Tag Archives: Elections

UK Election Candidates and Lessons, by Gabriel C Banda

 

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UK Election Candidates and Lessons

By

Gabriel C Banda

THERE are some lessons the UK Elections of June 8, 2017 have for the conduct of elections and politics in other parts of the world.

We will now consider the leaders of the main political parties.  Prime Minister Theresa May, of the ruling Conservative Party, called for the elections after she got into office after taking over from her leader David Cameron, a fellow Conservative, who resigned after the negative result of the Brexit referendum.

David Cameron, who had expected a vote in favour of remaining in the European Union and called for the referendum, was disappointed with the “Leave” result. He could therefore not preside over the exit from Europe, an exit he opposed. Therefore, David Cameron resigned to give way for another ruler to deal with the exit.

                                                                 Brexit

Mama Theresa May is in a position of heading a government that must respond to the Brexit Referendum result requiring UK to leave the European Union. Of course, leaving Europe is very complex for Europe, UK, and others and will have effects that are likely to leave Britain worse off in various things.

After UK leaves the EU, it is almost certain that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.  There will also be complications in Northern Ireland, administratively a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland. We feel Brexit is more of a Break It.

But Theresa May is now prime minister and has, whether she likes Brexit or not, the task of following the referendum result that requires UK to leave UK. Because she must administer the exit required by the referendum, she has focussed on performing the task, whether she wants of not.

She has set her mind on doing some necessary task and role. She is making herself to flow with it. But we have to wait to find out if she will turn out like Cameron, calling for a poll and not winning it. But the elections she called are useful because they enable people, all citizens, to actually make a choice about who should be their prime minister at this time.

Of course, the elections will be more than just about Brexit.

                                                          Conservative for All?

Now, there are some issues that may be difficult for Theresa May because they are Conservative Party position and issues, not necessary that they are her limitations. It is interesting that Theresa May has, from the beginning of her rule, has called for a Britain and Conservative Party, often associated with positions of wealthy persons and the right wing striving for the exclusive, that works for prosperity for all people.

She wants to move the Conservative Party to be a party for people from all areas of life, rather than the wealthy and exclusive, so-called “elite.” She wants a Conservative Party and Britain for all.

Of course, sometimes Theresa May acts with a sincerity that can be considered naïve. At her meeting new USA president Donald Trump, one would have been careful about showing a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship with the Trump presidency.

Some people’s attitude towards her can be affected by their attitude towards Donald Trump. But Theresa May comes out as a person one may differ with over some issues but will respect for her listening to what others are saying and to her sincerity.

                                                               Jeremy Corbyn

In the elections also is my big man, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader. Just like my big man Bernie Sanders of the USA, Jeremy Corbyn is both sharply analytical and very courageous. He is fearless. And he is sincere as he speaks his message. His sincerity connects to the hearts and minds of many.

There were some persons, many from Labour in Parliament, who blamed him for what was not his fault – the “Yes” Brexit result.  They implied he did not do enough.

But Jeremy Corbyn could not do much about the result. Jeremy Corbyn did not cause the “Yes” Brexit result. Some persons, some of them Labour parliamentarians, also tried to stigmatise Jeremy Corbyn but, without much facts and basis, implying that he did not appeal to voters.

While those politicians within and outside Labour may not like Corbyn or his political positions, he actually has a lot of support with the public. The plotters of the coup plot may have envied, ignored, or underestimated Jeremy Corbyn’s widening appeal to the public.

If Corbyn’s Labour does not win the June 2017 elections, Corbyn, who was for Europe, will be saved from a very uncomfortable and complex Brexit UK delink process. If he then stays as Labour leader, he is very likely to win the next elections.

It seems Corbyn may currently be in a Win-Win situation. But, like in all elections, you do not speculate but just wait for the final announced results. In the UK, the elections are not held directly on the leaders of parties, but the leader of the party that gets the most parliamentary seats, or a coalition of parties with most seats, becomes prime minister. A victor may get the most seats but not necessarily the most votes nationwide.

                                                                   Lessons

In the June 2017 elections, there are also other contestant parties and candidates. For now, some of the key lessons are about the conduct of candidates during elections. The controversial, and cut-throat 2016 United States elections provided big contrast to the current UK elections.

