Things have been going very well for the Patriotic Front as a party. The ruling party has swept almost every contest with ease. This is even in the face of politically damaging incidences that government has had to put up with. There has been the stigma of the US$42 million fire trucks, the high debt volume, occasional locking up of opponents on suspected political grounds and the stigma of political violence. It had seemed the Patriotic Front was in no capacity to survive an election if the electorates were to render their verdict. But the Patriotic Front has swept 13 of the 14 local government elections including the fiercely contested mayoral poll that despite having promised being a tight contest had Miles Sampa resoundingly carrying the day. Some people tried to make a meal of the voter apathy but even in the reduced turn out, the PF still marshalled a lion’s share of the votes.
For a change the playing field was evened out with all political players having an equal opportunity to compete. There were no usual stunts lumped on the police and other law enforcement agencies blocking other people from campaigning. Overs even found favour with the environment that they thrived on a Western style like campaign of door-to-door solicitations.
In this environment even upstarts like the 25-year-old Madalitso Musukwa who stood as an Independent candidate made a mockery of experienced candidates like Saviour Chishimba of the UPP who has made it his daily bread to savagely attack the Patriotic Front. He has learnt to his cost that it would not help his measly political fortunes to hinge his political survival on attacking President Edgar Lungu. It is something his friends in the opposition United Party for National Development have learnt too.
The UPND has suffered such a political battering that they would have to reinvent themselves if the electorates are ever going to take them seriously. They have lived in the illusion that insulting President Lungu would enhance their political fortunes but it has amounted to waned support. They will have to learn to craft their own agenda that could win over the electorates. Even their favoured political currency of violence has lost its steam. It could appear that the UPND fared badly in these elections because there was no violence.
They could not raise the flag and play victim as no one was maiming anyone. It could appear the Pf has been giving a lifeline to repair some of the things that have not sat well with the electorates. It is a vote of confidence they should not take for granted. It could be a long bumpy road to 2021 but for now they can take a moment and savour the glory of victory being mindful that the public expect the very best.