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PF Preparing for Elections – Window Dressing Won’t WorkBy Chibembe Nyalugwe on 19 Feb 2018
The recent reshuffle in the PF Government and other appointment seem to clearly indicate that Edgar Lungu is preparing to re-run in 2021. However this cosmetic surgery alone will not shield the EL camp or the PF from suffering a serious political blow of Zambia’s 2021 Presidential and General elections.
Dora Siliya becomes the ‘face’ of Government, a very smart move: Dora is a very astute politician who knows how to engage (maybe dupe?) and convince Zambians. She will bring life and charisma to that office, she has the ‘soft’ touch! However we should not expect any fundamental policy change or move to greater press freedom; access to information or equitable access to Government media. Although the new Minister for Information and Broadcasting may try flex some ‘soft’ muscle and make cosmetic changes at ZNBC, Daily Mail, Times of Zambia etc., her appointment is clearly a move towards stepping up rhetoric and politicking… it’s setting the stage for campaigning.
The removal of Felix Mutati is also indicative of a party or candidate that is preparing for an intense political battle. There have been calls among certain interest groups (that EL wants to assuage) in the PF that the MMD Representative (and possible presidential candidate?) Felix Mutati should be removed. Bringing in a Lungu (more than a PF) loyalist in the form of Margaret Mwanakatwe again reinforces the ‘EL campaign team’.
The transfer of Japhen Mwakalombe to the Copperbelt is also intended to have a close ally and more seasoned politician at the helm of Government on the Copperbelt where CK and others are seriously rocking the PF Boat. I am inclined to think that Japhen’s TORs are heavily focused towards shoring up the position of the EL camp within PF as well as trying to re-build support for the PF on the Copperbelt.
Wasn’t Mumbi Phiri (another strong ally of the Edgar Lungu camp) recently nominated to the National Assembly…..again reinforcing EL’s political campaign positions? Edgar Lungu and his strategists are strategically placing their loyalists at critical points, in preparation for internal (within the PF) and then national (2021 Presidential and General election) political battle.
As part of this strategy the Lungu camp seems to be systematically removing (or facilitating the removal) of possible and potential presidential opponents within the PF. The firing and subsequent expulsion of CK and the ‘resignation’ of Kalaba are aimed at ensuring that the Lungu led camp come out victorious in any PF Party leadership contest.
The EL campaign team and the PF party leadership must however learn from our neighbour South Africa. They must see how increasing levels of corruption, bad governance, indifference to opposition and differing voices and opinions has led to the tipping point for the removal of Jacob Zuma. The ANC dug in its heals to support Zuma, disregarding clear evidence of corruption, abuse of office and a failure to effectively govern, including: the Nkandla scandal; GUPTA Gate; The 1990 Arms deal; the Russia Nuclear deal etc. Highly questionable decisions on SOEs such as SAA, ESKOM and the firing of Pravin Gordhan as Finance Minister in 2017 all raised serious question about whether Zuma was acting in the national or personal interest. He was basically seen as both inept and the ‘hub’ for state corruption.
The Lungu camp and the PF need to note that eventually Zuma became an intolerable liability and that every day that Zuma continued as the face of the ANC they were giving votes to the opposition parties and eroding the credibility and history of their own party. The ANC that previously supported its leader to the hilt was suddenly prepared to side with the opposition in a no-confidence vote in Zuma. They realised that sticking with the face of Zuma would continue associating the ANC with corruption and inept governance; this would either loose them the 2019 general election or seriously erode their majority in parliament.
This should sound very familiar: window dressing works up to a point; like Zuma was for the ANC; Edgar Lungu is the clear face of the PF today. This face is associated with serious scandal and corruption including Million $ fire tenders; an unbelievable US$ 1.2 BN price tag for the Ndola – Lusaka dual carriageway. NAPSA Chief Firing; highly questionable decisions at IDC etc. The frustration with and disengagement from the PF party is growing and will certainly reach tipping point this is a matter of WHEN, not IF.
Even if the EL camp succeed in clinging to power in the PF and manage to surmount the significant challenges, including the Constitutionality of his candidature in the 2021 Presidential election, they face a dim future.
Either the PF will itself realise this (as the ANC did with Zuma) and they get rid of EL and his camp internally or the light at the end of the tunnel for the PF will be a train.
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