The UK elections of June 2017 provide great lessons. The UK party leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, are generally, or relatively, polite. You do not hear outright insults and uncouth statements. They try to focus on policies and issues, and actually discuss those issues, even if they do not have the answers.

What I find striking is the sincerity of both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in opposition. You may differ with some things they say, but theirs are not political gymnastics to please voters. They are sincere in their discussion. They lay out their positions on issues. They are persons who have missions they feel are important for the society, not just for their personal and group interests. Their sincerity is very notable.

                                                              David Cameron

Besides the examples of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in UK there was also some good lessons from David Cameron. One of the greatest things Cameron did was to allow the decision of parliament about not striking Syria over accusations of chemical weapons.

David Cameron, who actually as a person comes out as a likeable person, respected the decision of parliament. In America, that provided Barack Obama a window to also not raid Syria.

Raiding Syria at that time could have made ISIS thrive earlier and brought about further difficulties for the Middle East, the Western World, and the whole. Syria would have become ISIS.

Earlier, David Cameron and Barack Obama had made the mistake of supporting, even if reluctantly for Obama, the war-lord Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of France’s forces, to, despite caution and opposition from the African Union, raid Libya and murder and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and regime, leading to instability that has greatly affected the world.

The 2017 lessons about sincerity of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn towards politics and governance can help others in many parts of the world. Politics would be more civilised, more cultured. UK June 2017 elections are better example in politics and governance than USA 2016. And, currently, we have not heard about some Russia conspiracy to hack into the UK Elections!

ginfinite@yahoo.com

The Author: Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Gabriel C Banda is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues.

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– GCB, June 2017.   At Wednesday, June 7th 2017.

 

 

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Zambia Elections 2016, Cast and Crew dynamics, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Zambia Elections 2016, some Cast and Crew dynamics

By

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

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.

Violence

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.

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– GCB, July-August 2016, LUSAKA.

WE WILL LATER CONSIDER OTHER FACTORS IN ZAMBIA’S ELECTIONS OF 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casting Zambia Elections 2016, by Gabriel C Banda

Casting Zambia Elections 2016,

by

Gabriel C Banda

(Recently, we have reflected through sharing parts of PF, the Divided House writing I had shared around Zambia’s January 2015 presidential by-elections. The thoughts were discussion on the rising of Edgar Lungu to presidential candidate WITHIN their PF party. There are more thoughts we have had on account of President Edgar Lungu administration’s performance in office and the relations around other candidates in Election 2016)

 

Casting Zambia Elections 2016

By

Gabriel C Banda

WHATEVER the outcome, elections greatly transform societies. And whatever a person voted, elections transform individuals in society. The results of elections will always make persons enter other phases of life. But there are some things we must think about as elections are about to happen.

Out of respect for the election arrangement and the voters, you should never celebrate before the vote is cast and before the vote is counted. Doing so may be disrespect for other candidates, the voters, and the elections process.

Things may change from what you expect. Prospects of election candidates may change due to factors that can come into play, including factors that may suddenly come into play even just shortly before the election day comes.

Factors of change can be linked to issues and events involving candidates, their party, and other human and natural events in the society.

The factors may lead to situations that may include the following:

  • Some registered voters keeping away from the elections, affecting both turnout and chances of some candidates
  • Some registered voters turn up, after they initially might have avoided going to make the vote

The turn-up may be for various reasons:

  • Some voters will turn up in order to support a candidate
  • Some voters will turn up in order to vote against some candidate.

Put it in mind that, in elections, your candidate of choice is not necessarily the one that most votes will choose. Know that the elected person is not necessarily the one best suited to deal with the tasks of the role being voted for.

Elections do not necessarily result in the election of the person best suited to the tasks of the position, but get to choose the candidate who the most number of voting persons desire to take up a position. The elected person is not necessarily the best suited and the ones not elected are not necessarily the worst for that position.

You may not like a candidate that is eventually chosen but you must accept that person’s selection and their holding the position they have contested for.

Also, know that election results are expressions of feelings of support at a particular time. A candidate who is elected may not necessarily be chosen at other following elections. A person that is not selected in an election may at some other time come out the elected. So things with elections are not very fixed but are able to change.

