Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Zambia's Presidential Election

Zambia—(30 October)
After a gruelling and breathtaking fight the MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda won presidential elections by 35,000 votes again the Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata. Indeed, many people expected Sata was going to win given the massive votes he received in urban areas. Sata has cried foul and blamed foreign observers and the MMD government for rigging the elections. The PF is now the strongest opposition political party in Zambia.
There is no need for a conspiracy theory when assessing the results of the 30 October election otherwise than through examining the existing fundamental ethnic and tribal loyalties. Tribalism remains to determine the popularity of political parties in Zambia in the sense that every political leader is strongly supported in his tribal homeland. This became very evident even during their presidential election especially when we look at the care [????] the UPND leader Hakainde Ichilema. The UPND accumulated 100% votes in Southern Province where from its leader Ichilema originates.
Ethnic and tribal loyalties in Zambia are elastic in the sense that political parties may easily manipulate the peasants in rural enclaves through bribery in order to win their votes. The ruling MMD has been doing this ever since it came into power in 1991. Indeed, most people in rural areas are illiterate and politically ignorant in terms of non-existence of news media and absence of well-informed middle-class elites. The only information people in rural areas receive is from the volatile government infrastructure. It has now come to pass that the MMD has lost the previous political following among the majority and politically vocal Bemba-speaking tribal homeland. More or less the MMD is now a political Cinderella in the sense that it does not have a distinctive ethnic and tribal following—the voting patterns that emerged from the 30 October election emphasise this fact.
Thus we may infer that the supposed votes received by the MMD President Rupiah Banda were mostly determined by the economic politicise of the late President Levy Mwanawasa (economic development took place in rural areas).
The October Presidential election was characterised by insults and political defections. Both the previous presidents Kenneth Kaunda and Fredrick Chiluba rallied behind the MMD vice-President Banda. The need to preserve the existing capitalist economic framework was uppermost in most people’s minds—a change in political leadership was going to reverse economic development.
But the workers and university students in urban areas strongly voted for the PF leader Michael Sata. It is the case that economic growth achieved through massive foreign investment and a stable financial balance of exchange has failed to translate itself in terms of free education and employment. Indeed, social poverty and poor salaries and working conditions are on the increase in urban areas. PF leader Sata is now a political force to be reckoned with today and tomorrow.
The ordinary Zambian voter stands to gain nothing from the results of the October election in the sense that income and wealth patterns will remain where they have always remained. The increase in mealie meal prices and the decline in copper prices help to dispel any hopes for a bright future for ordinary Zambians. Indeed, socialism is a political franchise invested in every working-class person to dislodge capitalism from the face of the earth. We in the WSM deeply respect and cherish our political franchise to vote—we cannot misuse it through voting for a political idiot. We can only use it to vote for a classless, moneyless and stateless society—SOCIALISM.

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