PF Exit Beckons as in-fights intensify & the Kwacha runs Amok
The recent loss of the Roan parliamentary seat to NDC was more of a protest vote against PF than it was about Kambwili’s popularity and the civil and political insecurity of the ruling PF only serves to confirm that they too fear the 2021 election. Given the current difficult economic environment characterised by high commodity prices, massive unemployment, and poor labour conditions, shutting down and threatening of some media houses coupled with massive in-house fighting in the PF, it is now becoming clear that the PF will find it very difficult to win the 2021 elections.*
*By Daimone Siulapwa*
Firstly, Zambia is now a terrible mess and we can’t pretend anymore. Zambians may be divided politically, but they are united in suffering the consequences of this dead economy. Total mayhem is the correct description of the current status we find ourselves in as a country. But let us not entirely blame the PF government and its politics of populism, let us blame democracy, we all are part of the mess and we must takes responsibly.
*The Current status:* the dollar is now at K13, major mines are threatening to close down, many contractors have tooled down and left construction sites countrywide, many SMEs have been forced into bankruptcy and have closed down, many government employees are owed salary arrears stretching as far back as six months for some, many citizens who work for companies that supply goods and services to the government and are dependant on government to meet their monthly expenses have also gone without salaries for months on end.
This is because Zambia is running on empty and almost all government ministries have received *ZERO* funding for the *first quarter of 2019 for operations and debit servicing and this trend is likely to stretch on to year end and into next year.*
*What this simply means is that the government is broke and it has indirectly declared itself bankrupt.*
As things stand, all hell has broken lose, the economy is seriously limping with the dollar at K13 and the country is slowly boiling. Tempers are high and people are dropping dead one by one on a daily basis due to the unprecedented levels of hunger and depression.
The trickle down effect of the unpaid salaries and domestics debit is now reaching the celling and the government needs to sort this boiling pot before it erupts like a volcano, bounced debit orders, no food in homes, evictions, lose of property, divorces, school drop outs, mental illusions and alcoholism are now the order of the day in Zambia.
*How much more can the citizens bear before the country finally breaks down? Remember a hungry mob, is an angry mob*
Zambia’s political history will tell you that the third-term running is the worst hour for a ruling party. After serving two democratic terms from 1964-1968 and then 1968 to 1972, First Republican President Kaunda engineered a One-Party State in order to avoid a third-term election.
Similarly, his successor, Fredrick Chiluba, had to engineer an election rigging masterpiece to pull the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) through the 2001 election. 2011 then came to be the third-term test for the ruling New Deal MMD, and they lost to the Patriotic Front (PF).
Now, the ruling PF is on the brink of its first third-term test. The 2021 General Election is just slightly a few years away, but the writing is already on the wall, PF cannot win a clean General Election in 2021 as things stand.
The Patriotic Front’s (PF) winning margins in recent elections have never been slimmer. In the 2015 presidential election, a mere 1.66 per cent separated the PF from its closest challenger, the United Party for National Development (UPND).
In the 2016 General Election, 2.72 per cent was the difference between the PF and the UPND. In the two elections he has contested, President Edgar Lungu has failed to comfortably beat Hakainde Hichilema. In fact, Lungu has brought the PF down from the 6.56 per cent victory margin that brought it to power in 2011.
Meanwhile, Hakainde Hichilema has brought the UPND from 25 per cent in 2006, 20 per cent in 2008, 17 per cent in 2011, 46 per cent in 2015, and then 47 per cent in 2016. There is a clear upward trend over the past five years for the UPND, while the PF is on a downward trend.
The recent loss of the Roan parliamentary seat to NDC was more of a protest vote against PF than it was about Kambwili’s popularity, PF must take heed, a signal has been given loud and clear.
The current tough economic conditions and the highly perceived corrupt practices of some PF members has placed the PF in an unpopular position, and given the difficult economic environment characterised by high commodity prices, massive unemployment, and poor labour conditions, shutting down and threatening of some media houses coupled with massive in-house fighting in the PF, it is now becoming loudly clear that the PF will find it very difficult to win the 2021 elections, unless drastic measures are taken to remedy this current crisis.
The Economic Recovery Plan is yet to deliver as the cash-strapped government continues to rationalise resources across a wide range of competing needs.
The civil and political insecurity of the ruling PF only serves to confirm that they too fear the 2021 election and continue to use the public order act to stop the opposition from holding rallies, meetings and even prayers. Lately, there has been a relentless clamp down on opposition political parties, the media, and tightened oversight of civil society and the unfriendly churches.
The Lungu-led administration is not looking anything like a government that is comfortably in power and expecting to deliver for the next 7 years. That was PF in 2011- when they comfortably drove their agenda.
The current PF in 2019 is a ruling party that is picking up the pieces of a broken party, unsure on its prospects of the future, and desperate to silence any voices that will worsen their position, Prime TV and the NDC are cases in point.
The ruling party aims to conduct a nationwide convention soon in order to reinvigorate its structures, but as things stand the party is broken down and more damage will be done as more disgruntled member start speaking out. Lungu’s confidant in the last presidential elections, KBF’s who has come out publicly to challenge his presidency has been expelled for showing ambition.
However, this internal exercise is a presidential challenge away from being a nightmare and may turn for the worse, this could be the reason why all perceived presidential hopefuls in the PF have been slandered and threatened or hounded out of the party, especially that Lungu has declared himself the sole candidate for PF for the 2021.
With likely presidential challengers within PF such as Chishimba Kambwili, Harry Kalaba and Miles Sampa out of the way, President Edgar Lungu is far from comfortable at the helm of the PF as he now fights KBF and many more that they mushroom.
The PF Convention to come is sure to be the penultimate clash of the party structures, as the ‘true greens’ on the one hand clash with the ‘blue-greens’ who have come in as a result of the Lungu-Mutati-Banda working relationship.
*The ruling party may even split should it poorly manage the adoption of the new entrants from the allied MMD faction into legitimate PF positions.*
With challenges in the party, outside the party, and in the economy- it is plain to see that the PF will find it difficulty to win in 2021. Not without the political engineering of a Kaunda in 1972 or a Chiluba in 2001.
It is no wonder that the Lungu administration is stretching its muscle in the art of political engineering across all state institutions. This is all a build-up to the 2021 deadline, in which the Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) must survive what is increasingly looking like an exit from power.
*Daimone Siulapwa is the founder and Editor-In-Chief of the Voice Politico Newspaper in Zambia.