By The Travelling Soul
It’s 22:29 on Saturday the 24th of January 2014 and my neighbourhood has just broken into celebration. People and children are screaming in the road. Cars driven around constantly hooting and there are even firecracker displays. Ifintu niLungu has become the chorus of the night. A hectic and very tense 4 days after the Zambian people took to the polls, the Electoral Commission of Zambia has finally announced the winner of the 2015 Presidential Election. Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front is the 6th President of Zambia.
These elections were necessitated by the passing away of Michael Chilfuya Sata in November last year, who died 3 years into his presidential term. Under the late Sata’s government, Edgar Lungu was the Minister of Defence and was frequently the Acting President when Sata left the country. A few months before the President’s death, the then Minister of Defence, Wynter Kabimba was dismissed and Lungu took over as Ministry of Defence. This move saw him serve as the Minister of Defence, Minister of Justice and the Acting President of Zambia for about 2 months. The decision regarding PF’s representative in these elections was not easily reached as there were 11 people from within the party who expressed interest in seeing through Sata’s legacy including his widow Dr Christine Kaseba and son Mulenga Sata.
Once the in-house issues were settled, Edgar Lungu travelled around the country campaigning. When other parties were promising all sorts of changes and transformations, the only things that appeared on the PF campaign material was the tagline “Ifintu niLungu” which loosely translates to “Lungu is the deal”. His campaign schedule was so hectic, he actually missed the Presidential Candidates’ debates where other candidates came out to present their cases and shared their visions and plans for Zambia. Lungu never made it to a single one of these debates and though this shocked some of us, judging by the outcome announced tonight, it seems a large chunk of the electorate did not care much for the employment, economic and constitutional strategies promised by others. Not even the legalising of marijuana promised by the Green Party seemed to have swayed voters.
Judging from the amount of noise and celebration outside, we can safely say #ZambiaDecides and Edgar Lungu is the people’s choice but there are a few important facts regards this election that makes the story a little more interesting. The strongest contender in this election, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) lost this election only by 1.66% margin. UNPD scored 46.67% of the votes against PF’s 48.33%. In other countries this may have necessitated a run-off as the presidential candidate needs to have at least 51% of the votes but this is currently not the case under the current Zambian constitution. Amongst the changes that the UNPD was promising: a new constitution that would require the 51% win for presidential candidates.
Other frequently expressed areas of concern include the fact that the Zambian Air Force that was responsible for bringing in the ballots from the other areas of Zambia and the judges and legal personnel who headed the Electoral Commission were actually under Lungu’s Ministries of Justice and Defence. The issue of tribes was subtly expressed on the street. Hakainde Hichilema is a Tonga, a tribe apparently accused of tribalism tendencies. Interestingly, some people acknowledged his competency, but could never get past the idea of being ruled by a Tonga.
I would say PF has a lot of work to do before the 2016 Presidential elections which are mandatory according to the constitution. They got a run for their money this time around and 2016 is all the more dangerous terrain for them should they fail to up to their game but then again This Is Africa! Unless there are some radical changes and finally people care about the “how” of all the politicians; promises, people can get over the differences in religion, tribe and whatever other trivial differences we use to discredit competent people, we keep walking the same cycle over and over again.
Meanwhile Ifintu niLungu – One Zambia One Nation!!
Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org