Opinion

Namulambe’s Exit: It’s The Rural Vote at Play

Gabriel NamulambeThe Patriotic Front is sending a very clear message. It has started engaging in campaigns for the 2016 elections. And one thing for sure is President Michael Sata and his team will not be as popular among urban voters as they were in 2011 if they continue on the path they have adopted. They have discerned and can see it. Their actions are not consistent with their promises.

At least if they lamentably failed that bogus 90 days promise, they could have shown some remorse and course of action suggesting they had turned back on their supporters. Now their inconsistent is even getting to the top leadership. They need a strategy to stay in power.

And their only way to retain power is to count on the rural vote. This is why President Sata and his team are busy trying to penetrate critical areas. Not only is the rural voter easily manipulated in African set ups, and Zambia to be specific, it also becomes much more easier to rig election results if the opposition is divided and the ruling party has a presence in those remote places.

Recent events in the country seem to suggest President Sata and his team are determined to stay in power by hook or crook. They will do whatever they can to entice opposition members to defect and cause expensive and unnecessary by-elections. Then they will sponsor some elements to destabilize the opposition so that their strength going into the 2016 election is more or less reduced.

President Sata has invited traditional leaders from various places in the country. He has met chiefs from Southern, Eastern, North Western and Muchinga. This will continue in the name of developmental programmes when infact the motive is something else.

The real reason behind these meetings is for chiefs to assume roles as PF campaign agents in their chiefdoms. This will help the PF, as they seem to believe, to assert themselves among the crucial rural vote.

And for this, President Sata has identified some weak souls in the opposition whose sole mission as politicians is to fulfill the needs of their bellies and not the very people that take them to that respected building at Manda Hill.

Gabriel Namulambe is one politician that they will definitely want on their side whether he faces corruption charges or not. At this time, it does not matter whether President Sata is allergic to corruption or not. In any case, who in Zambian politics don’t know that President Sata says things he does not mean.

Today, he is allergic to corruption but tomorrow he will be bedfellows with the corrupt. And this is what Zambians can discern from the flip-flopping President. It’s a matter of expedience, the same expedience they claim some of their members are showing.

Namulambe was until yesterday Mpongwe Member of Parliament on the MMD ticket. In the recent past, he issued suspicious statements in support of President Sata to prepare his re-alignment. All those were to prepare a way that he was about to jump into the boat. This is the same boat Namulambe despised some 15 months ago.

It is not that Namulambe was cleared of stealing those bicycles. But the PF is in a hurry to penetrate Copperbelt rural. The votes in Kafulafuta, Mpongwe, Lufwanyama and Masaiti will be very crucial. Mpongwe, for instance, has the highest number of voters in Copperbelt rural standing at 34, 642 registered voters as at 2011 followed by Lufywanyama which has 33, 608.

The sum total number of registered voters from the four constituencies stands at 113, 914 from a total of 845, 569 in the entire Copperbelt region which without an iota of doubt is the PF’s biggest stronghold.

And if President Sata and his group will lose some popularity from urban and peri-urban Copperbelt, the rural vote should be their gain. That is the reason they will do everything within their means to get Mpongwe in the next bye-election which the Electoral Commission of Zambia will set for not later than March 13, 2013.

Whether President Sata contests the Presidency or not, the PF popularity in urban areas will dwindle and it is from the rural areas that they hope to maximize on the losses from those traditional areas.

Of course, they will have to forget about Southern Province since it is opposition UPND’s “vote-belt”. There will be a lot of difficulties for President Sata in Western Province because its people feel betrayed on the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 promise but they are working hard to dislodge MMD in North Western and Eastern Provinces.

While Luapula, Northern and Muchinga are traditionally PF, a united opposition with MMD’s Nevers Mumba playing a prominent role in its leadership, there is room to penetrate the three regions.

Other than holding press briefings in Lusaka, it’s important for the opposition machinery to be on the ground. This is the time to agree on a firm position and begin to prepare to meet Sata and his PF as a united front.

It will be a mountain to climb for the UPND alone to the 2016 elections and the same applies to the MMD, not to mention ULP, ADD, FDD and NAREP. The only way the opposition can mount a strong and sustained campaign that will stop this emerging dictatorial regime determined to create a one party state is through a united force.

There is very little to worry about urban areas because the PF is already decampaigning itself. There are a lot of issues that those who voted the President Sata are today dissatisfied about. In Lusaka and Copperbelt, it will not be too long before signs will be clear that the PF no longer hold the bragging right they are the most popular in those areas.

Take the mealie meal shortage, the fuel crisis, the increase load shedding and the rampant corruption allegations against PF senior members like secretary general Wynter Kabimba and his defence counterpart Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba.

These will come to haunt the ruling party and the urban voters will probably be the most affected.

As for Nevers Mumba and Hakainde Hichilema, it is time to continue visiting the chiefs in the regions. Don’t be scared of arrests. They will help you score a point or two and that comes with a few votes to your advantage too.

Namulambe is gone. His belly between now and 2016 is assured of not running dry. If he retains the Mpongwe seat, which is a high likelihood, it will even be better for him but if he loses he still has the ruling party on his side.

There is no need to look back because some weak souls, like Namulambe and many others, will fall on the wayside but there are rewards for those that will stand firm with the people.

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