There are many reasons why the Patriotic Front is likely to retain power in 2021. The institutions tasked to manage free, fair and credible elections are completely compromised and too weak to uphold democracy. On the other hand, the opposition doesn’t seem to have discovered a workable formula that can outsmart the ruling party’s crookedness during elections.
But what makes the PF even more likely to win the next general elections is the observation made by Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba. This man says the Patriotic Front will win the 2021 elections because Zambians have embraced the ‘sebana wikute’ culture, where citizens are willing to face political humiliation, as long as their tummies are satisfied.
“There is a mismatch between economic performance and voting patterns in Zambia because of poverty. You know, poverty is a very, very huge problem and that is why the whole globe has pushed their efforts to try and eradicate it. ‘Insala nga yacilamo, ilaleta umusebanya’ (too much hunger brings shame), the approach is ‘sebana wikute’. The embarrassment doesn’t matter as long as you get something out of it. You know, people now can afford to do all sorts of things, including embarrassing themselves, but provided their stomach is full. It’s not just politicians; it’s a lot of Zambians doing this,” said Sinkamba.
“So, the PF will win the 2021 elections because people are hungry! They will win, provided that at the time of elections, they give voters the chitenge material, some food items and money. You know, we have reduced elections to that kind of threshold; where you provide chitenge, you provide shake-shake, you provide T-shirts and you sing and dance, then you are the best.”
Mr Sinkamba is absolutely right. The PF has been winning and will continue to win elections, not because voters think it has solutions to the problems facing the country, but because it has enough money to buy butter and ‘shinga’ every voter.
Since voting is based on ‘sebanya wikute’, the PF has realized that all they have to do is to strangle the economy and ensure that the only viable business left in this country is joining the ruling party. We cannot give a better example of what we are trying to say than pointing at Mr Costain Chilala, a respected central province-based commercial farmer who threw away his dignity to join the PF campaigns in Chilanga. Sebana wikute!
Every one has to survive by working for the PF today. If you oppose the government, the economy opposes you. You may work for a private company, but if you are heard saying something bad about the Patriotic Front, you risk losing your job, you become a liability to the company. If you insult the PF, your landlord may evict you because he built the house from government deals. The friends you drink with will be forced to stop picking your calls because you are tempering with the big buyer.
As citizens of Zambia, we find ourselves in a predicament which dictates that we begin to see things from the Patriotic Front’s viewpoint.
In the eyes of the Patriotic Front, it is unrealistic and naïve to think that good ends can be achieved without resorting to dubious means. In these circumstances the Patriotic Front finds it self-indulgent, irresponsible and morally wrong to consider doing the right thing that has consequential bearings to its hold on power.
What is necessary to preserve the interests of our political leaders takes precedence over all other considerations. Necessity knows no laws and morality has no place in the mission: “get rich or die trying”. In the life of a PF and government official, the end will always justify the means. They justify force and violence, cruelty and deceit as a lesser evil.
Those in the Patriotic Front believe that politicians like Hakainde Hichilema and Chishimba Kambwili would be dangerous in State House, but they don’t want the citizens to make that decision. They have decided on behalf of all the people that only them are good for Zambia and they will do everything, including killing, to preserve their rule. Money is not a problem in PF; the problem is who to spend it on.
Today, citizens have realised that it is more rewarding to believe in politicians who lie, take shortcuts and look out only for their own personal interests. Zambians have figured out that the danger in putting faith in politicians who keep their words, practice honesty and integrity, respect one another’s life and property, is that they may never make it to State House.
Arbitrary detentions, rights to a fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, freedom of movement, association and assembly have been dismissed as threats to the Patriotic Front’s grip on power.
If we envision the future of our country from those eyes, we will make better decisions, not at the time of voting, but starting today.
It will be very stupid on the part of Zambian citizens to hand the power and treasury back to honest criminals who have declared their resolve to use public funds in building their empires.
If we, as citizens of this country make the same mistakes again and choose to join the destructive PF movement at the expense of our integrity, then we deserve to be cheated, used and dumped again in 2021. Those who have adopted sebana wikute must know that whatever they eat from the PF, no matter how delicious, will not increase their days on Earth. They will answer every call of nature, the more they eat, the sooner the call.