We have observed that the Patriotic Front has switched into full campaign mode. The chief executive of the ruling party, Mr Davies Mwila, and his campaign mobilization team are toiling from province to province trying to recruit members. Even President Edgar Lungu has openly declared that campaigns have started. He has realized that citizens mean business when they say 2021 is too far for them to wait.

Time is running out for the ruling PF, its leadership has now seen the unfavourable political footing in the country. That is why everything that the Patriotic Front is doing now has a bearing on 2021. Decisions that the government is now making are based on the ruling party’s desire for re-election. All projects being implemented now are campaign-related. It’s about votes more than anything else.

This is by far going to be the longest campaign trail the country has ever seen. Stakes are high in the 2021 general elections. It’s now all about votes more than anything else. There is panic in the PF camp; the leadership is seeing bad signs written everywhere they look. Every attempt to fix the economy only exacerbates it. Instead of ending load shedding, they have sparked township riots and protests.

What is worse is that the ruling party is not healing from its internal conflicts. The bitterness among aggrieved members is getting more and more ugly as time flies by. The youths have turned to WhatsApp to send their voice podcasts. It’s like this is when they have discovered that they can actually broadcast voice notes using the social media platform.

When you listen to what these PF youths are saying in their voice messages, you can understand why the party leadership is sweating. After some PF youths attacked Chishimba Kambwili’s supporters at Lusaka Central Police, other PF youths vented their anger through podcasts, rebuking their bosses in the party over their greediness.

This is the awkward position that the PF has found itself in. Lusaka has ditched the ruling party even without the opposition being allowed to hold campaign rallies to recruit. Copperbelt is worse as evidenced by the loss of the Roan parliamentary seat to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The Head of State knows that his government has made so many blunders which, if not watered down, can easily lead to regime change. That is why he has marshalled his party officials to embark on a mitigation campaign; they are trying to launder themselves to the voters before the opposition visits them.

But the police must not be partisan to restrict the campaigns to PF alone. If campaigns have started, as President Lungu has declared, it is time to start levelling the playing field. Voters must begin to see opposition leaders featuring on ZNBC news. We must not hear of police permits being denied when it is the opposition seeking clearance.

We expect the police to allow the UPND, NDC, MMD, DP and whoever is remaining in FDD, to travel around the country and meet voters the same way Mr Davies Mwila is doing. Whatever permit has been given to the PF leadership to campaign must be extended to the opposition so that people can hear all voices. That is what democracy entails.

The police must not stop the opposition from doing what the PF is doing. Since the party in power has opted to abandon work in their offices to focus on the re-election campaign, political rallies must be allowed to go ahead without the PF hindering their competitors. We would like to see professionalism among the men and women in uniform.