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The 2016 presidential election will be battle of giants (Part 2)

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HH waves at supporters

HH waves at supporters

By Bill Kapinga

As Hakainde Hichilema or HH would himself put it during the last Presidential by-elections, the UPND leader was indeed in the penalty box waiting to take the spot kick. When the ref finally blew the whistle, he unfortunately missed the penalty much to the chagrin of his dedicated supporters. Once again, HH will be in the penalty area sometime next year. Is he going to deliver this time around?

The conditions are near perfect for HH to put the ball into the back of the net. There will be hundreds of miners who have lost their jobs in the mines cheering him on, thousands of disillusioned youths eager to punish PF for failing to provide them jobs as per promise, and generally several incensed voters fed up of tightening their belts while those in government are seemingly wining and dining.

But does this entirely entail easy passage for HH into State house?
Not at all! PF still commands considerable support in their strongholds. This is further buoyed up by the support they still expect from MMD as witnessed recently in parliament when the house passed the constitution amendment bill.

President Lungu waves at the audience during the celebrations

President Lungu waves at the audience during the celebrations

Given the dire economic environment currently prevailing in the nation, particularly on the Copperbelt, chances of HH trouncing Lungu in the elections are of course much brighter than last year. Although PF leaders may want to bury their heads in sand and pretend UPND doesn’t pose a real threat to their hold on power, deep down their hearts they know the party is breathing heavily on their necks.

This is probably the reason why PF cadres don’t want to stop trailing UPND leaders where ever they venture and attempt to derail their meetings at whatever cost! They went after HH on the Copperbelt and followed him all the way to Western province. And not so long ago, PF cadres tracked GBM in Northern Province and subjected him to filthy insults! Instead of censuring or caging the culprits, the police in Kasama ordered GBM to restrict his movements to the parameter of his yard for his own safety!

However, this shouldn’t be reason enough for UPND to grow wings and conclude that come 2016, they’ll be laughing all the way to State house. That “revolutionary atmosphere” of 1990s that dislodged UNIP from power or indeed the 2011 one that ushered PF in office cannot easily be detected in the air.

What then should be the way forward for UPND?

As in football, courting other political players is a necessary evil! As HH will once again be taking that penalty kick; he would perhaps require Edith Nawakwi and Wynter Kabimba to cover him on either flank, so that when the ball deflects either of the two can finish off the job.

Electoral alliances are common world over. In the UK for instance, Conservatives once went to bed with Liberal Democrats and formed a coalition government. In Brazil where Kabimba is borrowing his socialist agenda, the Workers party is governing with several other parties.

By the way, Kabimba regularly sends his party officials to Brazil for training. And closer to home in RSA, the ANC has been in a coalition government with the Communists and some unions since the country returned to democratic rule. Politics create strange bed-fellows; who knew that one day RB would even picture himself campaigning for PF; a party that once ridiculed and subsequently removed him from power.

How do Kabimba and Nawakwi come into the picture?

File: Patriotic Front-PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba welcomes MMD Mpongwe Member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe

File: Patriotic Front-PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba welcomes MMD Mpongwe Member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe

Whilst he served PF Secretary General, Kabimba did a good job creating party structures around the country and planting his ardent followers in influential positions everywhere. And when he went on to form his own party, a number of PF members resigned from the party and joined him.

Others are just waiting for parliament to be dissolved, you will see them jumping ship in droves!

Edith Nawakwi

Edith Nawakwi

On the other hand, the other PF members or sympathizers that are somehow disappointed with the current leadership are much inclined to easily warm-up to FDD leader Edith Nawakwi.

These are to be found mainly in the northern parts of the country. Little wonder why FDD won a Ward in a hotly contested by-election in Luapula province recently, and has been emerging second to PF in most by-elections held in the area.

Unless the opposition put their egos aside and identify common grounds on which to collaborate, they must brace themselves for another shocking defeat at the hands of a more resurgent PF next year!

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