Renewed Constitution

Zambia’s elections of August 11, 2016 will take place under a new Constitution.  This new Constitution has come about from public deliberations and input.  The Election Day will have voting for many positions: President, Member of Parliament, Council Mayors, and Ward Councillors. There will also be included a Referendum on the Bill of Rights.

The new Constitution is will be interesting to put into force. While one believes that there are potentially some difficulties in issues like the Running Mate Vice President, the “Grade Twelve” requirement, there are some clauses, like the “Fifty Per Cent Plus One person,” that are very helpful. The Fifty Per Cent Plus One helps to get a wider consent from all parts of a country than happens in simple majority “first past the post” elections.

But some of the content in the new Constitution may be well meaning yet difficult to apply in reality. In our earlier writing, we have mentioned our concerns about running mate, particularly with the examples of Brazil and Malawi, where there was conflict between president and a vice president who, by law, will not be removed from office. Although there are those of us critical of the Running Mate clause, other persons have pointed out some advantages it may have.

Sometimes, expected and unexpected problems may happen in implementation of Constitutions and elections. We hope that, experiencing and knowing the challenges arising due to implementation of the content of the Constitution, things will be smoothed out and made better. In Zambia’s Elections 2016, some factors will be at play. These will help or impede candidates. These we will observe and discuss soon.

  • GCB, LUSAKA. July/August 2016.

The Divided House and emerging of Edgar Lungu, by Gabriel C Banda

“Why Edgar Lungu?” I had been asked, by my friends, why Edgar Lungu ended up being the PF presidential candidate. This writing I did is some excerpt dealing with Why, in the conflict, within PF, around the Zambia’s Presidential by-election of January 2015, Edgar Lungu came out with much support amongst members of PF and the public. I wrote this and shared with friends. This was written with a focus on internal PF situation and how that affected them. The topic of Elections 2016 and inter-party contesting, I will deal with at some other point but very soon. ………Thank You. GCB, LUSAKA.

                                                   Why Edgar

Some persons have asked me why Edgar Lungu emerged the preferred candidate within PF and the public. The reasons are many but will include various issues. Edgar Lungu was considered to have been in good favour of the Fifth president, Michael Chilufya Sata. Sata gave Lungu key positions within the PF party and government. When Wynter Kabimba was removed as Secretary General of PF, the position was given to Edgar Lungu. Besides the party position, Edgar was, unusually, was, unusually, given two ministerial positions: that of Defence and Justice.

Key for his supporters within PF, was that Michael Sata made Edgar Lungu to act as state President while Sata was out of the country. In fact, some ministers like Dr Joseph Katema have said that President Sata insisted on handing over the instruments of state authority to Edgar Lungu before he could leave Zambia for medical attention abroad.

Other factors in favour of Edgar Lungu’s candidature and his rising appeal amongst many non-PF members of the public was that many members of the public became sympathetic to Edgar when Guy Scott and team within PF were acting against the Secretary General. It is possible that without the actions against him, his backing from the public could have been less.

An important factor in the support for Edgar Lungu was his perceived personality. Edgar Lungu was considered to be modest, somewhat gentle, and showing some humility, and therefore likely to be a considerate and listening ruler, a servant of the public rather than an aloof master and boss.

We must remember that Edgar Lungu was coming out as a contrast to some other officials within the PF. Other many PF officials supporting him seem to have felt that this time it was important to present a candidate who was by character accepted and admired by more across Zambia.

We must remember that in rural Zambia, character – especially of the humility, humble, fair, and service type – is greatly respected and promoted. The one who demonstrates tolerance and patience when faced by attacks or stress will be considered a more respected person and winner.

And people in Zambia’s rural tend to turn out for voting. The women tend to come out in large numbers to vote – although where there is violence, many women will keep away from the voting booth.

In many parts of Zambia and Africa, and even Asia, when there is a vacancy, one who would be a leader or ruler will not offer and promote them self. It must be others around you who have confidence in you who should point out that you must be the leader to take the position.

In many cultures, it is rude and not very cultured to show a lot of the “I” in your move towards public office. One must be a provider of service who is proposed by others to be a leader or ruler. Many persons make the mistake of openly promoting themselves when seeking office. That may work in cultures in America but is not respected by many in Zambia’s cultures.

