By Chris Zumani Zimba
According to the final results as announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on 21st November, 2018 for the parliamentary by-election in Western Province’s Mangango Constituency, the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) successfully and convincingly defeated Hakainde Hichilema (HH)’s United Party for National Development(UPND) to win the parliamentary seat in the opposition and HH’s traditional stronghold. PF’s candidate Godwin Putu polled 5,618, while his closest rival, UPND’s Akakendelwa Mwendoi polled 3,987.
Other political players that participated include the United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ)’s candidate Chingumba Kabindama who polled 607 votes to beat Dr. Chishimba Kambwili’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, Yuvwenu Kashandola who got 122 votes. The Mangango Parliamentary Constituency seat fell vacant following the death of the UPND Member of Parliament, Hon. Naluwa Mwene who died in a road accident in August this year.
This is the second time that the ruling PF has beaten UPND in a By-Election in this same constituency. In 2014, PF scoped the Mangango seat after its then candidate Rodgers Lingweshi polled 3,109 votes to beat Godwin Putu who stood on UPND ticket then and got 2,375 votes. The UPND went on to take back the seat in the 2016 general elections with late Hon. Naluwa Mwene.
For HH and the UPND, their electoral defeat to the ruling PF in the Mangago parliamentary by-elections is surely a huge political loss since the lead opposition boast of having the ‘three traditional trinity regional strongholds’ in the name of Southern, Western and North Western provinces. It is also serious political humiliation as the PF has made more electoral gains in Western, North Western and Eastern provinces by scooping UPND seats in 2018 by-elections. And if Lungu and PF continue to improve and perform better in many parts of the ‘three traditional trinity regional strongholds’ for UPND as well as maintain to lead in their ‘seven PF home regions’, the ‘Kachema’ i.e. the Shepard or Cowman in HH in particular and UPND in general will find it very tough if not impossible to defeat and dislodge the PF and Lungu from power and government in 2021.
However, these ongoing local government as well as parliamentary by-elections cannot be used as the basis to judge or ascertain the popularity of Zambia’s lead presidential candidates in Lungu and HH since we use the tripartite electoral system where political leaders at national, parliamentary and local government levels are given separate votes by citizens. Hence, we need to wait for 2021 ahead or talk about 2016 in the past if we are to objectively and critically compare Lungu and HH in terms of their political popularity.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher and Consultant. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles.