The prerequisite for one to take part in the elective process in Zambia is citizenship status. For a person to be considered a citizen of Zambia and eligible to vote, he or she must possess a legally issued green National Registration Card. This is a document that eligible citizens are required to produce before they can be registered as voters in the on-going voter registration exercise.
Unfortunately, we are hearing reports from the borders of Zambia that some Malawians in the East and some Congolese in the North are being ferried by agents of the ruling Patriotic Front to enter the country and register as voters ahead of the 2021 general elections.
We have not heard this from third reported sources; this information is coming directly from members of the Patriotic Front who are involved in the exercise at the instruction of their seniors in the party. These people are concerned that what they are being asked to do is wrong and they are worried that such acts, if not stopped, will not only affect the legitimacy of the election outcome next year but also endanger the country’s security.
This is a serious concern. We know that in all general elections, there is always an attempt by the party in power to register foreigners, and the Patriotic Front is not the first party to engage in this activity; the MMD did this for many years and documented evidence, including confessions from Malawians, are in public domain. In 2016, President Edgar Lungu’s daughter Tasila and the infamous Jay Jay Banda went far and wide on the border of Zambia in Eastern Province, giving campaign materials to foreigners and there were no consequences for this, but that does not make it legal.
We find it ironic that the party in power has more confidence in foreigners than the citizens of Zambia. We find it awkward that the governing party would not trust the people it has been governing for the past five years. Why is this the case? Why is it that the Patriotic front feels safer in the hands of foreign voters than in the hands of native Zambians? What is it that they have done to the citizens of this country, which is giving them this level of desperation?
Our opinion is that the Patriotic Front, like the MMD before them, have come to the awakening that it’s about time for them to reap what they sowed. At some point, this reality seemed too far-fetched. When the citizens of this country complained, they were called disgruntled youths, others were called idiots. Those who raised a finger to point at wrongdoing were arrested and detained. Look at what they did to those who dared to protest against bad governance! They were mercilessly treated.
The Patriotic Front is on record telling citizens never to complain or talk against corruption; they banned citizens from complaining about the depreciation of the currency. Hungry citizens who were found buying more than two bags of mealie meal from shopping malls were picked up by police and detained under the instructions of ministers.
In short, the ruling party has never shown interest in listening to the cries of the people. Anyone who does not support their party has been treated as an enemy. But time has caught up with them. Time is no longer on their side. The rural vote that they are counting on does not seem to have the numbers that they were anticipating – people chose to go into the bush to gather caterpillars instead of registering to vote. So, they have now resorted to recruiting foreigners. They don’t want the 2021 election to be decided by the population that faced the wrath of load shedding.
This is what we have been warning the Patriotic Front and its leadership on. We warned them that these citizens, who are being treated like squatters in their own country, would judge them harshly when the time comes. The mistake politicians make is that when they are in power, they feel invincible, but power ultimately belongs to the people.
The bad news to the PF is that if the people of Zambia decide that they should go, no amount of foreigners will change that. In fact, the same foreigners they are recruiting also remember how they were treated when they attempted to smuggle mealie meal into their countries, so there is no guarantee that the people they are ferrying across the border will vote for them, just like there is no guarantee that those who are receiving bicycles will vote for them. Judgement day is knocking!