By Bill Kapinga
There will be basically two front-runners in the forthcoming Presidential elections – Patriotic Front’s (PF) candidate Edgar Lungu on one hand and the United Party for National Development’s (UPND) torch-bearer Hakainde Hichilema on the other. This article seeks to look at a number of factors the two main contenders may be considering before they can actually settle on a particular individual.
Before President Edgar Lungu let the proverbial “cat out of the bag”, several individuals of different shades and hues from both within and outside the party were busy positioning or imagining themselves as potential running-mates. As some of them were busy prostrating and groveling on the filthy floor singing praises of Lungu to catch his attention, others were ingratiating themselves with the President and offering to auction their political parties to clinch this coveted portfolio!
However when Lungu finally hinted that his running-mate would be a woman, this severely deflated the blind ambitions of these individuals and left a rancor taste in their mouths. To this day, some of them haven’t yet recovered from this shock!
What will Lungu therefore be looking for in his potential running-mate?
Since Lungu has already indicated that his running-mate will definitely be a woman, our hunch is that he won’t just wake up one day and pluck any Jane or Jill out of obscurity from one of the streets of Chawama and attempt another long walk to State House with her. He’ll probably be looking for someone with clout; a person who is going to help marshal in enough support to enable him win the much competitive elections.
We’ve already heard of names such as Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, Bank of Zambia Deputy governor Dr. Tukiya Kankasa Mabula and one of the daughters to iconic freedom fighter Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe being whispered as potential candidates. However, it’s not a university degree or lofty position in Wall Street that is going to make Lungu overcome the daunting task of jumping that hurdle on polling day. This has to be someone that is going to bring votes to the table; someone with a massive following. And this has to be someone with a history of community service to their name. A person that can jump on a podium and mesmerize the masses with eloquent speeches and capture their imagination!
Do any of the said individuals fit into the picture? We leave it up to Lungu to decide.
This now brings us to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema popularly known as HH.
HH has two deputies, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba – Vice president, administration and Canicious Banda – Vice president, political. As sure as night follows the day, one would obviously expect HH to settle for any of the two. And this is what the two gentlemen expect to happen, I guess. They should be burning with impatience wondering when HH will make that grand announcement by now.
Compared to the two, Dr. Banda has been in UPND longer than the GBM. But does this necessarily entail Banda automatically assuming the mantle as running-mate?
Without taking anything from either of them, they are both valuable assets to UPND. While Banda has firmly stood with the party over a number of years even at the hands of mounting persecution, GMB has equally helped the party “bull doze” its way into Northern and Muchinga provinces even if he’s new in the party. Name recognition and popularity akin to celebrity status is very important in politics. Like Lungu, it would be illogical for HH to settle for any Jim or Jack on the street as his running mate.
What exactly will HH be therefore looking for in a running mate?
Considering how crucial this election will be, it won’t matter whether this person has been in the party for this number of donkey years or months, that person can even be coopted from outside the party ranks.
And when that person trundles along the plains of Barotse land, people must be able to immediately recognize him; when that person stands in awe before the smoke that thunders in Southern province, people must easily tell who it is; when he negotiates his way through the precarious manenekela in Eastern province, people must be able to put a name to his face; when he toils his way up the Muchinga escarpment in northern regions, people must be able to say that’s ba kantwa (so and so), when he wades his way across the mighty Zambezi river in North western province people, people mustn’t be left wondering who is risking their lives in the crocodile infested river; when he rubs shoulders with folks in the congested streets of Lusaka, kaponyas mustn’t have difficulties remembering his name; when he goes atop the famous gray mountain on the Copperbelt province, jerabos must easily be able to say ba mwine is in the house!
And when such a person surely speaks, people are going to listen and when they listen, they are likely to vote for UPND. That is the kind of a person HH must surely be looking!
Dear readers what’s your take on this one?
Who will HH and Lungu pick for running mates?
By Bill Kapinga