Do you hear what I am hearing? The sound of Christmas bells? 11 days to Christmas in August? Are you feeling a little…merry and bright? It’s definitely not December. In fact, it is perfect weather to stay indoors, but guess what? August 11 is definitely CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST. That’s right, Zambia will be celebrating Christmas in August with an absolutely opportunity to elect the next leader of the republic.
As of July 31st, there were 6,698,372 certified registered voters (www.elections.org.zm), with Lusaka and Copper-belt being the highest in the nation. See the breakdown of numbers by region and also my calculation of regional percentages as the ratio of the total number of registered voters nationwide. Looking at the most recent voting trends of 2011 and 2015, and the average turnout of 43% (2011-54% and 2015-32%), it will be quite remarkable if half of the registered voters brave the chilly wind to exercise the basic right and responsibility to vote and have a say in the formation of government, given the pockets of political related violence in the swing regions (Lusaka and Copper-belt).
Thus it is imperative that both HH and Lungu give their voters a reason to get out and vote in numbers.
Lungu: Lusaka and Copper-belt are a must WIN or else more you should start preparing a concession speech. Lusaka and Copper-belt are cosmopolitan regions and tend to have younger voters with less party affiliation. If I were you I would focus on making sure that the younger voters get out in numbers to vote. HH is going in the race with a 2% advantage based on his UPND base. I wouldn’t invest much resources in Northern or Muchinga as Muchnga has the least number of registered voters national wide. Winning half (50%) of the combined votes from both Lusaka and Copper-belt will only put you at 49% (33% +16%). Your path to retain State House is through Lusaka and Copper-belt and you have to breakout with more than 60% plus minimizing losing the Bemba vote in Northern and Muchinga. As can be seen form the total number registered voters, HH has 2% more registered voters in his traditional UPND base than PF.
HH: you are going in this race with a 2% advantage based on the total number of registered voters in your UPND base. Winning half (50%) of the combined votes from Lusaka and Copper-belt will put you at 51% (35% + 16%), without factoring in the Bemba vote in Northern and Muchinga. If I were you, I would focus my resources and go after the Bemba vote in Northern and Muchinga. Winning at least quarter (25%) of the combined Bemba vote will give you the fire wall you need to get you to State House. As the challenger you need to work extra harder, as in any election anywhere in the world, the incumbent tend to have an advantage with the government machine, and in many cases that’s what makes the difference between winning and losing.
Number don’t lie. Winning an election is game of numbers. You have to know your base and get many voters to vote. This election is crucial and it’s do or die for both HH and Lungu. Don’t rely on the slogans, cadres, GBM factor or development factor to win you the elections. If half of the registered voters may not get out to vote, even though that might not be the case because of the parliamentary and counsellor elections, each party has to work extra harder to get its base out.
I wish the best to all the candidates and their supporters. If you want to celebrate Christmas in August, see your presidential and parliamentarian candidate win, you have to get out in numbers and vote. With the new constitution in place, the next time Zambia will have Christmas outside December will be in 2021, and that will be a long time to wait.
God bless and may the best deserving candidate WIN.
Mr. Nsambila Mbolela, is a native of Mufulira-Copper-Belt, currently based in the USA, a founding member of Zambia Institute of Transparency and Accountability (ZITA). ZITA is a Zambian Think Tank non-profit organization based in Canada-Zambia, whose mission is to promote public debate and awareness on issues of good governance, democracy and free and fair market economy in Zambia and Africa as whole. The author is a regular political and economic contributor to this organization. http://www.zitazambia.com/