HH’s palm has pointed ahead since assuming Anderson Mazoka’s mantle as UPND President, but every election cycle it is reversed to rest on his cheek and wipe his tears, wondering what just transpired. The guy claims of being the finest business executive, but if his leadership of UPND is any indication, fortune, not strategic thought, makes one a billionaire. Just look at Donald Trump!
The UPND has been in opposition for two decades, but since 2006, the Party has lacked a sustainable strategy of taking power from the two most corrupt and incompetent regimes. Surely Mazoka is in tears wondering how his Party that came so close to winning the December 27, 2001 election (won by Levy Mwanawasa’s MMD) lost to PF–the Party that came from nowhere. Mazoka could understand the 2006 defeat, but the 2008, 2011, 2015, and 2016 defeats were simply illogical. Yet in 2021, UPND is begging Zambians to give HH another chance!
The UPND messaging has been chaotic; “HH knows the business world”, “the economy”, “workers,” corruption”, “chimbwi has no plan”, “free education”, “Bally will fix it” and now “HH will rescue Zambia” are among the many messaging problems that characterize UPND. The Party has failed to sell HH to Zambians with a sustainable message. Sata had one; HH has none but everything.
The UPND lacks political strategy; repeating the same plan over and over again but expecting a different outcome. The alliance with PF and MMD vomits like GBM and Nevers Mumba didn’t deliver either, so why do the same thing over again? Under his leadership, the Party has had many years to build sustainable alliances but failed; confirming accusations that UPND is a one-man Kantemba. The number of high-profile UPND members leaving him is not helping either.
Each election cycle, we are swamped with large crowds of UPND cadres in HH-styled red attires. Social media has magnified these gatherings in cities; but is this new? In addition to its traditional strongholds, the UPND has been competitive on the Copperbelt, Lusaka, and Central Province. This year the Party believes it has gained extra support in urban areas, overshadowing the PF. The popular city slogan, “We want Change, ” however, is generic and not UPND’s–every opposition party has a claim to it. Zambians sympathetic to the opposition cause are apt to join the chant on the streets. To UPND supporters, such chants translate in HH votes; they don’t.
But so is the power of mob psychology; people are likely to shout “Forward” when surrounded by UPND cadres, and “Pamaka” or “Alebwekelapo” when surrounded by PF cadres. It is a survival strategy in the nation where two well-known violent political parties are engaged in bloody campaigns. Since opposing voices are victimized, when PF is in Matero, Zambians will shout Lungu. When UPND is in Matero, the same people will shout HH. In addition to poverty, the ugly UPND, PF, and other political attires can be found in the same household; why buy if I can get it for free? The real gauge of popularity will only be known on election day when people cast their votes in secret.
The UPND strategists, in their wisdom, are relying primarily on the urban vote–a bad approach. This election will be won in rural Zambia, which is why Lungu and the PF have abandoned cities in favour of rural communities. Economic stress has the greatest influence on city people. Furthermore, the city vote is shared by several parties–nearly all presidential contenders are hoping for a portion.
UPND strategists are now concentrating their efforts on deposing PF from power. PF is an important player, but he is not the only one. It’s similar to participating in the World Cup. Of course, you may tailor your tactics to defeat Brazil or France. However, you must first qualify by defeating inferior teams. Even so, you must research all teams. Soccer is unpredictable–even big teams can be knocked out in the first round. Like soccer, the electorate is unpredictable.
HH shouldn’t assume all Zambians are set to only vote for Lungu or him–rather he must campaign against Mumba, M’membe, Mwamba, Kalaba, and many others. He must also respond to their attacks on him as a tribalist, loner, and greedy as Socialist Party President and UPND founder Mazoka’s in Law Fred M’membe recently told Zambians. According to M’membe, HH is a greedy politician who should not be entrusted with power. As we move toward elections, HH should expect such attacks to increase since these parties want to win too. HH has never run in an election of this nature before, thus he needs to return to the drawing table.
Nonetheless, there is much to be said for tiny party cadres who are ready to walk door to house and even match the streets. They are oblivious to the fact that they have a mountain to move, but they are eager to win. In terms of religious sociology, I would compare them to members of religious groups. They are deeply committed to their cause and will almost certainly vote on election day. In this sense, Presidential candidates from the Socialist Party, the Democratic Party, and other small parties are expected to be competitive in this election, to the point that they might derail the UPND’s hopes of entering Plot 1.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. When my people dance akalela and yell “Forward,” they really mean “Backwards.” Come August 12, is UPND ku Wire?