By Chimwemwe Mwanza
Contaminate the economic and social discourse with raw sewer and create enough of a stink that causes all manner of distractions and diversions. It’s a political stratagem that the former ruling Patriotic Front (PF) successfully adopted and deployed over the years with maximum potency. This helped the party to maintain its stranglehold on power.
Scapegoating ridiculous poverty levels to a decades-old state-sanctioned privatisation program, the PF also exploited an ethnic polarised society much to their benefit. Their strategy – casting blame on their chief political opponent – whom they successfully projected to voters as the architect of their misery endured. The inference therein: HH privatised state-owned assets to enrich himself, try giving him levers of power, he will mortgage the country too, was another scaremongering pitch.
Unfortunately, lies have short legs and can barely sustain the weight of truth. Whilst unsustainable, it’s arguable that dividends of such gutter politics largely helped to keep the former ruling party in power but only for a period. And now in opposition, a wounded PF – still smarting from a humiliating defeat is even more cunning and dangerous. Enter Raphael Nakachinda – he of the binoculars fame has become the biggest thorn in the UPND flesh.
Thanks to this brand of politics, Nakachinda and the PF now own and direct Zambia’s socio-economic narrative with the UPND barely managing to keep its head above choppy waters. While true that the PF’s decade-old reign in power drove the economy to ground, HH as the incumbent owns this mess and it’s now his alone to fix. Tellingly, his honeymoon with the youth and unemployed masses that catapulted him to state house is fading fast. This much he acknowledged during his briefing. ‘While we understand your frustration, these things take time to fix,’ he assured.
The question remains though. Has he got the mettle to grasp and fix Zambia’s malaise?
The answer depends on one’s affiliation, yet Nakachinda and the opposition is brutally dismissive of the notion that the Zambian voter is better off now than he was prior to last year’s Presidential polls. Is he correct? On evidence, from the briefing on Monday, the opposition is proficiently succeeding in their quest to project the President as a bitter, vindictive, and petty politician that hasn’t a clue on how to steer the country out of the current economic morass.
Yet HH holds a different view. Validating his performance using economic jargons of tangibles and intangibles, one could tell the difficulty he faces in selling his successes thus far to the grassroot. Nonetheless, he has already embarked on a chest beating victory lap. But not so fast Mr President. Tamuna maniya mulimo boss, alimwi kwamba masimpe tamuna talika. The journey ahead is still tough and rough, nchito yeve yikalipo bwana.
The challenges ahead will require nothing but political tolerance, magnanimity, the courage to dispence with the corrupt and granting autonomy to prosecutorial institutions now ensconced at community house. But does the President have the courage of mind to align with these goals?
While his briefing was punctuated by repeated calls for unity, his demeanor, and consistent threats to dissent betrayed his sincerity. The fact that he devoted a portion of his briefing discussing Nakachinda – speaking derisively of the PF’s Information and Publicity strongman is telling of not only the President’s failings but the effectiveness of the PF’s stratagem. And just how Nakachinda has managed to ensnare him in this skullduggery boggles the mind.
Should he be wasting time unleashing cops on a hapless but loquacious politician? It’s his call but he needs to be reminded that history has a way of sanitising and cleansing rogues. And the poser for the UPND is that it’s becoming a gift that keeps giving – a danger to itself. HH ought to be reminding himself that he was the target of hate speech serving in the opposition trenches, therefore, click baiting by the opposition was bound to intensify now that he has assumed power.
Trouble is the ruling party is constantly falling in Nakachinda’s gameplan – which is to consistently provoke the establishment so his widely publicised incarcerations can grab the attention of both local and international media. The ultimate endgame is for Nakachinda to emerge as a political martyr of sorts. As the adage goes, a stint in jail often serves to embolden a jail bird – and truth is jail is now synonymous with the PF strongman.
At this stage, it’s easy to sence HH’s growing sence of paranoia. For argument’s sake, how does one reconcile the fact that the politician who barely eight months ago rode the wave of social media can now begin to demonise the very platforms that propelled him to statehouse? Isn’t the moniker Bally a creation of social media platforms which he is now demonising?
In the eyes of the opposition, HH seems like a leader who is both on a warpath and a mission to annihilate non-UPND sympathysers. And the sooner he develops a thick skin to criticism, the better. Luckily for him, he still has the sympathy and goodwill of many Zambians to change course. However, goodwill also has an expiry date.
Meanwhile, somebody free Nakachinda so he can keep zooming in on the UPND’s excesses.
About the Author: Mwanza enjoys reading Political History and Philosophy. The only thing he supports is Kabwe Warriors and Liverpool. For feedback, email [email protected]