By Francis Longwe
MMD national Secretary Muhabi Lungu wrote an article which was posted on this website a few days ago. He talked about a lot of things but the main point of the article was that the UPND will not win the 2016 elections because their performance in the past has been poor and has been actually declining. He asserted that it would be a miracle for the UPND to win the polls in 2016.
Muhabi Lungu admits that he was forced to write-off the UPND’s chances of winning because UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema referred to people re-joining MMD as mad. I do not know if HH said that, as the only source is Muhabi himself and maybe the Post newspaper. But I recall reading a few days before he wrote this diatribe, Muhabi warned people to be careful with what the Post newspaper publishes. He said people must verify whatever the Post writes before commenting. Hope he did verify himself. Somehow, I find it a bit curious that brother Muhabi was so worked out by this political language, which is commonly used in Zambia. Why is Muhabi personally offended by that alleged statement? Is it because Muhabi is the only person who has joined the MMD in the recent past or otherwise took up a senior position when others have been leaving? Well, Iam not aware of anyone who has joined or re-joined the MMD from the time that party lost power in 2011.
Muhabi defends his leaving a well paying job at the Zambia Developing Agency (ZDA) to join a party that everybody knew was losing elections by saying that ‘I for one belong to an organization because I believe in its values, principles and methods, even if it means that adhering to those values means sometimes losing’.
This is the same Muhabi who remained in UNIP after everybody had left. Now, UNIP and MMD believe in very different values. When MMD came on the scene and wrestled power from UNIP, Muhabi stuck to UNIP because he supposedly believed in UNIP principles. Now, Muhabi believes and will defend MMD methods and principles with his life?
Certainly it is desirable and admirable to believe in values and principles; but shouldn’t those values be consistent? And what values is Muhabi talking about in MMD? Was Muhabi’s ascendency to the MMD secretariat based on principles or ‘winning at all costs’? Does Muhabi believe in the physical methods the MMD used to hound out Richard Kachingwe? Does Muhabi approve of all the things the MMD has done from inception? What we (me and my colleagues) think is that Muhabi is just one of those people who hate change. He is confortable and feels safe in what he is familiar with. He dreads the uncertainties change can bring.
It is Muhabi’s contention that the UPND is wrong to assert that they will win the next general elections. What does he want them to say, that they will definitely lose?
He provides some past statistics from some website and uses them as his justification that the UPND will lose; yet he is quick to say that results of past bye-lections are not indicators of would-be results of general elections. His thinking or reasoning seems to be that you can only use results of presidential elections to determine future presidential elections. If that were the case, our own beloved Rupiah Banda would have won the 2011 elections since he won the 2008 elections and the MMD also won the elections before that.
To discount the relevance of bye-elections to general elections, Muhabi says ‘for example, the MMD won the Mpulungu by-election in October 2010 but subsequently lost it to PF less than a year later in 2011. The UPND won the Chilanga, Mufumbwe and Solwezi Central by-elections but subsequently lost all three to MMD in 2011’.
Yet, Muhabi conveniently left the many bye-elections the PF won in this period. He also decides not to mention that the election of the MMD MP for Solwezi Central was nullified because of malpractice and did not represent the will of the people. It represented the will of the MMD. The same was the case for Mufumbwe but Steven Masumba saw the nullification coming fast and ‘danced’ by resigning and joining PF where, using state resources and intimidation, he retained the seat. The results of Chilanga seat are still being contested in court.
On the Mpulungu bye-election of 2010, what Muhabi did not want to say is that the PF, then in opposition, only lost that seat with 85 votes and that the PF never conceded defeat.
PF candidate Freedom Sikazwe polled 4,419 votes against the winning MMD candidate Given Mung’omba who got 5003 votes. PF president Michael Sata accused the ruling MMD of producing about 500 votes from “imaginary” polling station in order to win Mpulungu. So when the PF won the Mpulungu seat a year later with a huge margin, there was to be no surprise. That bye-election actually showed that the people in Mpulungu wanted PF not MMD but due to malpractice, the MMD ‘won’ the seat.
So, the four examples given by Muhabi are dismissed with the contempt they deserve. Need we remind Muhabi that during the general elections, the PF retained all the seats they scooped during the bye-elections leading to the general elections?
If you cannot gauge the changing political mood using bye-elections, then we wonder what else you can use since Muhabi does not seem to provide an alternative. Given what has already been said about Muhabi’s political acumen and his history of sticking to losing parties, we do not think Muhabi is the best advisor for political moods and patterns.
Is Muhabi telling us that the bye-election the MMD won in Eastern Province where the MMD still seems to have following are meaningless and that come 2016, those people will vote for another political entity?
Muhabi does not seem to realize that voting patterns and trends change, no wonder his poor political judgments always. For example, it was commonly said that people in Western province couldn’t vote for Michael Sata. But was that true in the 2011 elections?
Looking at his so-called demographic map, it is clear that Muhabi is saying, though he is afraid to do so plainly; that people of Luapula, Northern and possibly Eastern cannot vote for UPND. Brother Lungu is advised to steer away from tribal politics. He is too educated for that. Such are the values he should believe in.
