Since the 2006 General Elections, three major political parties claimed a number of provinces as their strongholds. The said political parties were the United Party for National Development (UPND), the Patriotic Front (PF) and the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD). These provinces were to be held as their ‘bedrooms’ for the next five years in the duration of the Tenth National Assembly which was dissolved by President Rupiah Banda on 28 July, 2011.
In this analytical piece, I will try to predict a number of provinces which are likely to either be held by a given political party or they may slip away to another depending on various reasons.
This province has been a stronghold of the UPND since the 2001 General Elections when then UPND Presidential candidate the late Anderson Kambela Mazoka, who was a native of the province, got most of the votes in the presidential poll. The party also got most of the parliamentary seats. In the 2006 elections, the UPND got 17 of the 19 seats in the Southern province, only Dundumwezi and Livingstone Central slipped off the Party’s ‘hands.’ Between 2006 and 2011, the UPND has managed to win most of the local government by-elections held in the province.
Looking ahead, the UPND is likely to maintain its dominance in the province. The only possible threat in this regard may be the emergence of the Ng’andu Magande led National Movement for Progress Party (NMP) and the ruling MMD. Magande is a son of Southern Province and he may get a sympathetic vote from his tribesmen while the MMD’s incumbency may help it get more votes than it did in the past elections. Infact, in the 2008 Presidential election, the MMD beat the UPND in Livingstone Central constituency.
With regard to the Patriotic Front, it is unlikely that the Party may gain any significant strides in the Province. This situation can be directly attributed to the ‘negative’ perception held by most people of the Province towards the Leader of the PF Michael Chilufya Sata especially in the light of the breakup of the UPND-PF Pact in early 2011. Notwithstanding, there is a high possibility that the PF may gain a few votes in urban areas of Livingstone, Mazabuka and Choma but it faces a huge challenge in rural areas where it is perceived to be an alien political force.
With regard to the MMD, it is imperative to underscore here that in the adoption process particularly of parliamentary candidates, the ruling party chose a good number of significant and/or influential candidates such as David Diangamo for Itezhi-Tezhi and Major Robby Chizyuka for Namwala., however it will still be difficult for them to offset the table due to the way people in this province vote. Since 2001, the people of Southern Province have been voting on party lines, meaning anyone who contests on the UPND has a 90 percent chance of winning except in constituencies such as Dundumwezi and Livingstone Central were UPND candidates lost in 2006.
We are likely to see the Southern Province remaining firm in the hands of the UPND due to its President Hakainde Hichilema’s huge popularity in his homeland. The adoption of late UPND President Anderson Mazoka’s widow as the party’s parliamentary candidate in Pemba constituency may increase the party’s chances of gaining a sympathy vote since the Mazoka name is still revered in the province.
At the beginning of the Tenth National Assembly in 2006, Lusaka Province was dominated by Patriotic Front Members of parliament. The party had 7 of the province’s 12 constituencies. All urban seats were held by the PF while the remaining 5 peri-urban and rural seats were held by the ruling MMD. But in 2010, the MMD’s seats were reduced by one when the UPND snatched the Chilanga seat through a by-election which was necessitated by the resignation of the then MMD incumbent MP Ng’andu Magande who had earlier been expelled by his party for his outspokenness.
Apart from the two big parties in Lusaka Province being the MMD and PF, the UPND is also somehow present. It had a few councilors across the region and before the suspension of the Lusaka City Council in January 2011; one of its Councillors was serving as Deputy Mayor for Lusaka City.
Despite Lusaka seemingly being in PF’s firm hands, the province may risk being infiltrated by the ruling party. The newly elected MMD Lusaka Province Chairman William Banda has been laying his ground work ahead of this year’s general elections. Some of his tactics have been to take over markets and bus stations as seen with the Lusaka Intercity Bus Terminus which has now been infiltrated by his ‘Jimboz’ squad who force all call boys to wear MMD regalia every Friday.
