THE ruling PF feels threatened if Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 is not enacted into law as it may negatively injure the party/government.
The ruling party also confesses that unemployment, poverty and economic hardships faced by the general public is a huge threat to its 2021 re-election prospects.
The PF fears that Hakainde Hichilema and his UPND present a complex political puzzle for President Edgar Lungu and the ruling party.
According to the PF strategic plan 2018 to 2021, “the 2015 and 2016 national vote empirically showed how UPND has politically emerged as Zambia’s closest alternative to the ruling PF.”
The 22-page document is titled, ‘Towards an industrial, prosperous, peaceful, stable, united, democratic and inclusive Zambia under One Zambia, One Nation.’
Page three of the strategic plan has a foreword written by PF president Lungu while the next page has remarks by party secretary general Davies Mwila.
The PF notes that political fatigue among some Zambians is an issue.
The other threat is a pattern of political regime change in SADC and Africa and also voter apathy, especially in PF strongholds.
Others are hostile well-funded NGOs/civil society players, well sponsored anti-PF/government private media houses, growing corruption tag and public perception, increase in ghost bloggers and social media players who are malicious and peddles propaganda against PF/government and sponsored political violence from the lead opposition.
“[There is] diminishing goodwill from the general public due to unforeseen circumstances, e.g. drought, power outages and high prices of mealie meal and fuel, a hostile, malicious, pompous and ruthless opposition bent at taking over State power at any cost [and] emergence of independent members of parliament, especially in PF strongholds,” the Plan highlights.
“[There is] growing dissenting voices from some professionals, a strong opposition with national, regional and international support, creation of political coalitions/alliances against the PF government, visible hostility against bill 10 (its failure may negatively injure the party/government), emergence of splinter opposition political parties which eat into the party structures, regional and international recognition and support for the leading opposition party, unemployment, poverty and economic hardships faced by the general public.”
On available opportunities, the PF is banking on voter and national registration card registration, especially in its strongholds and: “having a likeable State President, maintaining sound relations with majority traditional and religious leaders across Zambia, presence of countryside developmental projects, and government control over all the public media houses (Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and ZNBC).”
The PF adds that existence of alternative reliable cooperating partners (Chinese, Indians and Russians), being a member of the regional and international ruling political parties and the main opposition (UPND) being deemed as a regional and tribal party by many Zambians were its opportunities.
“[Others are] availability of local and international actors to support capacity building of the party, existence of prop-PF NGOs/CSOs, diminishing support and popularity of the opposition in some parts of their strongholds, able to cultivate donor funding from multilateral organisations, prospects of reconciliation with new splinter parties born out of the PF, [and] existence of district commissioners and provincial ministers countrywide,” reads the strategic plan.
“Ongoing constitutional reforms – Bill 10 and related others, having renowned artistes, experts, chiefs and clerics with [a] soft spot for the party, emergence of new media houses and platforms, having a party and State President who is being awarded at regional and international level…”
In the situational analysis, the strategic plan states that while the PF is the ruling political party with majority seats in Parliament, other parties represented in the National Assembly are the MMD, the UPND, FDD and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“The 2015 and 2016 national vote empirically showed how UPND has politically emerged as Zambia’s closest alternative to the ruling PF. For example, in 2016 President Edgar C Lungu of the ruling PF got 1,860,877 votes, Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND got 1,760,347 while the third contender i.e. Edith Z Nawakwi of FDD only managed to win 24,149 votes,” the Plan says.
“Coupled with consistent regional and ethnic vote in three provinces of Zambia against low voter turn up in most PF stronghold regions, HH and his UPND present complex political puzzle for sitting President Edgar Lungu and his ruling PF.”
According to the ruling party’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, its stay in power is further threatened by multiple factors like the nationwide energy crisis, well organised opposition, popularised corruption tag, increased unemployment, high cost of living and some private media’s hostility.
Other highlighted threats include governance civil society’s anti-government crusades, growing internal squabbles and divisions as well as clear pro-opposition alignment by the West, among others.
“If these political issues remain unresolved, for whatever reasons, the impact may birth a protest vote in 2021 and consequently foster regime [change], sending the PF out of power and government,” it says.
The strategic plan listed some of its strengths as having a president who is an advocate of patriotism, intact and well-coordinated party structures and countrywide membership, power of incumbency, having a party president who is liked by majority Zambians and having a clear and written party constitution, having majority members of parliament in the National Assembly and a strong media team which highlights the positives and achievements of the party and government.
Other strengths, the PF contends, are the legacy of declaring October 18 as a day of national prayer, fasting and reconciliation, being of national character as a party (all-inclusive and covered in terms of region and tribe), having a think-tank that assists with technical research and information and public support for the creation of new districts as tools for decentralisaton and rural development.
Pro-poor programmes like the social cash transfer, food security pack, school feeding programme, among others, are also highlighted as the ruling party’s strengths.
About weaknesses, the PF fears the lack of coordination between civil servants and party officials (disjoint between the party and government), lack of practical foothold, influence or control on higher learning institutions, lack of coordinated and well-structured funding for the party’s media unit and research bureau, and failure to mitigate the corruption tag (many accused party members fail to exculpate themselves or voluntarily step aside to pave way for investigations).
The PF confesses its other weaknesses to be the use of its name to collect money and contracts without declaring to the party and undisciplined/unruly party cadres who are perceived by the general public to be above the law.
Further, the PF points at its failure to manage certain ‘scandalous issues’ like the Lower Zambezi Mining, Forest 27 etc., rare reversal of controversial decisions which lack public support (the reversal on FIC board chairperson appointment was widely supported by many players), and having a reactive and defensive narrative, instead of a pro-active and persuasive narrative, with regards to media and communication, as the other weaknesses.
Failure to operationalise the party’s research bureau to influence, monitor and evaluate public projects, policies and programmes is also a weakness, according to the ruling party.
Others are over-emphasis/publicity for opposition and rivalry, over-reliance on the same pro-PF neutral voices of which some are now not respected or listened to by the masses.