Chris Zumani Zimba, Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer, Researcher and Consultant
When I was president of the University of Zambia Political Science Association (UNZAPOSA) in 2006, I invited and hosted HH at Great East Campus for our weekly political event called “Meet the UNZA Students”. LT1 was filled to full capacity with hundreds of traditional UNZA monks and momas. The MMD government then equally hired and placed their own elite cadres to disturb and intimidate HH. The noise and confusion was uncontrollable and HH could not speak for the first 1 hour. In order to control the noise mob, I engineered and invited Antonio Mandala Mwanza (‘Pompey the Great’), then UNZASU President to speak first but the situation never changed much against my guest. How we resolved it is what constitutes my first attribute as to why HH is the Bayern Munich of Zambian politics with the right political tenacity and character to win the republican presidency in 2021.
“Mr President, I am afraid you may not address this hostile, drunken and noise audience as we are running late. What do you think”? I asked him. Cornelius Mweetwa and Emmanuel Tembo looked very troubled. To my surprise, HH looked relaxed, undisturbed, unshaken and unintimidated. The UPND leader smiled and said “I am ready and comfortable to address them because they cannot bite or kill me”, he responded. When I introduced him to address the house, he impressed everyone on how he diplomatically silenced the house and still managed to fantastically engage and address the students. This is exactly what HH is likely to do at national level in 2021 if he plays his political cards right and the gods remain on his side. In this 2006 UNZA encounter, I saw a true David in HH, a tough shepherd boy who can successfully fight with any lion, shark or elephant alone and unarmed in the jungle. His calm but notorious brave personality of Mfuwe hunters may positively help him to face 2021 with the right political attitude and mental framework to win the presidency in 2021 than most candidates; not even President Lungu will match him in terms of the psychological courage and mental preparedness to swim against the strong political storms of 2021. To me, HH’s background of being a shepherd boy (Kachema) gives him the right positive strong character of political courage-never being shaken, moved and intimidated by any political rival, audience or situation which makes him politically dangerous in the next elections.
In 2021 HH will be like Bayern Munich Football Club that has traditionally enjoyed the monopoly of easily winning the Germany League (Bundesliga) but repeatedly lost the UEFA either at semi or actual finals stage. In 2018 as you already know, Bayern Munich seem to be deadly fixed and structurally determined to win UEFA this time as past experiences seem to have taught them tough but noble lessons at the higher level. This football analogy for Bayern Munich presents the same political interpretation for HH as he has repeatedly lost the presidency either as 2nd or 3rd national choice since 2006 with a consistent thunderous victory in his home trinity provinces of Southern, Western and Northern Western. This simply means 2021 may sweetly present the republican presidency into his hands if he only tops to win three more provinces.
As the ‘permanent regional president’ of his home three provinces who seem to be gaining political popularity in other regions., the negative political forces of regionalism and tribalism are certainly working to his favour and positively fueling HH to be the toughest and dangerous opposition candidate in 2021.
He will be the most experienced, popular and consistent presidential candidate in 2021: For having been on the presidential ballot since 2006, HH will be the most already known and popular presidential candidate in 2021 than all opposition leaders that will be contesting. Apart from Lungu if he will contest, HH will be the second most popular and known household political name countrywide in 2021 which places him at the right probability altar of voters and electorates’ gamble selection. Being the most experienced, known and consistent candidate is one of the exceptional advantages HH will be enjoying in 2021 that should not be undermined or ignored.
In the Football world, ‘FIFA One’ has either been for Genius RC7 of Real Madrid or Great Leonel Messi of Barcelona; that’s how Lungu and HH have stood since 2015. But now there is gifted Mohamad Salah for Liverpool in CK on the scene who stands dangerous to challenge and win ‘FIFA One’ too. Whatever the case, HH may become the most preferred alternative presidential candidate to Lungu in 2021 in many places. Countrywide, he is already known by most voters such that many voters who may feel and decide let down by the performance of Lungu may prefer to naturally try HH than anyone new on the political market unless the new corners undertake aggressive campaigns to sale themselves. By virtue of having contested consistently for the past 16 years, 50% of HH’s campaign is already done for 2021 as some voters still keep his party manifesto, regalia and materials while others consider him as the next heir to the Zambian throne.