Secondly, the MMD in Lusaka has also been playing a psychological war by planting their blue party flags at strategic points of the city in order to register its presence. Thirdly, President Banda recently embarked on a number of development projects in Lusaka to convince voters that his MMD-led government is working. These have included tarring some roads, grading township roads and donating geysers. However, die hard PF leaders have been telling their traditional supporters in the capital to use the ‘donchi kubeba’ doctrine of accepting whatever they are given but to remember to vote for the opposition party.
Looking at the 2011 General Elections, the opposition PF is likely to retain most of its seats in Lusaka. It may also get one or two of the MMD’s rural seats like Chongwe and Kafue which of late have been a hive of activity. Chongwe may go to the PF following the defection of its immediate past MMD MP Sylvia Masebo who allied herself with the opposition party in the last few months. Before being co-opted in the Levy Mwanawasa government a few years ago, Masebo was Chongwe MP on the Zambia Republican Party seat but after being appointed Cabinet Minister, she ditched the ZRP and joined MMD on whose ticket she retained her seat in the 2006 polls. This time around she hopes history will repeat itself as she is campaigning on the PF ticket.
The MMD is also likely to make significant gains in the province due to William Banda’s campaign tactics, the head of state’s maneuvers and the defection of a few immediate past opposition parliamentarians to its ranks. The ruling party will fight to maintain its rural seats and get a few urban seats which have been its night mare for the past half a decade. Of the urban seats, Matero is of particular significance to the ruling party because it has fielded the immediate past PF MP Faustina Sinyangwe who rebelled against her party while in parliament.
The UPND is seen to be the third force in the province and its influence is sometimes underestimated. It currently has Chilanga as its only parliamentary seat in the province. Therefore, the party may fight to retain it as well as grab a few from the MMD or PF hoping to change the balance of power in a region perceived to be the PF’s bedroom. The party has fielded its Provincial Chairperson Sheal Mulyata in Rufunsa and she hopes to use her influence to snatch the seat away from MMD’s Kenneth Chipungu.
So in the 2011 elections, Lusaka province is likely to be what the American pundits would call a swing state in that not one party maybe certain of winning it overwhelmingly. It may move away from the PF to the MMD or it may remain in the hands of the PF.
At the time President Rupiah Banda was dissolving the 10th National Assembly in July this year, MMD had 8 MPs in North-Western province while the UPND had the remaining four seats. From the outset, it should be noted that this province is one of those that gave the MMD overwhelming votes in the past five years however the ruling party’s grip on the grassroots has been slowly slipping away following the demise of late Ben Tetamashimba who held the Solwezi Central seat for quite some time both on the MMD and opposition ticket.
The UPND under the leadership of its founding president Anderson Mazoka swept the North-Western Province in the 2001 General Elections but lost terribly to the MMD in the 2006 polls. However, in the last tenure of parliament, the UPND ‘stole’ two parliamentary seats from the MMD, these were Solwezi central seat after the death of the incumbent MMD MP Ben Tetamashimba and the Mufumbwe seat after the death of the incumbent MMD MP Misheck Bonshe.
In these two by-elections, the UPND claimed back its lost glory and also boasted that they were making a resurgence which would culminate into a landslide in 2011 however that is yet to be seen. The UPND will try its best to defend its four seats and try to increase that number.
With 8 seats in the last legislature, the MMD will do anything to defend its seats as well as threaten the four ‘renegade’ UPND seats which it feels it can reclaim. For the PF, this province will still sound abit problematic like Southern Province however the ‘donchi kubeba’ campaign machine cannot be ruled out going by the massive rallies PF leader Michael Sata addressed a few weeks ago in the province which seem to be larger than the ones he had in both the 2006 and 2008 presidential campaigns.
Smaller parties like the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) and the National Movement for Progress (NMP) also hope to get a chunk of this lucrative province despite its low number of registered voters. The ADD is fielding its Secretary General Stafford Lizu for the Kabompo East seat and so far he has been making rounds campaigning across the province. For Ngandu Magande’s NMP, they hope to also get a piece of this province which they hope can be their launch pad to their eventual superpower status. Infact Magande launched his new party in North-Western Province before he rolled it over to the whole country.
