Since the beginning of the month of August 2014, the political environs in Zambia have been bombarded by a barrage of misguided outbursts from the movement for multiparty Democracy (MMD) in particular from the National Secretary, Mr. Muhabi Lungu.
These outbursts have been targeted at the United Party for National Development (UPND) to disrupt its growing momentum and to derail it from its clear path to presidential electoral victory whenever the polls are held.
We have carefully and critically examined these outbursts and find them to be hollow as they lack depth of analysis and are economical with the truth.
In this statement, we wish to deal with Mr. Muhabi Lungu’s misplaced attacks and political hallucinations because as Muhabi says, ‘silence implies guilt on our part.’
“Mad people” statement attributed to HH
The blatant lies being peddled by Muhabi on this issue are most unfortunate and do not befit a chief executive officer of a political party of the stature of the MMD. During his press briefing of Tuesday 5th August 2014, Muhabi gave a lecture on political maturity. In his lecture, Muhabi stated that it is a sign of political maturity to research a statement before reacting to it. He went further to state that a reaction made without research would be an ‘unreasonable reaction.’
As I reproduce text messages between the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema and the MMD President Dr. Nevers Mumba, I call on the readers to make judgment as to whether Muhabi passes his own test on political maturity.
President Hakainde Hichilema:- “‘Mr. President Nevers Mumba, yesterday at our press briefing I made a statement meant to criticize PF (and that no normal person should vote for this party). Unfortunately, by error, I mentioned MMD in place of PF. I apologize to you my brother and the MMD at large.”
President Nevers Mumba:- “President HH, sorry for the delay in response. Tried to call back with no success. I acknowledge apology and wish to assure you that the past is behind us. Have a great weekend. Nevers.”
By deliberately trying to keep a ‘slip of the tongue’ of President Hakainde Hichilema alive in the media, Muhabi hopes to scandalize the UPND and benefit from its fall out with the public. That is a Cheap shot Ba Lungu!
Let us now examine the new philosophy on by-elections being mooted by the upper echelons of the MMD.
Muhabi in his article of 9th August, 2014, which appeared in the Post Newspaper states the following:
‘A by-election win (or loss) proves absolutely nothing and it would be folly for any party to derive a false sense of confidence from the results.’
One would be tempted to laugh, if this political submission was not so pathetic. The above submission perhaps only serves to explain how a once vibrant movement (MMD) has been turned into a monument by a visionless leadership currently at its helm.
A leadership pregnant with vision ought to know that by-elections are opportunities:
1.) For political growth
2.) To assess the strength or weakness of a political organization
3.) To assess whether a party’s message is resonating with the expectations of the electorates, among many other things.
What Muhabi would like us to believe is that, there is no correlation between mock exams results and final exam results. Muhabi would like us to believe that continuous assessments at our institutions of learning have no predictive value for the final exams. Absurdity of the highest order!
Yes we do admit that they are cases where students did well in the mock exams but failed the final exams, partly due to over confidence. This unfortunate occurrence does not dismiss the predictive value of mock exams.
It is Muhabi’s contention that past statistics from 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2011 are a more reliable guide than the most recent results in by-elections. We are of the conclusion that Muhabi arrived at such a conclusion to explain away MMD’s poor performances in by-elections.
If you cannot gauge the strength of your party using by-elections, then we wonder what else can be used since Muhabi does not provide an alternative.
If indeed it were true that by-election results prove absolutely nothing, why does the MMD participate in them?
Consider that, the MMD will ask candidates to apply on their ticket (who normally pay a fee), then the MMD will have a budget to support the activity (by-election). Then human resource will be dispatched to campaign for the candidate. Do you honestly think that the MMD will do all this to PROVE NOTHING?
Clearly the CEO of the MMD is exhibiting symptoms of acute cognitive dissonance.
To prove his faulty assertion, Muhabi cites Chilanga, Mufumbwe and Solwezi Central as examples of by-elections won by the UPND in 2010 and later lost to the MMD in the tri-partite elections of 2011.
Muhabi in his usual biased manner conveniently forgets to inform the readers that the by-elections he referred to were won under a ‘pact’ arrangement and that the pact had disintegrated by the time of the 2011 tri-partite elections.
Unless Muhabi suffers from selective amnesia, he forgot to inform the readers that during the same life of Parliament Pf won three by-elections in the north ( Kanchibiya, Mporokoso and Kasama) as a pre-cursor to them winning Northern Province. May I add that PF managed to win all the three seats during the 2011 General elections with huge margins.
Muhabi at his press briefing of 5th August 2014 claimed that, ‘UPND neither have a superior message, better values nor stronger political organization than the MMD.’
