Although Mr Andyford Mayele Banda looks like the younger version of nyama soya, his political strategy and vision for this country is far more captivating and tangible than that of fourth Republican president and a few other political leaders that we have.

In fact, we can speak with more confidence now than ever before that this man is a reasonable third force that Zambians must pay attention to. We will explain where we are drawing our opinion from a little later, but first let us remind our readers of what we said when Mr Mayele’s magic caught our attention.

The People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) is not a clear threat to the Patriotic Front ahead of the 2021 general elections, but it is a group of youths worth listening to. The president of this political party sounds like he has the correct measure of reasoning that can transform the mindset of Zambians.

Those who are still shocked that Mr Mayele came out fourth in the 2016 general elections, beating former justice minister Wynter Kabimba, Tilyenji Kaunda of the legendary UNIP, outspoken Saviour Chishimba and of course Peter Sinkamba of the Green Party; should take interest to listen to his debates.

Given the resources that some of these big political parties have, Mr Mayele can perform real magic. What is more encouraging is that he is actually the youngest of all the presidential candidates who took part in the last general elections. At only 35 then, the PAC president and his broke leadership proved that what it takes to win an election is the right message and the right packaging.

“The pictures that we have seen of the PF branded cars and bicycles with the face of Edgar Lungu, plus the distribution of branded books is a clear indication that the PF wants to use money and power to win the next elections. If we want to play their game, I don’t think we can make it. If we are going to brand books, brand bicycles, brand vehicles and all sorts of things, it will be difficult for us because we don’t have that kind of [dirty] money. As PAC, we believe that we need to devise other means of removing the PF because, clearly, they have failed.”

This is the reasoning of Mr Mayele and we can’t agree more. In the just ended Lusaka Mayoral election, only one candidate had campaign stickers on every roadside tree, not to mention the billboards; and he won. In fact this was the most predictable election ever, and we don’t see the PF losing major elections in the foreseeable future. The question is; why has victory become more obvious for the PF in these elections?

Miles Sampa did not win because the people of Lusaka believe that he will bring them free WiFi Internet, he won because the voters didn’t buy into the opposition message that they should eat the PF money but vote otherwise. This strategy worked for the PF in 2011, but clearly, it is not working for the opposition today.

This is the reason why we are eulogising Mr Mayele again because in our opinion, his mayoral candidate Petersen who came out third is the real winner of this election. He traversed the city without money or campaign materials to distribute, but he made an impact. PAC picked a popular, energetic and saleable candidate, that’s what strategists do. We congratulate him for that. Meanwhile, the other opposition losers are complaining about voter apathy and blaming the loss on a cocktail of rigging allegations. We don’t buy any of it!

As the country’s biggest and best funded opposition party, the UPND has a massive responsibility to provide not only alternative leadership but to be charismatic, energetic and innovative in their politics. Crying foul over voter apathy may comfort the egos of the failing party, but it will neither hide their incompetence and complacence nor win them any sympathies from anyone.

Free from violence, the Mayoral election was a golden opportunity for the UPND to show the nation that they have the teeth to bite back at PF through the ballot and bring about major changes in the process. This squandered opportunity and the manner in which they lost means now more than ever questions must be asked of HH and his team’s strategies during elections.

UPND and the rest must ask themselves where things are going wrong. Even if we were to believe for a second that the PF rigged the Mayoral election, we don’t think the UPND should be losing by more than 50 per cent. This is embarrassing, and it is for this reason that we are talking about a third force.

We truly feel sorry for Mr Hichilema because, like we have said before, it is not in doubt that he would make a better national leader than the incumbent Head of State. But whether he has failed to lead the UPND to prosperity or the UPND has failed to sell him, is a story for another day.

Rather, what we would like to suggest to our fellow citizens is that they must open their hearts, eyes and ears to something new. Those who want regime change, on grounds that the PF has failed, must not remain fixated on one opposition voice.

We agree with Laura Miti when she says Zambia needs a revolution led by the poor and oppressed who are feeling the real pain of the PF leadership. The middleclass have so many avenues of sharing the loot with this thieving government. That’s why they vote with their stomachs.

This voter apathy, to us, meant only one thing. The majority of citizens have now realized that casting a vote is not helping them solve their misery. So they are waiting for a revolutionary leader to ignite their energy and marshal them into a movement that will lead to regime change. Right now, we are beginning to doubt the UPND’s capacity to do that.