By Dr. Nalukui Nawa, PhD
I generally don’t like writing long articles, however, pardon me on this one my fellow countrymen and women.
As a political and governance strategist of many years, I have come to learn that it is always a factor in politics to analyze and understand the game (strategy) played by your competitors. In football you call it game formation and have fun formations like 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and 4-4-1-1 among others. These are simply methods that teams position themselves to approach matches and likewise political parties have strategies in which they position themselves ahead of the polls (I am not into football; I love formula 1 to the bone). Over the years, I have come to establish that one party can only best the other if it understands the other’s political strategy.
Take for instance, the Patriotic Front (PF) won the 2011 general elections on one political strategy; LYING. LYING is telling one or more lies and a lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally. The PF in 2011 framed its campaign on the dreaded campaign promises of lower taxes, more money in people’s pockets and more jobs. It is clear that the said campaign strategy was only coined to win votes and kick out the corrupt Rupiah Banda regime. The strategy was good and delivered results.
In the 2015 presidential by-elections, the PF had significantly lost its ground and it was clear that the electorates had realized that the party had no capacity to actualize the promises it made ahead of the 2011 general elections and had begun yearning for an alternative government. Fortunately for the PF (and unfortunately for the majority Zambians) the realm of political strategy is so big and they could afford to find themselves another strategy in 2011 that could afford them a disputed 1% victory (which I am convinced Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development won). The PF in 2015 relied on HEROISM and DISCREDITING as their strategy. HEROISM is the use of a celebrity, icon or legend’s status to project the image that you share such values with hero. It must be appreciated that Michael Chilufya Sata (MHSRIEP) is in the eyes of many a hero, an icon and indeed a legend. Mr. Sata’s political standing in Zambia can be equaled by none (though HH is competing for this throne); his views formed a cult of followers that passionately believed in him. It was this image that the PF under Edgar Lungu used to win the 2015 polls. The electorates felt that the term needed to be finished by the PF as an honour to their HERO, Mr. Sata. This worked well with the PF who ended up benefiting from a sympathetic vote.
Secondly, whilst the PF was riding on Sata the Hero’s reputation, they utilized DISCREDITING as a complementary strategy to their side. Sadly so, it was common to see the UPND and team focusing on defending themselves and/or President HH from the PF’s attacks. The PF peddled lies on privatization of the mines (believed by the illiterate electorates) and bundled the blame on HH who struggled to penetrate the Copperbelt province which was heavily hit by the effects of privatization of the Mines. The PF capitalized on people’s ignorance and lack of understanding by repeatedly telling them that HH was the one that privatized the Mines and was the cause of their problems. Further, in a country where the rich are viewed differently from the rest, President HH’s riches were a source of problems to some people. This became a problem with the PF who used this against HH by sinking so low as using fake pastors/bishops (I am not referring to the corrupt Bishop Chomba of Kabwe, now Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy) to call him a freemason or rather a Satanist. Belonging to a dominantly religious country, HH had to defend himself again from such baseless allegations that were systematically framed to DISCREDIT him. An inhumane use of tribe was also used by the PF to DISCREDIT HH painting the picture that leadership was a preserve of a selected few tribes in Zambia.
Fast forward to August, 2016, can this same strategy work for the PF? Definitely not! It cannot work just like this strategy failed Rupiah Banda who even went extra miles such as hiring Chanda Chimba to discredit the late Sata ahead of the 2011 elections. It reached a point where even lies against Sata could not stop the people from voting for him. The PF have acknowledged that the battle shall not be for the faint hearted, and sensing defeat have called upon a few strategies ahead of 2016. The strategies in use are CENSORSHIP, SMEAR CAMPAIGN and RELIGION BASED STRATEGY.
CENSORSHIP is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet or other controlling body. Governments, organizations and individuals may engage in censorship as a political tactic. The aspect of CENSORSHIP is the current strategy that the PF and Lungu are using to disadvantage the opposition. This strategy that works by way of restricting what must be reached to the people and when they can be allowed to assemble works through the use of state machinery to silence all opposing views. Leaders of opposition parties are arrested on framed up charges to induce fear in them and their supporters. The Zambia Police has become notoriously professional at selectively applying the Public Order Act. In addition, the public media space is only preserved for Lungu and his PF officials. The opposition, the church, and the civil society that seem to speak against the PF administration are excluded from Public media that is however funded through tax-payers money.
