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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Lungu takes power, HH concedes defeat

Edgar Lungu (PF) has won with the margin of around 20,000 - 40,000 or thereabouts according to our projections.  Many of you have already been following our Facebook and Twitter updates where we projected this outcome two days ago..

Hakainde Hichilema (UPND) has already conceded defeat in the presidential elections but insists that the elections have been manipulated and stolen from him. He has urged his supporters to remain calm and focus on 2016.

Speaking at a press briefing held at Radisson Blu Hotel this morning, HH says he wont contest the elections results ECZ is about to announce shortly. He instead said his energies will be diverted to the 2016 election campaign.

Four immediate observations. First, these have actually been the most exciting elections that Zambia has ever held. HH is to be commended for being part of that story and for immediately looking forward rather than to the courts.

Secondly, all observers have said this has been the best election Zambia has ever held, perhaps only bettered by 1991. Diplomats have spoken of how proud Zambia should be at how the elections were conducted.

As the Deputy Chief Justice and ECZ Chairperson Irene Mambilima said when dismissing the allegations, "We conducted the poll in an open manner. We witnessed the voting together,we counted together with all parties, we verified together. So if we stole the votes, we stole it together".

Thirdly, following on from the second point, it is unfortunate HH has called the entire election a sham. That undermines the democratic process. It does not strengthen it. Don't throw the baby with the bath water. It is poor leadership.

Finally, and more worrying, it does not appear that HH has recognised just how divisive these ejections have been. UPND only won in three provinces. The elections were close because of higher turn out there.

In short, though UPND's electoral strategy was effective but unpatriotic. They planned to govern Zambia from three provinces. This has deepened the ethnic divide. HH should have used this occasion to acknowledge this and reach out to the other seven provinces.

Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014


  1. From The Condor:

    I have always read this blog with an inherent assumption that it is well researched, factual, and unbiased. So it came as something of a disappointment to find that in this article you have actually pandered to general stereotypes about HH and UPND as a tribal party. I admit you have not used that expression in your posting - but it is implicit.

    While I fully agree with you on the general tone of the article I felt compelled to correct some statements that are indicative of the pandering to stereotypes that I mentioned earlier. Take this statement for example:

    "Finally, and more worrying, it does not appear that HH has recognised just how divisive these ejections have been. UPND only won in three provinces. The elections were close because of higher turn out there"

    UPND actually won in 4 provinces: Central, North-Western, Southern, and Western

    In addition to that UPND came a very commendable 2nd in Lusaka province (104k to 179k), and won a seat in Eastern Province (remember Michael Sata did not win a single seat there in 2011 - Rupiah Banda won all of them).

    The other incorrect statement in that quote is this: "The elections were close because of higher turn out there" - I assume by "there" here you mean in the 3 provinces. In fact only Southern Province turnout was remarkably high. Western Province was in fact lower than the national average, and North-Western not significantly different to Lusaka. But that said we really should commend any politician who can marshal his strongholds to engage the population in the act of this democratic process. Justice Mambilima expressed concern not about high turn out in Southern Province, but about the low turn out in places like Luapula and Eastern province which both fell bellow the national average. This voter apathy is much more dangerous in a democracy, and that is what we should be seeking to address.

    Finally I don't think many people actually realise that in 2011 Rupiah Banda won both Western and North-Western Provinces. HH won only one province last time. So it is a remarkable achievement that while both PF and MMD votes have collapsed dramatically (MMM is dead - and that should worry them in 2016, and PF polled half of what Sata polled with a little help from MMD voters who followed Rupiah Banda to the PF), however UPND's vote has gone up by over 50% - in virtually every province apart from Muchinga and Luapula.

    So I think there is some lessons for HH to take from this Election - but I would suggest that the one lesson he does not need to re-learn is that of leading a regional party. He has learned that lesson and is doing something about it - and I think it is incumbent on all of us who seek to comment objectively on these issues to do so from a position of fairness and not to pander to the stereotypes that have pertained in Zambia about UPND for a long time.

    Thank you for your post nevertheless - it was well written otherwise.

    The Condor

  2. Interesting that you chose not to publish my earlier comments on this article. I guess that speaks volumes in itself really doesnt it. A credible blog should never be afraid of being corrected. The Condor

  3. First, these elections were certainly not as sordid as 2001 or 1996 but they were still not clean. That said we should be happy that they turned out so well. On the other hand a vice-presidential running mate clause in the constitution would obviate the need for the expense, turmoil and division occasioned by the president being incapacitated.

    Second, HH won in four provinces, not three. He took Central as well as Southern and the two western provinces. However, Central is split along a Bemba/Tonga line and HH won in Tonga areas, Lungu in Bemba ones. The Zambian vote, and politics, has split along ethno-linguistic lines. HH is not the sole culprit for this though. People in a given area choose to vote for him, he does not guide their hands. If the people of these regions vote for him it is because the other side is not doing enough to induce them to vote for them; so the PF could be equally guilty of tribalism just by looking at the same result.

    As for high turnout in UPND strongholds, that is what the people in those areas wanted to do, weather permitting. You cannot cry foul when some citizens choose not to exercise their rights-it is their fault for not doing so, not the fault of those who do exercise them. If someone chooses to not exercise their right to free speech must we all do likewise for fear of disadvantaging them?

    On the other side of the coin PF governed from one province for the last three years. The least populous and newest one at that. The cabinet and senior civil service has been heavily stacked in favour of people from Muchinga out of all proportion to their share of the population: does this not smack of tribalism? A further point is that PF could be said to have won in Eastern: because RB jumped ship and Lungu hails from there. Does this fact not show that PF is as willing to play the regional/tribal card as UPND? This would make them unpatriotic and just the Front (discuss).

    In short, rather than blame the looser for the problem of tribalism we should consider why people are increasingly feeling the need to vote along tribal lines. What is going wrong in society? The most important reason is likely to be the highly politicised nature of the economy: if your group is in power then you prosper and others do not. When this is the case the urge to vote in a tribalist manner is strong. And whose fault is this situation? Every government since 2001 when tribal economics came to the fore. One Zambia, One Nation is dying and the surest sign is that we start singling out one ethnic group to blame. The next step is saying that all will be well if only those pesky 'other people over there' weren't around and then 'maybe we should fix them'. Every Zambian is responsible, not just those who voted for the losing side. The problem is that neither of the two big parties are likely to be gracious in victory or defeat and their supporters now expect to eat when they win and to lord it over the losers. The root of tribalism is the perception that 'we' are not getting anything while 'they' are getting fat-and that is the fault of those in power being neither gracious nor sagacious.


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