A leader must appear self less. Edgar Lungu was emerging as a person of choice by the people, not one who was by ambition driving himself to some public seats. Edgar Lungu would be different from the image of the Patriotic Front being a party of tough acting persons.

At the same time, Edgar Lungu was considered one who would follow on with programmes under Michael Sata, thus getting him the support of those who were pro-Sata and wanted a feeling of stability through continuity. Edgar Lungu was careful not to make remarks that attack late Michael Sata. In the cultures of Zambia and others, one must show respect to elders and deceased and can only address issues without openly attacking an elder or deceased person.

In fact, one of Edgar Lungu’s appeals to many was to express that he did not have his own vision but was carrying forward the vision there around Michael Sata. This was not weakness but considered a strength in local cultures. In Kenya, President Arap Moi had talked about “Nyayo,” continuity with programmes of the late Jomo Kenyatta. It avoids the image of a radical rebellion or revolution against a predecessor and their supporters.

Edgar Lungu, having been born and grown up on the Copperbelt, also appealed to a huge segment of voters – those on the Copperbelt. They would consider Edgar one of them. That Copperbelt support could extend to nearby areas of Central Province, Luapula, and even Northern provinces.

Thus for many in the rural and urban areas, Edgar Lungu was a person they could understand, feel at home with. We must also remember that a lot of “Ba Kopala” had since 1991 migrated to the huge urban centre of Lusaka. Thus, besides other Lusaka residents, there were bound to be many Copperbelt migrant linked pro-Edgar votes in Lusaka.

Because of his roles and positions in PF and government and because of his character, Edgar Lungu was more likely to appeal to many voters across Zambia than some other PF officials. It was likely that, as a party in government, and even with some members of PF having left the party or campaigning against him, if many voters turned up to vote, the contest between Edgar Lungu and other candidates may be very tight.  ………../GCB, Lusaka..

(MORE WILL FOLLOW, ON COMING ELECTIONS, 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Seeks to Be King, by Gabriel C Banda

 

He Seeks to Be King

By

Gabriel C Banda

He seeks to be King.

And in him we have counted at least seven signs of insanity. Many signs there have been. And many signs have been presented to us. This may be beyond insanity. He actually acts uncouth. He insults. He divides. He slanders. He tells untruths. With words he attacks and wounds. Fire comes from his mouth. Burning others. He tramples on others.

He showers disrespect on others. And much more he does. He goes on. The world is shaken.

Yes, courageous. But impolite, rough. Bullying clothed as independence. If not a thug, then a bully. And perhaps more.

And cheers and sighs greet his words. Joy and worry greet his actions. He seeks to be King. Mentally ill-prepared for the tasks of the throne. This card that has come into the game, will this be the next King?

Will this be the next ideal? Will he sit on the throne and rattle the world? Will he unbalance the world far, far, beyond his throne? But insanity affects some who are still human. Good persons can be insane. And insane persons can be good. Those with insanity should not be abused. Yet there is surely some difference between insanity and the emergence and rumblings of evil. But he seeks to be King.

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G C B, Lusaka. Tuesday, August 02nd, 2016.                                                                 *

 

 

Zambia Constitutional Amendment 2015 Issues, the Running Mate

Zambia Constitutional Amendment 2015 Issues, the Running Mate

by Gabriel C Banda

President Lungu’s assenting to the Constitutional amendments bills of 2015 on Tuesday January 05th, 2016, will be a major mark in Zambia’s life.

Those Constitutional contents of Zambia will have various effects, some positive and some negative.

The 50 Per Cent Plus One provision in the presidential elections is likely to contribute to a succeeding Presidential candidate who, because of the second round where voters all over the country will zero in on two candidates and make choice, will have wider national acceptance than has happened in some elections.

There will be wider acceptance of the President ascended and serving in office. Previously, there are those of us that were worried that a candidate with the highest votes may have, say, 30% of the votes cast and will become president yet around 70% of the voters may not be for the person. This was unfair and undemocratic.

But from the 2016 elections, there will now likely be less discontent and hostility towards the elected President because people would have been given chance to select the final candidate, the President-Elect.

