Excellence is never the result of chance. It is always the outcome of careful planning, earnest effort, and astute execution; it is the sensible decision among numerous options. And it is your choice, not chance, that defines your fate, as Greek philosopher Aristotle famously said.
In retrospect, Aristotle’s writing accurately depicts the decision confronting a coalition of unemployed, angry, and hungry Zambian youths determined to shape the trajectory of their destiny following the 2021 Presidential elections. They were emphatic in their choice by a landslide vote, and they reminded us, if subtly, that the recently concluded elections were never about ECL vs HH, but about ECL and A&H (Anger &Hunger) were on the ballot.
Against the backdrop of a reckless borrowing spree that burdened the national fiscus which in turn gave rise to massive unemployment, run-away inflation, and a soaring cost of living among other factors, the PF’s various infrastructure developments such as construction of hospitals, new tertiary institutions new road networks and energy expansion projects failed dismally to rekindle its dwindling fortunes.
It was this coalition of the walking wounded that conspired to dispatch the PF from power and this they executed with much aplomb – whichever way one looks at this, a difference of 1 million in the total vote tally is a jaw dropping feat for an opposition party. Add to this, a tame protestation by the outgoing Presidency of a rigged election, it becomes all too surreal. For some PF and UPND faithful, this shock has yet to sink in.
Make no mistake, this synopsis is hardly an attempt to downplay the resilience and patience of Hakainde Hichilema – Zambia’s own political ‘Albert Einstein’. He has been nothing but tenacious. For more than 16 years, he continued to provide critical checks and balances from the opposition trenches. That his former Vice Presidents GBM and Canicious Banda and more recently party faithful Charles Kakoma among others, deserted him just when his ascent to the Presidency was almost in sight is the measure of his character.
For this businessman cum politician, his political trajectory has finally come full circle. HH is now a politician and in politics, there is no such thing as humility. Lest we not forget that politicians can be pretentious as well as good liars. However hard he has tried to conceal his relief; this victory is sweet and one that he will savour for years to come – for a possible loss could have easily consigned him to a scrap heap of political history.
Is this the beginning of the end of PF?
History is unforgiving to losers – as precedence has shown and the future is often crueler to the vanquished. If the fate of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and that of the United National Independent Party (UNIP) were a proxy, then it is fair to suggest that the PF is on a slow march into political oblivion.
Aside from the fact that both these two parties contested in the just ended elections, MMD exists in name only while UNIP is nothing but a mere empty shell of a liberation movement sculptured in struggle credentials.
As a political cult birthed in grievance politics, PF has always lacked an ideological identity – hence the lumpen mantra ‘More money in your pockets’ – whatever that means. In fact, PF was Micheal Sata and Micheal Sata was PF. Thus, it may well be correct to suggest that Sata’s death only served to send the party into a downward spiral and Lungu has now become the captain that sunk the ship to ground.
If there are any lessons to the UPND from the PF’s impending gradual but assuring demise is that populism rules. Yet with that comes responsibility. If abused that responsibility can lead to both economic and political destruction. That Zambia became the first nation to default on its foreign debt in the Covid – era is telling of populist but destructive economic decisions.
In the absence of a structured succession plan, the PF will likely tear itself to pieces and the true greens will now begin to emerge from their shadows – you hope not to scavenge on a carcass. Stripped of levers of power and by extention political and economic patronage, Edgar Lungu is now at his weakest point.
As the glue that held the party, he will likely take time off to lick his wounds and therefore might have no role in efforts to rebuild his party. PF now looks like an emperor robbed off its loins, and those that were previously cast into the political wilderness must surely be readying for a comeback; not to rebuild but to put a sword into a mortally wounded party.
The author is an avid scholar of political history and philosophy. He has since stopped eating game meat and become a vegetarian. The only thing he supports is Kabwe Warriors and Liverpool. For feedback, contact him on [email protected]