Zambia President Edgar Lungu’s Victory in Relation with African Politics – #Zimbabwe as a Case Study
Election is not only about voting but it evolves a lot. You need to be well prepared and have a clear strategy before you embark or convey the message to the people. What is it that people want? How do you lure people? There is a lot of election bickering each time we go towards elections. There are a lot of things we have to learn from past elections, regional and international elections. Its high time people should draw lessons from all ankles to avoid disputes in the near future polls. One thing people need to understand is that in every election perspective there is need for every institution to gather vital information, all necessary instruments and skills in order to achieve the desired objectives and goals. I have always said why remaining in opposition for 20 years? Is it your desired goal? Why crying foul after every election? Why always making mistakes? Who is to blame? What is the exact problem? Every election is all about strategy and intellectual thinking. This issue of going to the SADC, EU and the international community or even local courts, one can’t cry over spilled milk, you need to exhaust with ideas. Don’t wait for SADC or any other international body, do your ground work, work harder and talk to the people, strategize and bring positive results. Zanu Pf will not be shaken by huge rallies but Zanu Pf will be shaken if MDC T goes quietly to strategize.
For you to win an election you need political strategy. Every institution must strategize on how to yield power. I had a very strong case study on Zambian elections and honestly there is no way Hichilema would win those elections and one would read that even two weeks before election you could tell that Lungu was on his way to retain the presidency. Hichilema made a lot of mistakes which had a negative impact on his party. Zambia is a Christian nation and by declaring war on them you are already decampaining yourself. Hichilema is not a good strategist. He under estimated Edgar Lungu. By the way Lungu plotted his ascendancy to presidency way back before even Sata died. Lungu is calm, Hichilema is very aggressive. When you are strategizing you need to do less talking and more results. When Lungu called for national prayers all churches supported him and Hichilema boycotted the event and the whole nation concluded that this guy is not a Christian and what more when he goes to State House? When people went for polls in Zambia, all church were for Edgar Lungu.
You don’t expect to win an election when you are not there on the ground. Since January till to date Morgan Tsvangirai is still signing MOUs and Mugabe has addressed his 6th rally country wide. Mugabe is a strong orator. When given the podium he is a smart guy and he can finish you on the podium, and on that one you can’t that away from him. He is a good speaker. When he goes to rural areas he gives food, hand-outs so ground work in politics is very important. There is no way you expect to win an election when you are not on the ground. You have to be physically on the ground. You need to talk to the people using their own language, build relationship. Winning an election is not an overnight thing, it is a process and it has to be gradual.
BENEFIT OF ALLIANCES
Alliances and coalitions are important. We should never tamper with people’s views, a coalition is very important. It is necessary. It is very necessary to have coalitions because mostly in Zimbabwe people vote on tribal and regional lines. The idea of coalition accommodates everyone. MDC T had several splits and in Zanu Pf we have factions, so by promoting coalition matter, people will be coordinating using one template and idea. The idea is to accommodate everyone and vote for one candidate. Alliances have their own problems, strengths and weaknesses however there has to be a lot of effort to build the idea. Usually the most sticking point is the issue of positions. However in the case of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai has the numbers which makes him qualify for the presidency of the coalition. In other countries like Swaziland it worked and even in Kenya they are working on the idea of a mooted coalition to dislodge Uhuru Kenyatta.
Strong political institutions must have strong message. If you check in 2013 Zanu Pf had the message “ bhora mugedhi” and this was very clear. What is it that your clients want to hear? What is the implication of the message? What are the objectives of the message? This is where our opposition parties loose it. As we enter into 2018 you need to make sure that you have strong political message that should be clear to the people. What exactly is it that you want people to hear and understand.
WINNING ELECTIONS IS ALL ABOUT NUMBERS
Numbers are very critical in any election set up. Currently Zanu Pf has all the machinery and they have done all the mathematics on how to win an election. What the opposition need to do is to make sure that every Zimbabwean is registered to counter rigging tactics. Numbers are very important. Even when coming up with a coalition you need to calculate well, who is who and what is he or she going to bring on the table. You can’t waste time discussing with someone without any meaningful following.
INDEPENDENT ELECTION COMMISSION
With Zambian scenario we had a serious challenge because there was no independent election commission. IEC is very important for transparency purposes and at the same time it gives accurate information for verification purposes. One cannot trust ZEC to give adequate information. In Zambia Hakainde Hichilema claimed rigging but he didn’t have any evidence and he was given 14 day period to present his evidence of rigging but he failed. Independent election commission is very vital in coordination with the civic society on election grievances. The MDCD and other like-minded opposition should be very careful with all election matters there is no time to cry over spilled milk. 2018 is critical to them and people cannot afford to have another 5 years in the wilderness. Hichilema cried foul but he didn’t have the information, when I look at him I see a weak leader in him because instead of making a lot of noise he is supposed to be working on electoral reforms and campaigning for reforms that guarantee free and fair elections. As we speak Zambia is in flames because of an irresponsible leader. Edgar Lungu will be the republican President of Zambia till 2021 and that fact remains. Once results are announced it’s difficult to reverse or change. In order to avoid that scenario political parties should work hard now and work on all irregularities to avoid problems.
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IS THE FACE OF AN ELECTION
Once a coalition makes a mistake of candidates’ selection then everything will automatically go wrong. There has been a lot of bickering on who should lead the coalition. Looking at the possible candidates are Tsvangirai, Biti, Mujuru, Ncube, Ngarivhume, Mangoma and Dabengwa. The truth is Tsvangirai is the game changer in zim politics. Once you remove Morgan Tsvangirai on the map, then there will be serious voter apathy. African politics depend on party decisions rather than individualism. For Zimbabwe it is either Mugabe or Tsvangirai for now or either Zanu Pf or MDC T. looking at the current scenario, Tsvangirai is the only opposition figure who is able to pull strong numbers for the coalition, by changing the candidate and bringing in a person like Mujuru, most people will not vote. So it is wise for the coalition to think around Tsvangirai as the strongest brand in the opposition politics. There is need for people to have critical examination on this matter. Zambians vote on tribal and regional lines and it will be difficult for people to vote for Hichilema given the fact that he is a tonga it will be difficult for him to convince the bembas and easterners who constitute the majority. Even at constituency levels the coalition should be very careful by imposing candidates on people. There should be careful selection, on who should be a councillor and an Mp.
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as the Head of MINDS which is responsible for policy research and analysis. He is also an academic and researcher. He can be contacted at email@example.com