Will NDC fire their Consultant for losing all by-elections?

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Kambwili raises the NDC symbol on his right is party Secretary General Mwenya Musenge

I spent considerable amount of days in reflecting on the by elections which saw the Patriotic Front win the majority of those elections. Seeing the campaigns and rallies held by all the contesting political parties few days before the elections was too brief to get a real feel about possible outcomes of the election, but it was obvious even in that brief moment that the local government elections were going to be bitterly contested. Including the upcoming Chilanga seat.

UPND and PF were fighting desperately to retain the seats they had control of. The Patriotic Front was fighting on all fronts to stop the bulldozers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the shark released in its hired Political Consultant in Chishimba Kambwili to test the waters especially on the Copperbelt. All eyes were on him especially that of the PF to see if NDC could upset a delicate apple cart on the Copperbelt. The stakes were very high indeed, and it was easy to see that it was going to be a bruising battle.

The NDC swaggered around, and gave notice of its supreme confidence that it will win. In an election which has yielded many interesting pointers. Coming only a few months despite the spirited efforts by the NDC to take over the politically strategic province of the Copperbelt. NDC is seeking a foothold in a region where it can barely breath.

Contrary, to the demagogue hypothesis that because PF won most of them then they are still popular. It is also true that MMD at the hilt also won by elections. There is a delicate myth that requires an honest analysis with byelections. Its possible that politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs.

In this context, by-elections also assume a greater political significance. We can generate a sense that the authority of the government is ebbing away, if its majority dwindles. But this is a discussion for another day.

Supreme in the recent by-election is the dismal performance of the all too noisy charlatans in the NDC. The outcome was consistent with the phrase all bark and no bite, the noise makers and false prophets. Kambwili who has been the mastermind of NDC’s campaign has effectively delivered zero victory for what he was politically hired for. It’s cold comfort to accept that an undesirable election result lies in the accursed alchemy between a largely uninformed, easily manipulated public and an unscrupulous, impenetrable political machine, but at least that absorbs disappointed voters who feel guilty that they didn’t do more to influence the outcome.

The NDC is still firmly rooted around the person of Kambwili, and he is therefore both its greatest asset and greatest liability. The period shortly after an election is important in defining their leadership. Arguably, the NDC has struggled to provide a clear sense of purpose, too often letting opponents define it for them.
NDC were bamboozled and bumfuzzled, now will they keep the consultant whose strategy appears not to yield any fruits? Unlike them the Rainbow Party shortly after their SG was fired from PF managed to win a local govt by election. The NDC like the UPND desperately need a leader. Lessons for NDC and possibly all of us in opposition is how to be an effective opposition.

There ought to be some serious soul-search in the top achelons of the NDC if at all there exist any. Who knows, a few sobering conclusions may register in minds long convinced of the idea that Zambian people are tired of PF.

Alongside this, difficult questions are being asked about the purpose and future direction of this party. Closer analysis of their performance in marginal seats like the recent ones is only likely to deepen the gloom.

In the meantime, it should be remembered that NDC like any other party has an important constitutional role to fill, as an Opposition. For NDC, any effort to gain power will crucially depend on being able to carry out this role effectively. And not the rumor mongering.

For NDC to climb the electoral mountain ahead of them, they may need a divided PF party and policy disasters. But such events can only benefit oppositions electorally if they position themselves effectively.

In this sense NDC has to mature from the Chatterbox politics to portray itself both as competent and as a potential government in waiting. If it struggles to do both – as arguably it does under the leadership of its political consultant Dr Chishimba Kambwili – even monumental political mistakes by the PF may not help it gain even local government presence like the MMD which under difficult times salvaged more than 140 councillors dotted across the country.

The official opposition’s task is to oppose government policies by providing alternatives or feasible solutions, but effective politicians must master the art channelling popular discontent with hard earned facts. This may be made easier if they can be seen to voice the concerns of wider society and not their personal issues. However, in the race to tackle this there is always a temptation to reduce national matters to a personality contest which currently can be seen to have no place in modern and the future of our politics.
They run the risk of channeling the popular mood against themselves.

A primary danger for opposition parties is appearing to leap opportunistically on every problem for government. In opposition, Kambwili should avoid becoming like UPND who could be nicknamed “UPND Bandwagon” for desperately attaching themselves to various populist criticisms of the Lungu government. So while NDC may continue to occasion discomfort on PF, any attacks should be attached to a wider national narrative about areas that should be prioritised and protected, and they may advance further if they manage to damage the PF image as the pro-poor party.

The party has lost elections that have deep symbolic significance for its fortunes, and its present state. It lost an election an event which would have been inconceivable, a few days and months ago, judging by the successful perceptions they have created. The loss could do either of two things: provide a significant and strategic assessment of its weaknesses and strengths, as well as chart a practical way toward; or represent a final seal on its fortunes.

However, if the NDC find a new leader who could be helped by the consultant they could establish themselves positively in the public mind and could be taken seriously. This personality campaign against Lungu is not working. Its a tricky strategy, because a party seeking to lead needs a much broader agenda than a personality contest. What happens if President Lungu doesn’t stand, so they will eventually be facing a new and untested leader. Will they be able to generate a legitimate campaign against a leader who has not yet won a general election?

Finally, my advise to the NDC now that they know that they won the popular vote but lost the election. NDC should go on a diet, they ought to lose some political weight. They appear in perception big but very weak and feeble, incapable of equalling their talk. Like the adage goes power corrupts, but the lack of power corrupts absolutely.

Hon. Prince J. Ndoyi

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One Response to Will NDC fire their Consultant for losing all by-elections?

  1. You tribalist and pf cadre just concentrate with your pf dirty party.we are happy with the leadership of HH.Don’t take us for fools we can clearly smell your dirty tricks which won’t work.Forward with HH forward.Down with haters like you down….

    Musonda
    May 2, 2018 at 10:46 am
    Reply

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