We wonder how the ‘intelligent’ Muhabi arrived at such a conclusion without an objective political test. We submit to Mr. Muhabi that a conclusion like the one he arrived at can only be arrived at after critical analysis of the most recent electoral results.
After 2011 tri-partite elections, MMD had 55 MPs and UPND had 28 MPs. In the last three (3) years, UPND has had an opportunity to increase its seat share to 33 (now 31 because of Zambezi west and Mulobezi that have been nullified). The MMD has reduced its seat share from 55 MPs to 36 MPs (practically 35 because MP for Chisamba was convicted and does not attend Parliament).
The numbers clearly show that if the downward trend for the MMD continues, MMD will soon become a political corpse incapable of growth, awaiting its sure destiny in the political graveyard.
Going by the ‘current form’ of political parties in this country, any serious political analyst cannot escape the logical conclusion that the contest for political power is between the UPND and the PF.
The MMD has slowly but surely cemented their number three (3) position in elections, even in seats they once held. Livingstone, Feira, Kafulafuta, Mpongwe and Katuba are clear examples. Mangango is soon to be added to the list!
We submit that the current MMD philosophy on by-elections is not based on fact or sound knowledge but on jealousy and envy of the momentum the UPND has gained by winning by-elections thereby increasing parliamentary representation.
The Electoral Demographic Factors
Here we will examine the so called obstacles identified by Muhabi that stand in the way of UPND Presidential election.
Before we delve into the arguments we would like to acknowledge that the Post Newspapers deliberately misquoted Muhabi in order to create an unnecessary fight between the MMD and the UPND.
This what Muhabi said according to his article published on the 9th of August, 2014.
‘I have never said that UPND can never win. However, it is extremely unlikely for the the UPND to produce this 22% upward swing within five years.’
It is Muhabi’s contention that the Presidential candidate needs to score a national minimum of 40% in order for him to win the presidency. Muhabi goes further to state that, “ a dramatic change from 18% to the wining number of 40% for the UPND in one five year election cycle with only one campaign session would be incredibly impressive….”
We would like to submit to Muhabi, that Mr. Sata polled 3% in the presidential elections of 2001 and increased his performance to 29% in the Presidential elections of 2006. This represents a percentage increase of 26% upward swing within 5 years.
So the 22% upward swing required by the UPND according to Muhabi is not unprecedented after all! It is precendented!
It could also be argued that Mr. Anderson Kambela Mazoka the first president of UPND managed to rise from the floor of politics to 27% within three (3) years. We contend therefore that the upward climb required for the UPND is within reach.
The second reason Muhabi gives us is, ‘taking into consideration current trending data, it is highly unlikely that UPND will make any significant gains on the Copperbelt and Northern provinces.’
Since Patriotic Front (PF) ascended to power in 2011, there have been only two Parliamentary by-elections on the Copperbelt namely, Mpongwe and Kafulafuta.
I reproduce both the 2011 general election results and the by election results to see whether Muhabi’s assertion hold true.
Kafulafuta Constituency 2011
MMD 5889 58.81%
PF 2953 29.49%
UPND 216 2.16%
Kafulafuta by elections
UPND 2504 47.4%
PF 2407 45.65%
MMD 32 0.6%
Mpongwe Constituency 2011
MMD 7,843 53.30%
PF 5,077 34.50%
UPND 1,471 10.00%
Mpongwe by election
PF 4,600 49.63%
UPND 3,069 33.11%
MMD 901 9.72%
According to available data, the UPND managed to outperform the MMD which had earlier won the seat during the 2011 general election.
It is interesting to note that in Mpongwe the UPND increased its performance by 23.11% and in Kafulafuta by 45.24%. These increases cannot be referred to as insignificant they are exponential leaps! Therefore the assertion by Muhabi that UPND cannot make significant gains on the Copperbelt is dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
The fact that UPND won Kafulafuta and lost Mpongwe narrowly means that the Copperbelt has become a new hunting ground for the UPND. Further, the UPND managed to beat the PF in a local government by election in Chililabombwe.
Available data also shows that the UPND has now leap frogged the MMD in electoral results in the Northern Province. The last council election in mpulungu attests to this. History also teaches us that Mr. Sata increased his votes in western province from 5% in 2006 to 22.9% in 2011. This represents an upward swing of 17.9% within a 5 year period in an area that wasn’t leaning Mr. Sata’s way for years. If it could happen for Mr. Sata, it could happen for any candidate as long as he works hard and it is God’s time. “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the mighty but time and chance happen to them all”.
Deputy SG Politics