’50 plus one doesn’t and has never favoured ruling party’

Practical dangers of 50 + 1 clause

By Tutwa Sandani Ngulube (PF legal counsel)

The Constitution has allowed the return of the 50+1 clause as a very basic minimum voting ratio for presidential candidates.

The History of 50+1 is that it was first introduced in our Constitution in 1991 when [former president Kenneth Kaunda] KK fought the wind of Change.

He might have thought [Fredrick] Chiluba will not get 50+1 given the strength of the UNIP structures who were all on the payroll of the state.

Shocking, it worked against him because Chiluba got 78% and was sworn in.

What happens is that the 50+1 does not and has never favoured the incumbent because of its strict requirements.

We saw in France when [Nicolas] Sarkozy lost the first round the other parties ganged up against him and Hollande took over. It also happened to Jacques Chirac when they teamed up in the second round.

The other guy Lerape won 8 out of 13 regions in the first round but during the rerun he won only 1 region.

In Liberia George Weah beat the iron Lady Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with about 48.5 but in the re-run the other political parties ganged up against him saying they cannot be ruled by a footballer and he got less than 10 percent.

We need to work tirelessly to beat the other parties on the First round otherwise it will be difficult to pull through.

This is the reason why we need all the MMD votes to our side.

We need to accept the other game changing fact that the PF dominance is in the north of this country. The eastern side is for the MMD, the southern for UPND, western and north western are shared while Copper belt is uncertain for now.

Assuming the economic factors, weather factors and social factors all tilt towards the opposition, in areas without our dominance, we may face serious challenges getting 50+1.

The other problem is that our strongholds record low numbers of votes which can even be swallowed in groups by one constituency in the South.

We have not done much in sensitising our voters in the north. We need to take advantage of these remaining weeks to bus and ferry our supporters to polling centres to register as voters.

During any election re-run there is voter apathy. My analysis of results from 20 bye elections since 2011 show that the PF grew its numbers in Parliament but the turn out of the voters significantly reduced by 60%.

This is dangerous because the same reduction may happen should there be a re-run.

The other factor is the the PF faces depletion of Strong hold due to the fact that so far two (2) political parties have been born out of it namely Rainbow and DF.

If we analyse the pattern of leaders we also have Chanda of the Fourth revolution and Elias Chipimo all eyeing the northern votes.

President Lungu is playing an open game by openly declaring willingness to work with the MMD.

With the few months to go we need more alliances to reach 50+1.

I do not see any opposition party rallying behind the PF other than the MMD whose structures are intact.

I do not see us getting more votes in North western and western provinces than we already have. Our focus should now be on the economic issues. We have scored successes in roads, bridges and schools but the people want more of social benefits such as jobs.

We must also allow the President to interact more with the public to build confidence in the voters. So far he has done very well but we must look to where our voters matter most.

The survival of the PF in the next elections will depend on the strength of its candidates.

We saw a well funded RB putting up a good fight but he lost to a poor man Michael Sata because RB suffered casualties in the parliamentary ballots that opened up the gap between him and Sata to 300,000.

Similarly, non performing MPs should not be adopted worse still councillors.

Popular candidates should be in the front line catching votes for the party. Corruption during adoptions should be defeated if we are to remain in power.


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