is not systematically considerate of the various factors at hand. It comes out as some subjective view of the candidates, some “Like” and “Dislike” of candidates and the preferred direction of the outcome . It is sometimes better to wait for the actual result as expectations brought about by error or subjective view may be misleading.

The Economist Intelligence Unit writing also mentions that, unlike the sceptical President Edgar Lungu, UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, “HH,” has now openly agreed to an IMF programme if he comes into office. And also that, “Regardless of the outcome of the election, a tighter, IMF-backed fiscal framework is likely and our forecast of a gradually narrowing fiscal deficit in 2017‑20 remains unchanged.”

Of course, sadly, both candidates are likely, one willingly and the other perhaps not willingly, to be pushed into some IMF programme, which is likely to greatly have strong negative impact on the basic needs of many people. Sadly,  the IMF had in recent months still managed to get the Edgar Lungu administration, although reluctantly, to begin preparing for a possible IMF agreement that would start after the elections.

If PF’s Edgar Lungu gets back into office, an IMF programme will put pressure on his government and bring dissatisfaction in many of those that voted for him. This will affect who ever will be the PF presidential candidate in 2021.

Neither some in opposition nor the Edgar Lungu administration seem to appreciate the negative impact that IMF programmes have had on Zambia and other parts of the world, including, recently, in Greece and other European societies. The IMF programmes have led to deaths, riots, instability, and decline in quality of life of many in society. And there ARE alternatives to IMF programmes. And unlike before, it IS possible to avoid the IMF and its negative machine.

At the same time, the economy is not the only factor voters in Zambia consider. Some factors are stronger than the economic and financial situation of the voters. Voters consider many other factors, including the person they feel more safe, at home, and friend with. Many factors will affect turnout.

                                                               The Turnout Factor

But, back to the elections, we observe that crucial to the final results of Zambia’s 2016 elections will be the volume of turnout of voters. The turnout will help some candidates and work against some candidates. Many factors will affect the level of turnout throughout Zambia.

A high turnout is likely to boost some candidates and weaken the chances of others. Those who had previously scored high turnout in their support areas may, even with the addition of high recent 2016 Elections voter registration in their support areas, be worried of a high general turnout in Zambia, especially in areas where your opponents are strong.

But some in Zambia were expecting that a huge turnout may not be favourable to key opposition candidates. Others felt high turnout may help opposition. While both Edgar Lungu and opposition HH were likely to increase their votes due to a high turnout, the ratio in the difference will be much higher and definite than in January 2015. But, still, it is better and honourable to wait for the actual count.


The elections also witnessed some violence that, bearing in mind Zambia’s long relative stability, was of great concern. Much of the violence was PF-UPND cadre violence. But other parties had also been affected.First President Dr Kenneth Kaunda called for “practical work towards “Zero Violence.” He said political party cadres should not be used as militias and troops.

And while at some point the Elections Commission of Zambia suspended campaigns in some two areas due to violence, this suspension was useful but, sadly, also affected other parties that did not engage in violence. The suspension was useful but would have been even more effective if the main actors, PF and UPND cadres, had their campaigns suspended while the other parties not involved were allowed to continue campaigning in those areas.

This would have allowed the imposing of necessary sanctions while those playing fairly would have been rewarded by being allowed to be free to campaign in the areas. It would also have prevented further PF-UPND violence.

In addition, violence does affect turnout for votes. Many women, who are often registered more than men, will keep away where they feel there is violence and high tension.

For now, we should consider various factors and dynamics that will contribute to the final results of Elections 2016.

                                                                    Parties Transformation

It is worth remembering that in Zambia, parties have been transforming greatly. The MMD of third president Levy Mwanawasa was not the same as the original one of the Frederick Chiluba administration.

Although Levy took over from Frederick Chiluba, his administration ended up moving away from the harsh, Thatcherite, individualistic “swim or sink” economic policies promoted by IMF and World Bank.

