By Laura Miti
As I write this, there are hooting cars blaring out PF celebratory music outside. God help us, it is going to be a long day! But yes, PF won the Lusaka Mayoral election. Very few people imagined they would not, so, there is no story there. But have no doubt, there is lots else to discuss about yesterday’s vote!
This is my reading of it.
Firstly, it is that Lusaka, especially Lusaka grassroots, has turned its back on the ruling party. My goodness, the PF spent money in this election. It felt like they blew more than what was spent by the Electoral Commission and all the other participating parties, combined. I mean, from the noise outside, they still are spending – now in a winner’s festival. It is obscene that kind of expenditure in such a struggling economy, but that is a whole separate discussion. The point is the PF threw money at people, and the people stayed at home, quite annoying the President who, typically, could not keep his feelings to himself. He complained about voters “eating” his money and then going to the market instead of the polls, come Thursday 27. As someone who called me last night put it, given the astronomical resources put into the campaign by the ruling party, what happened yesterday was not apathy, but a boycott.
So then, if the everyday Zambians, who swept PF to power in 2011, are turning their backs on the ruling party with its corruption and poor service delivery, the UPND, should ecstatically happy right now, shouldn’t they? Having for years been the undisputed alternative, the biggest opposition party should be celebrating that Lusaka, in its masses, refused to turn up to reward PF for bribing them yesterday.
Well, my view is that, if the UPND in its collective is happy, they need all their heads examined. As I see it, it is our biggest opposition party that should actually be the most worried after yesterday. The thing is, it would be expected that when voters turn away from the PF, they should be moving in significant numbers to the natural alternative, UPND. After all, by the way they tell it, they would be in office right now, if the PF had not stolen two consecutive elections from them. This move to the UPND though, by what we saw in Lusaka yesterday, is not happening. The question is, why? Why did voters who refused to vote for PF, not turn up for the UPND? I could list several reasons, but I am lank tired of repeating myself to both the PF and the UPND. I will just say to the UPND that, the fact that when PF voters stayed at home, you still could not bring out your own constituency to give you what should have been a runaway victory, should frighten you. It means you are not connecting with your own millions of voters and then certainly failing to win over those disaffected with the PF. In short, and as I have said often, UPND has failed to offer anything that is understood as much different from what the PF represents.
What does that mean, then? Well, simply that if Zambia is to get rid of the PF, as it must if it is to remain a going concern after 2021, then those of us sick to the stomach with what this party of lawlessness is doing to our beloved country will have to find each other. After yesterday, I am very convinced that the majority Zambians do not want PF nor UPND in their current forms. If either changed completely – maybe they could convince citizens to think again. Let’s say PF got rid of our big headache called Edgar Lungu – a man who seems to think his calling, as President, is to destroy all that is good about us, maybe PF could redeem itself. As for the UPND, can they reconfigure themselves into a party that does not feel like it is made up of people hungrily waiting to take over PF, so that they can be everything we hate in that PF? Can they?
Maybe the two can. But for now, though, I think wisdom is for we Zambians to not act like all our umbilical cords were buried at the secretariats of these two parties – to quote our Great Leader. Why are we agreeing to be stuck in an either-or situation, when the two alternatives are essentially mirror images of each other – except, of course, at the top?
We can get rid of both PF and UPND or force them to change. I am very sure that there are enough of us who desperately want something different. My question is, how will find each other? Not by the way to create a political party behind some other sod who just wants to be President. All we need to do is create a movement that ensures that no one wins 2021, without genuinely addressing that which matters to Zambians. I think that should be the mission of everyone who loves this country. We just cannot surrender and die – as it seems these two elephants want us to.”