One hopes that the provisions on presidential election candidates will not lead to the emergence of a two-party system and some parties going into decline. Sadly, there have been some calls for parties to merge so that they may be bigger and stronger. This may negatively affect political advances in Zambia.

It does not mean that all who head political parties do so because they feel they will win the presidency. It is important to have various political parties as their members and leaders provide the very needed variation. They contribute various ideas, views, and positions. They are needed and should not phase out due to big-party political systems.

And the financial cost of a 50 Per Cent Plus One system should not be excuse not to have it. The cost is a necessary expense, worth it through the wide, national, and more democratic approval of the elected President. The cost is cheaper than discontent and hostility arising from a president that is not popularly elected.

There are other comments to be made about the various parts assented to. We will also be interested in considering practical issues and effects that might arise from some of the amendments done. Among others, practical challenges can be around provisions like minimum academic qualifications for Presidential, MP, and Councillor candidates.

For now, we will consider the Presidential “Running Mate” provision. It is about a Vice President candidate who is legally tied to the Presidential candidate and their term. They are a team.

The Presidential Running Mate clause has both advantages and potential problems. The Running Mate system has worked fairly well in places like the United States. In some places it has not worked well or, rather, it has failed.
The provision can help the public decide who should act as President when the President is not available. At present in Zambia, an acting President, whether the Vice President or another, and whether a good worker or not, is imposed on the public.

Currently, the President chooses the Vice President and, if required, can change them anytime, while still in term. This has both advantages and challenges.

The experience around the Michael Sata administration showed the difficulties of having to select who should be acting President even when the president goes out for a normal visit. This becomes a bigger problem when there is discord within a ruling party and various forces within are trying to take or influence presidential authority.

While there were some challenges around transition at the time of Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa’s passing away in 2008, the issue was very serious and disturbing at the illness and passing away of President Michael Sata in 2014.

This was due to weak, unstable, inconsistent, unavailable, or inadequate internal processes. There were challenges around structures, channels, management, practices, and succession procedures associated with the management practices of the then PF party administration.

The experience constitutes some of the weak parts of the legacy of our beloved Big Man, late Michael Sata, in his role as President. It is important to avoid similar situations happening.

In the new system, the Running Mate, the Vice President candidate, will be accepted as President to complete the term when a President, through factors like impeachment, ill-health, or death, ceases to be head of state.

And in the field of political party negotiations and concessions, a Running Mate will help parties in alliance, as the Vice President from another party in an alliance cannot be removed by the President after being voted in. This provides security of position to the Vice President but can also create national instability when the President and Vice President are at loggerheads, as happened in some countries.

Of course, there are many factors to consider over a Running Mate. Because the president will be bound to the person who is Vice President, the selection or choosing of a candidate must consider long-term factors. It must be more than just about the present. The Vice President, who in Zambia facilitates cabinet, parliamentary, and government issues, must be very competent and not just ceremonial.

The Vice President must respect and get on well with the President. For the stability of society, they must get on well throughout the term. It is expected that the Vice President will not attempt to directly or indirectly harm the President and the President’s office and government.

It is not exaggeration to say that it is possible that through differences or ambitions involving the two, a Vice might attempt to take over the Presidency from one who is still in term. Foul play may be attempted.

We also need to ask what happens when a Running Mate Vice President stops their role due to ill health, graft, or death. How smooth will be the process of replacing the Vice President while the President’s term is still on?

For some other limitations over a fixed Running Mate, we can also consider practical examples, such as that in our neighbourhood. The experience of Zambia’s neighbour Malawi provides lessons that are warnings or points to consider and rectify in order to make things smoother.

In 2004, President Bingu wa Mutharika, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, had Cassim Chilumpha, of the UDF party, as his Vice President. Later, the President and Vice President had strong differences. But Mutharika legally was not able to easily fire Chilumpha.

And later, in the elections of 2009, Bingu wa Mutharika got Mrs Joyce Banda as Running Mate. And, later, Vice President Joyce Banda and President Bingu wa Mutharika had big differences. But as she had been a Running Mate, Joyce Banda could not be removed as State Vice President, even though expelled from the ruling DPP party.