The birth of anti Lungu political movements within PF such as the Dr. Chishimba Kambwili’s NDC and Harry Kalaba’s Political Cycle bring HH closer to State House in 2021 than before. In 2015 and 2016 respectively when Lungu was at his best in terms of political popularity and voter marketability, HH only lost with narrow votes respectively. Now that Lungu is losing national voter popularity and does not have some of his key MPs, Ministers and members to win him huge numbers such as CK or HK, HH is seemingly the new ‘Son of Zambia’ posed to win the 2021 presidency than even Lungu himself either in the first or second round vote on a one by one basis except that we may not accurately ascertain how much political injury the Socialist party, NDC or HK movements may do in his ‘trinity provinces’ and other regions where they boast to be strong too; the same political groupings which presents opportunities for HH also presents huge challenges for him.
HH’s regional supporters and ethnic voters in his ‘trinity provinces’ are dangerous passionate patriots, devoted diehard loyalists and reliable political followers who may play a deciding role in 2021. Since 2006 when HH was introduced to national political leadership, he has repeatedly beaten everyone in Southern, Western and North Western provinces with sure victory and his trinity regional voters keep improving in terms of both population explosion, political support, voter registration, voter turnout than Lungu’s provinces of Eastern and Northern. This is positive strength and advantageous political development for HH as there is no presidential candidate on the market who can boost of having such unique positive ingredients, political support base and guaranteed voter potency anywhere in Zambian for 2021 than HH in his trinity provinces; unlike CK who ‘may steal’ Copperbelt, Muchinga, Luapuala and Northern with big numbers, Lungu may fail to have to even three or more provinces to call ‘his own’ in 2021.
Has vast experience on how to win and lose the presidency in Zambia: As the chosen successor of Anderson Mazaka in 2006 who has consistently contested all presidential elections since then, HH will go into the 2021 Presidential and General Elections with most technical knowledge, vast campaign experience and most practical understanding and feel of how to win or lose the presidency in Zambia more than all presidential candidates especially that he has twice lost it by either a small or questionable margins. This puts him into a stronger and better position than most of his rivals.
HH is properly educated and has the right academic credentials for Zambia for 2021: Currently, Zambia is on its knees economically and practically running into sovereign bankruptcy due to the PF government multiple burden of loans and debts from all fronts. In 2021, HH may present himself and stand out as the right self-proclaimed economist and distinguished business tycoon to fix the economic mess and redeem Zambia from this growing national pain and public puzzle for the country than most presidential candidates. In fact, time has also redeemed HH from all malicious accusations that he sold Zambia during the FTJ era as all his accusers have terribly failed to find him with any wrong or criminality around such allegations.
In addition, HH is regionally and globally connected to the rich funders and supporters. He is not just an accomplished business tycoon, his Vice President in GBM is financially huge and brings other business allies to the party. The two UPND leaders who financially huge seem to have multiple peer wealth fellows and party campaign funders everywhere who may make it easy for HH to financially compete with the ‘PF Mukula Boys’. In the same vein, HH seem now to have his own parallel strong media networks and platforms in Zambia, in the region and internationally. This puts him a better position for 2021 as the public media with its PF-Lungu monopoly may count for nothing in terms of media coverage both print and electronic media. As he prepares for 2021, just like Lungu, HH has also many favourable private community radio and TV stations, social media platforms, blogs as well as print newspapers on his side.
In conclusion, we need to be quick to stress that this aforesaid critical analysis of HH’s existing political fortunes and candidature potency going into 2021 does not mean that the UPND leader is the automatic next heir to the throne of the Zambian Republican Presidency in 2021; that will be unscientific generalization and unprofessional misleading political prediction. The above analysis is based on the basic assumption that all current presidential candidates contested on their own tickets and the prevailing political dynamics across Zambia are held permanently constant from today until August 2021 which is terrifically too unlikely. This simply means that HH’s race to State House in 2021 is still too perilous marked with all diverse dark political clouds, heavy storms, thunderous lightening as well as other internal and external happenings that may dictate as to whether 2021 will produce good rains for him or leave him with the usual heavy dust without rains indeed; especially that we are not God, but simple humans and pretending to be fake angels on earth.