Zambia Elections 2016, some Cast and Crew dynamics
Gabriel C Banda
IN our previous writing posting, we shared our thoughts related to Zambia’s Elections of 2016. We will now discuss more on the factors favouring or challenging the candidates.
We have discussed the Running Mate dynamics, which may help or hinder a candidate. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s recent reporting on Zambia says, “Mr Hichilema has been able to tap into growing resentment over the dismal economic performance over the past 18 months, including a rapid rise in living costs, and he has benefitted from the backing of some senior PF figures.”
And, the EIU writing adds, “We expect him to win a narrow victory, but the unlevel electoral playing field poses a major risk to this forecast.”
These views from the EIU report may not hold in some situations. We have argued that there are many factors in Zambia that the EIU reporting has not considered, has ignored, has been subjective on, or has been weak on. We argue that it is not easy to be definite with some win prediction. There are many issues to appreciate and understand.
The issue of “dismal economic performance” has to be weighed together with other factors. In urban areas, the roads that some of us have been cautious about have actually received huge support from town dwellers.
Traffic congestion has eased with the commissioning of the roads. In residential areas, roads have been repaired or newly built. These have greatly affected the residential areas. In rainy season, people in peri-urban residential areas will now walk and travel with more ease. But even in rural areas, some road works have eased the situation of persons in many areas.
Personally, I believe that the roads programme should have been more limited, with resources targeted on more essential basics, particularly water and sanitation. If I had the authority, I would immediately reduce the roads programme and redirect or find resources towards water and sanitation. But a lesson is that the same zeal used on roads, if used on water and sanitation, can bring great progress in more critical, and immediate, basics.
The bigger argument in elections of 2016 is that the roads some of us are critical of are actually a key reason for many registered voters to turn up and vote. In rural and urban areas, there has also been infrastructure like health facilities and schools built.
Cross Overs and Defectors
And on the “backing of some PF members,” we believe that the effect of crossing politicians on Edgar Lungu’s candidacy is minimal. Some of the PF members leaving to join the HH campaign were already against Edgar Lungu in 2015.
Some had tried to prevent him from standing for the 2015 by-elections through removing him from his PF and government positions while some stood as candidates in some parallel convention to select one to stand as President. But the response of other PF officials and the public made Edgar Lungu retain his positions and even become the official PF candidate for the 2015 presidential by-election.
The actions of some of those that have now left to join HH actually contributed to public sympathy towards Edgar Lungu and his election in January 2015. In fact, some voters are turning out to go and vote for Edgar Lungu because some PF officials have embedded themselves with the opposition candidate.
So, the official defection of the officials from PF to the opposition is not a significant handicap but may actually have helped the situation of Edgar Lungu. For some defectors like Mulenga Sata, son of late president Michael Sata, things may sometimes depend on what some voters think about his late father.
It is not automatic that people in the public think Michael Sata did some work they applaud. Some may applaud Michael Sata but do not like the son’s shifting to the HH crew. The influence of one-time PF Vice President, and Acting/Caretaker President when Michael Sata died, may be limited with some voters being against him because of the events around the time he was acting president.
It will be interesting to find out what results those persons, and their associates and politician family members, who have defected to the opposition and are standing as candidates during the 2016 elections in positions like MP, will get.
Some voters may turn up to vote against HH because of the team and crew he has with him. The persons who joined HH’s campaign may have advantaged him to some and disadvantaged him with others. Only the actual numbers will show.
So, unlike what the EIU report says, there might be negative effect on Edgar Lungu’s popularity as defectors abandon PF and Edgar Lungu but that effect may be very minimal. Those who cross-over may sometimes lead to difficulties for their new host. In elections, the company you take in may advantage or disadvantage you.
GCB, By August 12, 2016, LUSAKA