The outcome of the April 24, local government by-elections where the ruling Patriotic Front scooped the majority of seats has come as a surprise to some people. They are wondering why a suffering population would still give a vote to a political party that has caused them so much misery.
Well, we are not surprised. This was expected and it is very likely going to happen again in 2021 if stakeholders don’t open their eyes. The bitter truth that we need to accommodate is that, if there is one political party today that knows how to win elections in Zambia, it is the Patriotic Front.
In saying so, we are not suggesting that the PF is the most popular party. We are not saying Zambians love PF so much that they would like it to continue in power. That is far from the truth. Our observation is that the PF has only one agenda – to win elections. No matter what it takes, their goal is to win any poll that comes their way.
They have employed all the dirty tricks that one can think of, ranging from vote buying and bribing electoral officers to intimidating voters and beating opponents during campaigns. They don’t care what method is used to defeat their rivals, as long as it delivers victory.
It’s like a street fight where there are no rules; it doesn’t matter whether you bite your opponent or stab them with a screwdriver, a win is a win. This is what the PF is doing; winning elections by hook or crook.
As far as the PF is concerned, there is nothing that would be more humiliating than losing an election. That is why they have abandoned government activities to focus on brainwashing and threatening voters ahead of 2021, and it is working.
The people of Lusaka and Copperbelt may think the PF has completely lost popularity to the extent that no sane Zambian has time to listen to their lies. They may think that there is no need for voter education because people cannot be influenced by material things, but that is a misjudgement. The PF is aware that it has lost ground in the urban settlements. That is why they have gone to rural areas where a brand new bicycle is valued like a Mercedes Benz. PF will not waste time giving those bicycles to Kanyama residents in Lusaka because they know that they would still lose an election despite the material gifts.
This is what should worry well-meaning Zambians. The outcome of these elections demonstrate that there has been no meaningful civic education preached to the people in the rural areas. People voted according to the donations they received during campaigns while the rest succumbed to intimidation.
This is the only logical explanation as to why farmers whose crops died due to lack of fertilizer, would still vote for the ruling party. Material campaigns are working for the PF in rural areas and the Electoral Commission of Zambia has no capacity to draw the line between bribery and empowerment.
And talking about the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the just ended by-elections have proved that the institution has been captured. ECZ has no capacity to conduct free and fair elections, devoid of intimidation and violence – both in the PF and UPND strongholds. The fact that the institution relies on the Zambia Police to prevent violence-related electoral malpractice is a huge disadvantage to the opposition political parties because the police are under the command of the ruling party.
This is why Zambians expected that powerful international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would be objective in their operations for the benefit of citizens. But we have a UN agency that is headed by an individual with partisan interests. What transpired in almost all the wards where cadres took control of polling stations and threatened the police is exactly what is contained in the 2016 elections report that madam Janet Rogan is sitting on.
We wonder what madam Rogan’s position is on these by-elections. Is she satisfied that they were conducted under a free and fair environment? Is she happy with the militarisation of political cadres who have usurped the power of the State police? If she if not, what is she doing about it? Why has she not issued a statement to condemn the political parties involved?
The UN must be worried with what is going on in Zambia. At the rate we are going, our country will soon be ignited into civil strife, and we are already at the verge of it. We now have a political environment in this country where in order to win elections, a political party must have a very powerful militia to count the votes on behalf of the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
That is why we have a scenario where the PF has won with a landslide victory in their strongholds and the UPND equally won with similar margins in their regions. Any other party that wants to win elections in these regions will have to outnumber PF and UPND cadres and equip them with superior weapons.
Truly, we are a very strange Christian nation; a nation that prays before going to hack one another; a country where democracy means choosing how you wish to die, either by disease and poverty or by bullets and machetes. Shame on those who are celebrating victory from this hacking competition called elections.