According to Muhabi, no presidential candidate can win an election without out-rightly winning at least two of these five provinces he lists as Copperbelt, Lusaka, Northern, Eastern, and Southern. Implicit in this ‘prophesy’ is that any other candidate apart from the UPND candidate can with any two of these. Yet, apart from outdated statistics, he provides no useful explanation as to why the UPND candidate cannot win, say Lusaka or Copperbelt or both. Everybody knows that the UPND has been making inroads in the Copperbelt and for the first time since that party was formed, they won a parliamentary and local government bye-election on the Copperbelt. This is actually the reason Muhabi is vehemently dismissing the relevance of bye-elections because they go against his heartily held views that the UPND cannot win any votes on the Copperbelt. He would rather stick to stale statistics when there are fresh ones.
UPND has won Lusaka votes before and can do that again with proper campaigns. So going by Muhabi’s own statistics, the UPND can actually win.
It will also be a good idea for Muhabi to stop speaking of other provinces such as Northwestern, Luapula and Western as though they add nothing to national voting. As MMD national secretary, he may one day find himself pleading for votes from the same provinces he despises.
If winning the presidential election was just by a candidate adding on top of what his party obtained in the previous polls as Muhabi seems to be saying, then RB would still be in State House. It is erroneous and fatally misleading to suggest that HH needs to move his percentage from 18 per cent he got in 2011 to get 40 per cent to win in 2016. In the first place, that 18 per cent will not be relevant for the 2016 elections. All candidates now have zero. In elections, you start afresh for each subsequent election. That is why Muhabi is wrong to think that the MMD will just top up from the percentage they got in 2011.
What happened in 2011 is gone. Bye-elections that are being held now have more relevance because they are based on the same issues that will be hot in 2016. Voters have tested the current government and will vote according to what has happened between 2011 and 2016. Unfulfilled promises, bad governance etc…
It is hoped that Muhabi is not cheating Reverend Nevers Mumba that all the people who voted for MMD will also vote for the MMD again in 2016. There are a lot of factors why that won’t be the case. In 2011, the MMD was in power and some people just want to align themselves with the ruling party. The Munkombwe philosophy. The MMD had access to state funds and could reach areas the opposition could not. Unless, the PF tempers with the order of things, there will be a new register and many new first-time voters. In these five years, a lot of young people would have become eligible and if registered, they may not vote the way others voted in 2011. In these five years, people who voted in 2011 would have moved, died and others will not cast the vote for varying reasons.
But most important, the MMD has a new head. Those 2011 voters might have voted for Rupiah Banda and his men such as George Kunda and women not necessarily MMD. Now the MMD has to sell Dr Mumba and his team. There are no votes somewhere at the ECZ stored for Dr Mumba as inheritance from RB. If things were working like that, HH would have just topped up from what Mazoka left for him and won the elections. Unfortunately or fortunately, HH has had to build his own brand; and it has taken him almost ten years to be where he is now and see real chances of becoming president. Dr Mumba will have to go through the same process.
If losing previous elections is the main factor that determines who wins the next polls, then the MMD will never win elections because in 2011, contrary to what Muhabi is trying to portray, the biggest loser was the MMD. MMD was in power but lost that power. Is there any bigger loss to that?
The question Muhabi should be addressing is whether the MMD is selling Dr Mumba. Does Mumba has a team to market him or be marketed with him? Do people like Bowman Lusambo who seems to be the MMD vice-president add value to the team? Is MMD gaining or declining as we move towards 2016? For now, MMD seems confined to the Eastern province. If there any seat the MMD will win in the next parliamentary bye-elections, it will be in Eastern province and not anywhere else in the country. This is a fact and anyone who thinks otherwise is cheating himself. This is the current situation.
Muhabi Lungu asserts that ‘even if we were to give UPND the benefit of doubt that they have the capacity to reverse this trend in Lusaka for the 2016 elections, the upward trajectory of Mr. Hichilema would have to significantly surpass all his past performances. It will be a tall order for the UPND to reverse this trend and double their 2011 performance from 11% to 22% in Lusaka.’
Is this really impossible? What was Michael Sata’s performance in Western province in 2008 and 2006? Didn’t he triple those figures in 2011? Muhabi should not be afraid or think that tremendous achievements are impossible. It is only him who has that defect of failing to move mountains. Voters in a region can swing within a few days and talking about 30 or 50 per cent is nothing.
Muhabi states that Anderson Mazoka lost the 2001 elections because he performed badly on the Copperbelt though he won Northwestern and Western Provinces. Typical of someone with a negative agenda, Muhabi could not simply admit that Mazoka won Lusaka overwhelmingly. Instead he says he ‘did relatively well.’ The results of 2001 are here on the official ECZ website: http://www.elections.org.zm/media/presidential_results_2001.pdf
And the diagram below shows how Mazoka overwhelmingly won Lusaka. But Muhabi would rather say ‘did relatively well’ to justify his assertion that the victory was not stolen from Mazoka. He would also rather avoid official ECZ diagrams and pick from some website because they tally with his agenda. The truth as is tabled on the ECZ website is that Mazoka won Lusaka overwhelmingly and in fact almost all the MPs in 2001 for Lusaka province were from UPND. Is this doing relatively well or excellent performance? Mazoka also beat all the candidates in central province but Muhabi would rather say did relatively well because reality is against his agenda.
Muhabi is advised to check the speed at which he is becoming a full fledged useful idiot for the PF