The result in Bahati was somewhat expected – since the former member of parliament Harry Kalaba decided not to field anyone under his Democratic Party – while that of Roan was uncertain considering the interest the by-election generated within the ruling Patriotic Front and Chishimba Kambwii’s opposition National Democratic Congress itself that was out to prove the former member of parliament’s muscle in his area. The NDC, with the support of the UPND, formed an electoral pact which worked to deliver victory for the opposition through their candidate Engineer Joseph Chishala. The Patriotic Front, for its part, mobilised itself, using Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo as campaign manager.
On voting day yesterday, we had wished all participating political parties the best in the by-elections and said the best man of them all must win the polls. All the participating political parties, without question, put in their very best to woo voters for their candidates, but the fiercest contest was in Roan between the PF and Kambwili’s NDC. It was a battle of the ‘bigwigs’! The people of these areas have now decided and elected those they consider the best for them, and capable enough to represent their needs. The voters have the ultimate say and they speak through the vote. The result in Roan has shocked many, and excited the NDC, Kambwili particularly, whose political party has gotten the first member of parliament since its formation just about two years ago.
For the Patriotic Front, however, the loss in Roan constituency, which was considered the bedroom of the ruling party for many years, is a serious wake up call to the entire leadership and the membership of the ruling party. We saw an impressive representation from the ruling party camping on the Copperbelt to campaign for their candidate, Joel Chibuye, and that alone was considered an ultimate ‘victory’ by the party’s leadership, more so the campaign manager. But no, what has come out is totally the opposite of the expectations of many in the ruling party, including the top leadership. It is a shock for the ruling party! What could have gone wrong in the once stronghold of the Patriotic Front? Once upon a time, Copperbelt was PF and PF was Copperbelt. It is quite embarrassing for the ruling party to get such humiliating results from an area they had their grip on not so long ago.
There are too many lessons to be learnt by the ruling party from the loss in Roan constituency. Firstly, the Patriotic Front must realise that internal squabbling is its biggest enemy that has ultimately cost them what would otherwise have been their seat. The NDC won in Roan not necessarily because of Kambwili’s popularity but because the PF was highly split and only counted its luck on the availability of campaign resources. This is a pointer that time has come for the Patriotic Front to shake up and off some people that add little or nothing at all to the ruling party’s wellbeing. The leader of the party, President Edgar Lungu, must, as a matter of urgency, act quickly to discard those that have been lying to him about the situation on the Copperbelt and that everything was “intact”. Not doing anything about this will spell more shock for the PF in 2021. The PF secretary general and his team, and the PF party in general, must smell the coffee from this loss in Roan and do something if they are to expect a different result in the coming general elections.
Like we said yesterday, to all those who have won the by-elections, real work now begins. Be sure to fulfill the promises made to the people in your respective areas. And for the PF, despite losing the Roan seat, follow up on those promises made to the people during campaigns and ensure that the government delivers on them since you are the party in power.
The biggest problem of them all was a focus on an individual, and not the people of Roan. The entire campaign team was only focused on dismantling Kambwili, forgetting about what the voters in Roan wanted to hear. What is even more amazing is that Kambwili was not even the candidate in this election. The entire leadership of the PF was misled!
Lastly, we congratulate the NDC, Chishimba Kambwili himself, and the Patriotic Front, the FDD and UPND for their victories in yesterday’s by-elections.