An Analysis: Have Sata votes demobilized?

Filed under: Politics,Special Comments |

By Henry Kabinga

A few weeks ago, the Post newspaper ran an editorial in which it was suggested that Edgar Lungu may win next Tuesday’s election because the late president Michael Sata’s 2011 votes had not demobilized and would most likely go to Lungu. I have spent some time trying to figure out the veracity of this assumption and have come out with some personal thoughts over the subject.

My starting point in this discourse was the question of who exactly Sata’s 2011 voters were, geographically and demographically. Due to limited data and data sources, the demographic vote is not easy to decipher. Without a credible system of polling registered voters via proper statistical methods, we are left with analyses that must make do with a myriad of assumptions. These assumptions may not hold out in reality. I make this point as a disclaimer for this article.

We need to start by understanding the factors that led to Sata’s votes which countrywide numbered 1,170,966 representing 42 percent of the votes cast. This was against Rupiah Banda’s 987,866 (36%) and Hakainde Hichilema’s 506,763 (18%). The table below shows the votes scored by the top three contenders by province as captured from the Electoral Commission of Zambia website:

GraphThe above table reveals certain fundamentals and variables that were in existence in 2011 but which are markedly different from today’s realities. Some pundits think this voting pattern may be replicated in Tuesday’s vote but in my view, this would be a fatal error in thought.

Let us now look at some of the factors that were there then but are not there today. Firstly, there was Sata. For all his failings, nobody can doubt Michael Sata’s campaign capabilities. Sata was the ultimate man of ‘African politics.’ Gifted with the gab, Sata was a political orator with the common touch. He appeared to empathize with the masses, seemed to fully understand their plight and was very quick in offering solutions. It is of course true that most of his solutions lacked depth. They were often superficial but being what his audience wanted to hear, Sata had no qualms suggesting them for purposes purely of getting elected. As it turned out, when he ascended to power, most of his promises proved to be a large hoax. The current PF candidate does not possess the charisma of Sata and that in itself deducts from the 1.1 million votes of 2011. That most of the 90 day promises have not been fulfilled may in itself haunt the Lungu campaign ahead of Tuesday.

Another factor to consider is that Sata was a veteran politician who had served in two previous governments and had competed for the presidency on three previous occasions prior to 2011. He was in effect a household name. In contrast, the current candidate, Edgar Lungu is not widely known and many Zambians, especially in rural areas will be seeing him for the first time. I am reliably informed that some people just outside Lusaka think it is Guy Scott standing in this election! On the other hand, Lungu’s major competitor Hichilema has, like Sata in 2011, been in three presidential elections and therefore a campaign veteran.

As a matter of fact, this campaign has to be considered as the best that he has run so far both in content and outreach, a measure of the experience that he has gathered along the way, a vital ingredient to winning. It is also not in Lungu’s favour that the only reason being advanced for his election by the current PF campaign is that he was ‘anointed’ by Sata, hardly a strong point to use in a highly competitive election.

The 2011 election was effectively a referendum on MMD rule. Having been in power for twenty years, it was clear that Zambians wanted a change of government. MMD rule had been characterized by accusations of massive corruption, intolerance of divergent views and general mismanagement of the economy, except perhaps under the reign of Mwanawasa. Rupiah Banda was not a well-liked president by most Zambians and his often antagonistic statements against his opponents and Western donor countries did not go down well with most voters. With the population looking for change, Sata appeared to be the candidate most likely to beat Banda. It is therefore safe to assume that some of the votes Sata garnered were those of disaffected Zambians who given another chance would vote differently. The question does arise as to which way these votes will go come Tuesday.

Related to the last point is Rupiah Banda as a factor in Tuesday’s election. Having been a candidate and runner up in the last election with close to one million votes, Banda’s votes are up for grabs. Will these votes follow Banda and translate in Lungu votes, now that Banda is rooting for Lungu? My own answer to this question is yes and no. Yes in the sense that Banda as a former head of state still carries some influence in the country. No in the sense that a lot of his supporters, including MMD party officials and members of Parliament have chosen to back Hichilema.

This is particularly a major factor in the Eastern Province where Banda had a significant influence. With a number of traditional rulers and politicians breaking ranks with Banda to go with Hichilema, the Eastern vote may be too close to call between Lungu and Hichilema. There is also the not so small matter of unpaid peasant farmers who make up a large voting block of this mainly agricultural province who will vote for Hichilema as a protest against PF agricultural policies.

In the rest of the country, Banda’s vote could go either way but indications are that in areas such as Central, Southern, Western, Northwestern and parts of Copperbelt Provinces, Banda’s vote has been wholly taken up by Hichilema. If the above table is taken as a reference point, this is a huge boost to the Hichilema campaign and could well decide the election result.

Hichilema’s showing in 2011 in the Bemba speaking areas of Luapula, Northern and Copperbelt Provinces was to say the least, abysmal. Out of a vote of 1,059,161 attributable to the three contenders in the above table, Hichilema only managed 22,641 representing two per cent votes in these very significant voting areas! If this trend manifests in this election, Edgar Lungu would win. However, indicators seem to suggest the 2011 trend will not occur this time around. This is because Hichilema has done a lot more campaigns in these areas, and assisted by personalities that have a following in these areas such as Geoffrey Mwamba, Felix Mutati, Mutale Nalumango, Katele Kalumba and Patrick Mucheleka, Hichilema is likely to get a significant vote here. How significant still remains to be seen.