Meanwhile, because she was the holder of the state office, no one could be actively appointed to replace her. So, the Vice President had differences with the President and the Vice President was not reporting to the President.

She sat on the position and was not removable so that another person could do that state Vice President official role. She even formed her own party, the People’s Party, while being an official Vice President who was in practice not working for the president.

Thus there was some tension when Bingu wa Mutharika died, in April 2012, and she, being the official Vice President even though she had stopped working for the President and had formed her own People’s Party, PP, was lined to take over, by law.

Eventually, after difficulties, she did take over and became President. Now, it also happened that when Mama Joyce Banda was going for Presidential elections in May 2014, she had differences with her Vice President, Khumbo Kachali, who she chose not to adopt as her Running Mate.

Instead, she chose Sosten Gwengwe, a young man who had joined the ruling DPP party from opposition MCP and later, after Bingu wa Mutharika’s death in 2013, joined Joyce Banda’s PP, People’s Party. He became her Running Mate in the May 20, 2014 elections.

Of course, the selection of Running Mate created problems in her ruling party. Joyce Banda did not win the elections. Running Mate Sosten Gwengwe did not even win his former parliamentary seat. In 2015, there was talk of Gwengwe getting back to the MCP.

But clearly, the Running Mate condition was an important issue. The differences also created other difficulties in the country.

Thus, with our neighbours’ experiences as practical lessons, the Running Mate provision Zambia is trying to adopt now must be carefully thought through, with potential challenges dealt with and sealed.

Of course, the Running Mate provision affects political parties in various ways. It will have implications in ruling and opposition parties. Some will find difficulties to field a Running Mate. The provision may shake and divide some parties. The provision will also affect alliances of political parties as they try to offer a common candidate and make deals on who should be President and Vice President candidates.

Because of some of the reasons discussed, I do not believe that the Vice President Running Mate system may always work well in our Zambian situation.

I believe the Vice President should not replace a President-Elect when the President-Elect is unable to take up position. Let the voters choose again. Some Vice Presidents may be alright as Vice President but not as President. In any case, the race is based on the Presidential candidate who comes with a known Vice President candidate.

The key candidate is the President and the Vice is subsidiary. I believe the Vice should not substitute a President-Elect that is unable to be sworn in. Many voters may not believe a Vice President candidate can necessarily be the lead presidential candidate.

The Constitutional clauses for assent in Bills 17 and 18 of 2015 were not made by the Edgar Lungu administration but were extracted from the last Constitutional draft that had open input from members of the public from various sectors.

In Constitutional clauses in earlier administrations and the recent public process, some parts are influenced by persons that are trying to affect some other persons they do not want to succeed as candidates.

Some clauses done in the Chiluba administration were considered unfair and divisive but nevertheless remained unremoved by succeeding administrations. Some had, away from the spirit and motto of One Zambia One Nation, contributed to a nation of citizens and lesser citizens.

Nothing was stopping succeeding administrations from undoing the destructive clauses planted in the Chiluba administration. Later administrations seem to have felt they would come back to the unwanted clauses later.

The Chiluba administration’s provisions contributed to some social stress that still needs to be healed. It is pleasing that the Edgar Lungu administration, through the Constitutional Amendments of 2015, acted to undo some of the divisive seeds sown by the Chiluba administration through the Constitution.

But not all is smooth. For some aspects in the recent draft constitution used as base for the 2015 Amendments will bring unnecessary difficulties. These aspects include some minimum educational qualifications for candidates for President, Vice President, and Councillor.

This will be complex and not easy to settle. Some amendments are in principle progressive and meant to help the Common Good, but may require supporting mechanisms in order to be smooth and not give problems.

It is also likely that Edgar Lungu’s haters and hard tackling opponents may question the issue of number of terms President Edgar Lungu will want to have and whether, because with his 19 months in office finishing late Michael Sata’s term, he will have in August 2016 done less than half a five year term. In the Constitution draft clauses, less than half a term is not counted as a term.

Thus Zambia’s new Constitution may require other supporting details and mechanisms to make its parts smooth, fair, and sustainable.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and peace issues. He has been on the MA Peace Studies programme of University of Bradford, England.

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GCB, December 2015/January 2016