Besides, the public media has been transformed into a propaganda tool for purposes of SMEAR CAMPAIGN. Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and all government print media has been turned into propaganda tools for either glorifying the non-existent achievements of Lungu and his failed PF team or demeaning the relevance of the opposition parties with their leaders painted as liars only after power. That’s a tactful SMEAR CAMPAIGN applied by Lungu and his team. In history, RELIGION BASED STRATEGY has worked before in England (Church of England was established for political reasons) and China. The idea is to use the church to win the hearts of the Christian community. Church leaders (am not talking about Bishop Joshua Banda) are paid up to support Lungu and portray him as a “god” given leader in a deception act that tries to portray as if other opposition leaders do not know GOD or maybe they worship an inferior god. Knowing that Zambia is a predominantly Christian nation, there are non-stop efforts by Lungu to appeal to the Christian community through deception in what is best described in political strategy as Pharisees’ Posture; everyone now knows that Lungu pretends to be holier than even JESUS CHRIST. It is laughable to see the construction of a government church with those paid up men of god overseeing the project (I don’t want to ask who will be worshiping from there and when).
The aforementioned are Lungu and his PF’s strategies going in the August, 2016 elections. However, these strategies are known and will definitely fail him. It is an illusion for the PF to use unschooled cadres like the Inspector General of Police and his cadre police working along with the PF militia to instill fear in the electorates. This political violence that is meant to instill fear shall backfire against Lungu and his PF. It is rather increasing the resolve amongst the people to get rid of this failed PF regime. Lungu can also not rely on his PF controlled public media exclusively for victory in the 2016 elections. Whilst he has married the public media to the exclusion of others it is not possible under this era and age to completely deny people access to information and as such people shall always have a way of knowing about Lungu’s failed leadership. In any case do they even need the media to know about Lungu’s failures when they are feeling the heat of a failed economy under Lungu? The youths have no jobs, youths are losing jobs on a daily basis, the cost of living has gone up, mealie-meal shortages are everywhere, power loadshedding is everywhere, there are shortages of drugs in hospitals and health centres across the country, there are fuel shortages across the country, school fees have become exorbitant, management of higher education has become shambolic under Lungu- UNZA and CBU still remain closed on flimsy grounds; the list of PF’s failures that can be directly felt by the electorates is endless.
Pretending to be more Christian and paying up pastors/bishops (again I am not referring to Bishop Joshua Banda and Reverend Pukuta Mwanza) cannot rescue Lungu from defeat. These pastors/bishops are not in any way putting food on people’s tables and must realize that there is no dignity in poverty. The paid up pastors/bishops cannot stop the Mining firms and many other Industries across the country that have continued to retrench the workers thereby increasing the levels of destitution among the people. The paid up men of god’s baseless allegations of Satanism against HH is apparently not stopping our economy from sinking in the doldrums of production failure that has resulted from excessive loadshedding!
Noticeable is the fact that whilst the paid up men of god are frequenting State House to partake from the national loot, the people are suffering! Just like Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ over 30 coins of silver, our known men of god have betrayed their flock and are swimming in luxury enjoying from the looting of public resources perpetrated by Lungu and his PF friends.
Luckily, GOD will never forsake His own people and the people have realized that there is someone out there who has been selflessly offering himself to change the status quo and restore their dignity (watch where the masses are flocking to). The people of Zambia have realized that dividing them on the basis of tribe was baseless and only meant to benefit a few greedy individuals that have terribly failed this country. People have realized that we are all one people blessed with 72 tribes in GOD’s own wish as He saw it beautiful and befitting. The country gladly notes that there is no tribe qualification on the listed qualifications for republican president and therefore this is testimony that leadership is not a preserve of a particular tribe and as such anyone can be president. Given that Lungu has terribly failed and led this country to unprecedented levels of suffering; he must be voted out and he will be unable to call upon any known political strategy to save his failed political career
Unfortunately, for Lungu and his PF, they have reached a point where they cannot figure out the political strategies being employed by their competitors mainly because they have a lot of things (the country is melting in poverty and destitution) that they must first put in place before they could even think of dwelling on that. Before Lungu and his campaign team can even state to expend their energy on cracking the political strategy of the UPND and others, they first must correct the wrong legacy that Lungu has deservedly earned for himself. Lungu’s legacy is increased poverty, widespread hunger due to increased cost of living, high taxes, joblessness and destitution, increased loadshedding, fuel shortages, mealie-meal shortages, increased national debts, mismanagement of the education sector, high school fees, unnecessary university closures, corruption in fuel procurements, increased political violence, biased judiciary, passive and biased Zambia Police Service, biased public media, unfair application of the Public Order Act, and inconsistent national policies among others.
Simply put, at this moment in time, there is no political strategy on earth that can stop Lungu and PF from losing the forthcoming general elections. Simply put, at this moment in time, there is no political strategy on earth that can stop Lungu and PF from losing the forthcoming general elections.