If the above scenario is contrasted with Lungu’s likely performance in the UPND strongholds of Southern, Central, Northwestern and Western Provinces, where he does not appear to have made any inroads, the net gain may be in favour of Hichilema, but only if he turns out a stronger showing in Copperbelt, Northern and Luapula Provinces. I state this with the very strong belief that the UPND vote in its strongholds is not only intact, but is likely to improve by very significant margins this Tuesday.

A rather underplayed matter in this election is the Wynter (winter?) effect in the form of the newly formed Rainbow Party. This party has already wrought devastation on the PF with the reported defections of very significant PF structures to this new formation. Whole provincial, district and constituency committees have reportedly moved to Rainbow at a most critical time. This has left the PF campaign severely crippled and the effects will surely manifest in the election result.If you ask me, another minus to the PF vote.

The Munkombwe effect on UPND is not healthy for their campaign. Rather than add to Hichilema’s vote, Daniel Munkombwe has just done some damage which should not be underplayed. Hichilema’s failure to censure this loose cannon at the rally at which he uttered the words ‘it is time for a Tonga to rule’ was a big miscalculation. How significantly this translates voting wise is yet to be seen, though coming late as it did in the campaign, when most voters have made up their minds, I doubt the damage will be that fatal.

Is this election too close to call? Some say it is but without a proper yardstick by which to measure all the variables, all we are left with are assumptions. In my view, this election could even well turn out to be a landslide for one of the candidates. Which one? I leave you to choose but of course, make your own assumptions! Pleasant voting and may the best candidate win



11 Responses to An Analysis: Have Sata votes demobilized?

  1. Reatining 70% of SATA’s votes and gaining 50% of RB’s votes will make a winning formula for Edgar Lungu. HH will lose but with a thin margin of 100,000 or so votes.

    January 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    • That’s wishful thinking my friend!It is however important for u to do everything you can to protect yourself from high blood pressure so for now you can continue with your wishful thinking till reality unfolds after the elections

      T. Hatembo
      January 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm

  2. Dont be fooled, things have changed from 2011, now it’s the opposite, ni HH fye

    John kabengele
    January 18, 2015 at 7:17 pm

  3. Very intelligent accountant in Kabimba. I knew u from university of Zambia Ndola campus UNZANDO. This is the type of analysis we like with facts for every one to see. The data provided is there for every one to see

    January 18, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    • But EL in 2011 had zero votes so he starts from zero while HH has a whole province if at all that the only voters he has.

      January 19, 2015 at 11:50 am

  4. This analysis is so flawed and the author’s analysis is based on what he wants to happen. A well balanced article will look at both sides of the argument. The author says that “most MMD MPs” are campaigning for HH when the facts are that 25 MPs of the 37 MMD MPs are campaigning for PF and a few are with Nevers Mumba, this means that very few MMD MPs are actually campaigning for UPND.

    The author doesn’t mention anything about the infrastructure development that the PF has undertaken in the last three years and what its effects will be on the vote.

    There is no actual proof that late Sata’s vote of 2011 has demobilised. The facts are that, in 2012 HH only won in Southern Province, he needs at least six more provinces to be victorious. He has a bigger task than the PF to be victorious.

    Real Brains
    January 18, 2015 at 9:31 pm

  5. Sorry it’s kabinga

    January 18, 2015 at 9:44 pm

  6. Mwebena Zambia namipapapata….just go and vote!This is psychological bullshit to scare you from voting….The whole idea is to create a Voter aparthy which works to the advantage of PF….You are all very learned coluegues,just vote and wait for results…..We have plenty of observers apart from PF and UPND,,,your votes are very safe and rigging an election is not as easy as what is being described here,,,,This Government has no capacity to outplay modern IT or even jam communications effectively without shutting down the entire system,,,Who has ever experienced ATM,online Bank thefts,,,you have to manipulate the server and have a number acccess passwords and its not as easy as it sounds….Bamiyofyani ba PF,its called Propaganda in WAR!its also called Psychological warfare….Just Pick your NRCs and voters Card and vote knowing that your vote is safe….Napapata….Ba ZAF have been contracted to distribute ballot boxes and collect them only after the votes are counted…..Mwebena Zambia Kavoteni twapapata and go in mass and chuck out the”PANGA FAMILY”.

    January 19, 2015 at 4:55 am

  7. The author has intelligibly unearthed the handwriting on the wall..’Zambians can never and shall never be fooled into the politics of street boys like Nsanda. They gave Lungu the impression that he was popular and put their corrupt money behind him, Zambia is bigger than that. Hichilema is definitely going in as President in tomorrow’s election. He will be the most careful president because he has seen how Zambians choose. This is a dawn of the new era in the politics of intelligent Zambians.

    voice of reason
    January 19, 2015 at 5:30 am

  8. Look at table properly guys it’s h h winning by 200000 to 250000 and i challenge this if only no stuffing takes place wwhich the .pf did in 2011 for your information more stuffing was done by .pf than mmd in 2011 were i was also a monitor

    January 19, 2015 at 12:07 pm

  9. We are there at last. The die is cast. Who takes it? It is up to you the voter. We have tried to provide you with the tools of analysis, flawed as they are due to serious limtations such as lack of emperical statistical data and a voting populace cowed by the threats of violence and general intimidation. I have seen the fear on people’s faces and witnessed the horror a panga wielding thug wrings on a frightened street vending mother. These are the variables that we cannot measure in an election until the results are announced but even then, they may not even occur in the statistical equation because the victims will often fail to turn up to do their civic duty as citizens, that is to vote. I shall come up with some post-election analysis which in my view will still be useful given that we only have another eighteen months before another major election.

    Henry Kabinga
    January 19, 2015 at 7:56 pm

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