Levy’s team even began to provide some subsidy support for farm production, leading to high production. The administration also began to allow free health services, starting with the rural areas.

There was no longer the attitude of government being completely removed from supporting enterprises and members of society. Under the Rupiah Banda administration, these programmes continued and were sometimes expanded.

The changes in transition are both on policies and practices and the leaders of the parties and administrations. When President Michael Sata came into office in 2011, infrastructure projects like roads, which had been there under MMD and RB administration, were gone into in a big way, so big that there were concerns about how national budget and financial balance would be affected.

When Sixth President Edgar Lungu took over after the elections of January 2015 that followed the passing of President Michael Sata, the roads projects, and others like health and education facilities construction, continued being implemented. This was to an extent where, again, some persons were concerned that the national finances would be greatly affected by the infrastructure projects.

But some important change related to President Edgar Lungu and President Michael Sata related to their approaches, styles, and demeanor. We can note that the PF administration became more systematic and organised in programme and other approaches. And under Edgar Lungu, the PF moved from the image of being led and controlled by persons that could be considered “tough.” While President Lungu still paid tribute to the late fifth president, the PF began to appear with some more gentle clothing.

                                                           Parties as Vessels

Again, we should note that leaders of parties have sometimes used parties as vessels they get onto and can dump for other available vessels. This has happened from 1991.  While their cadres may quarrel with those of other parties, party leaders and officials do easily move across parties, even to those they previously strongly condemned or ridiculed.

                                                           Running Mate.

Running Mate. There is now in the Constitution the requirement of a “Running Mate” to the President. It was meant to provide security of tenure of the Vice President and smooth transition if the need arises. This Running Mate arrangement has some weaknesses and challenges, with examples from Brazil and Malawi, that may at times create difficulties. These may, or may not, happen in Zambia.

The selection of running mates in Zambia’s elections of 2016 will have quite some bearing on the results. Some are liked and some are not. The concern by many is that, under the new system, the Vice President is always a potential president and actually in some instances acts like a President or co-president.

So voters opposed to a particular running mate may turn out to cast a vote against the presidential candidate. It is a way of preventing the running mate from acting in the office of President. Or they may like a running mate and thus turn out to vote, even where they initially may not have planned to go and vote.

The Running Mate factor may not in large numbers reduce voters pledged to a candidate but may lead to high turn out by those who oppose the candidate and running mate and would otherwise have stayed away from turning up. People may decide to turn out to vote when they are worried about the combination of presidential candidate and running mate.

Also, besides presidential running mates as factors in turning out to oppose or support a candidate or team, others taking part in the elections under a party affect support of the whole team standing as a party in the roles of President, MP, Mayor, and Ward Councillor.  Many candidates for parliament, mayor, and councillor were putting their presidential candidates and their parties on the flyers.

But, actually, in some cases, associating with some party, president, parliamentary, mayor, or ward council candidate can distance you from some voters that do not like those.  While some voters may consider candidates linked to a party as a package, others consider individual candidates. This may thus lead to one voting for an MP or mayor or councillor of one party, or an independent, and not voting for that candidate’s aligned or preferred presidential candidate. Sometimes, aligning with some candidate of another office may be a burden.

Because they do not like some candidate or running mate, some voters may turn out to vote, and vote against the candidate and crew they do not like. They vote against that candidate and running mate by voting for another that may not be their very preferred candidate but will support as a way of contributing to the defeat of the candidate the voter does not recommend.

Some voters will not turn up to vote when they are displeased with the presidential candidate and running mate. Yet some will turn up to vote when they find there is a candidate and team they do not like.

They may be turning up to vote in order to come and stop some candidate and running mate. You are sometimes judged by the company you keep. The candidature is not just about you, but those you turn up with as crew and team. In Elections 2016, this will be a major factor in voter turn out. In Elections 2016, some presidential candidates seemed unprepared for a running mate and did not handle it smoothly.

*                        *                    *

– GCB, July-August 2016, LUSAKA.













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