Friday, 7 November 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu


The presidential by-election is over and the MMD is celebrating but whether it is from genuine victory or a stolen election, it is difficult to say.

What is clear though is that this election has given the nation a glimpse of the regionalism that is slowly but surely creeping into the nation’s body politic.

It was not difficult to see that MMD’s Rupiah Banda, PF’s Michael Sata and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema did particularly well from their regions although a simplistic argument would state that the particular political parties are not strong in some of those areas.

Sata had a very strong showing in most Bemba-speaking regions of the Copperbelt, Luapula and Northern Province while Banda had a strong showing in Nyanja-speaking areas such as the Eastern Province and parts of Lusaka Province, and, as usual, Hichilema swept the slates in Southern Province and parts of Western Province.

For some reason, Banda scored very well in Western and North-western Provinces but whether that was due to the strong presence of the MMD in those areas or simply the lack of candidates hailing from those parts, is difficult to say.

But whatever the case, if voting will be regionally determined in future elections, Zambia risks serious fragmentation along regional lines which will ultimately mean that regions with lesser populations than others many never provide a president.

This, however, is not to say that political parties themselves should not do much in terms of selling themselves to other areas. Apart from the MMD, other parties do not appear to have any serious presence in other parts of the country. It is not surprising that some of the opposition parties that took part in the election did not even have election agents at polling stations in areas where they have few members or do not exist at all.

Most of the members of the national management committee of the UPND are, to a large extent, Tonga and similarly, most of central committee members of the PF are Bemba. Sakwiba Sikota’s ULP is no exception. Most of its senior members share the same ethnic roots as the party president.

This is what, rightly or wrongly, gives an impression that some of the political parties are tribally based entities while a few others are purely family affairs.

As these parties lick the wounds of the loss of the election just gone by, there is absolute need for them to cloth themselves up in true national colours by recruiting members from all across the country.

Other oppositions which seem to have a national character or a semblance of it, such as the FDD and UNIP seem to be in a politically cryogenic state and are slowly warming up to the MMD it will not be surprising when they dissolve themselves to join the ruling party.

Moaning over the loss in last week’s election will not do. The solution lies in these political parties reaching out to all Zambians. It is not enough for Hichilema to go to Ilamba one morning, hug villagers and think “Lo and behold, I am very popular and I will win the election.”

Similarly, it is erroneous for Sata, airborne and blitzing through the countryside, address half hour rallies and latter claim that he is popular enough to win the election.

Hichilema, Sata and HP’s General Godfrey Miyanda need to create structures on the ground throughout the country for them to stand a better chance of winning future national elections.

So much about the opposition but if indeed it is true that the MMD rigged the elections to favour its candidate, Rupiah Banda, it defeats the whole purpose of democracy because the citizens are the ones that should chose who should rule them.

A leadership forced on the citizenry is bound to face resistance from the people and what is even more serious is the fact that Banda, like his predecessor, the late Levy Mwanawasa, has been rejected in major urban areas where most of the business of governance is conducted.

Mwanawasa spent most of his time trying to win acceptance from the people in areas where he had received fewer votes. Banda may face the same problem.


A few days before last week’s elections, some prominent economists issued what in political parlance are alarming statements about investors holding back their investments and others withdrawing their money in treasury bills because of what they termed an uncertain political situation.

The economists attributed the uncertainty to one or two candidates who have been demanding that investors should learn to respect Zambian laws in the way the deal with their local workers.

Yes, may be that, but the bigger picture is that the global economy has for the last one year been in free fall and countries like Britain are now officially classified as being in recession. I am sure that to genuine and truly international investors, rather than fly by night investors who are the common type in Zambia, the political situation was the least of their worries.

The world economic outlook is so bad that the nemesis of the third world countries, the IMF and its twin sister, the World Bank, are themselves said to be broke with fears that they may not have money, in the very near future, to dole out to countries that need help.

Some big international financial companies have collapsed in recent weeks as a result of the economic meltdown in the west which has also affected the Asian markets such that there have been partial nationalisations and mergers in the financial sectors as a result.

The two economists forgot to mention that the prices of copper on the world market are going down the chute at a seriously alarming rate while OPEC members met a few days go to discuss the possibility of reducing production of oil to force prices upwards.

In a scenario like this, may be it is just good luck that Sata, Hichilema and Miyanda lost the election. Economics history graduate, Rupiah Banda will have to deal with these issues before we see the Bank of Zambia resorting to printing money on photocopying paper like one country in the neighbourhood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please set the record straight UPND did not won in any constituency in Western Province it won in two constituencies in North Western Province.