In conclusion, the battle for the North-Western Province is likely to be a ‘two man’ battle between the MMD and UPND going by recent trends and it will be interesting to see how people will vote especially that this province has seen a boom in economic activities such as the Lumwana mine and the trident mining project.
This province is a very lucrative prize for any serious political party in Zambia because it is one of the biggest regions both in terms of size as well as the number of registered voters. Big political parties have been traversing this province to ensure that they get a chunk of its voters.
At the dissolution of the Tenth National Assembly, the MMD and the PF were tied at 10 MPs each in the province while the 21st seat (Malole constituency) was held by an independent Emmanuel Munaile. In the past five years, the PF has managed to grab a few seats from the MMD, an indicator which has shocked MMD strategists because some of those seats like Mporokoso were held by the ruling party for a longtime.
The voting pattern in the Northern Province is also like that of the Central Province because people vote according to their geographical area. For example, the ruling MMD’s seats were in the northern part of the province stretching from the west to the east along the Zambia-Tanzania border and a few seats in the center of the province.
The PF had most of its seats in the south and center of the province and recently, they ‘stole’ Mporokoso constituency which is in the heart of the MMD territory in the north.
In the 2011 general elections, it will be interesting to see how the votes will be cast bearing in mind that the PF has shown a resurgence in some of the northern constituencies which have been a headache for them in the past decade. During the Mbala parliamentary by-election a year ago, the PF lost to the MMD by a slim margin, an indication that their popularity had also grown in the past few years going by the difference with the 2006 and 2008 elections.
The MMD will fight to the last blood because they know that some of their big names such as the Namugalas, the Mutatis and the Simbaos come from this strategically important province and they would not risk losing the vote. The MMD will also try to ride on the backs of the PF ‘rebel’ MPs it has adopted on its ticket.
In the last general elections, Central Province voted overwhelmingly for the MMD giving it 12 seats with the remaining two going to the UPND. In this year’s polls, the MMD has not re-adopted a number of its incumbent MPs for one reason or another. These include Ackimson Banda (Serenje), Lucy Changwe (Mkushi North) and Friday Malwa (Kapiri Mposhi).
This province can be described as a MMD stronghold but recent trends may show otherwise. In the 2008 Presidential election, the MMD candidate Rupiah Banda was beaten in Kabwe’s two constituencies which were both being held by the ruling party and if that trend repeats itself in the 2011 polls, the PF may get a huge chunk of votes in the so-called ghost town. In Katuba constituency, the MMD expelled its incumbent MP Jonas Shakafuswa who recently defected to the UPND and was adopted by the opposition party to re-contest his seat on its ticket and this constituency is likely to be a flashpoint in the 20 September polls.
Another potential battleground will be Mwembeshi constituency whose immediate past MP Edward Kasoko was not adopted by the UPND to defend his seat and decided to defect to the ruling MMD and he claims to have crossed with 6, 000 supporters though that claim cannot be independently verified. This seat will be an uphill battle for the MMD if it is to win because for a long time now, the Tongas and Salas in this constituency have been voting for the UPND.
The northern constituencies surrounding Serenje and Kapiri Mposhi District will also be interesting to watch going by recent trends. If you followed the Chitambo by-election a year or two ago, you must have noticed that the PF’s performance and popularity in that by-election grew as compared to its performance in the 2001 and 2006 elections. And with this indicator, it will be interesting to see how the PF will battle it out with the traditional powerhouse the MMD.
All in all, Central Province votes according to its demography. The seats in the west vote predominantly UPND, the eastern part of the province votes MMD while the middle constituencies such as Bwacha and Kabwe Central seem to be leaning towards the PF and it will be interesting to see which colour the province will be painted on 20 September.
The Western Province has become one of the hotly contested regions in the past one year due to some circumstances. Despite it having a small number of registered voters, the province has been voting as one block in the past four elections and usually it has been voting for a winning party or presidential candidate. At the dissolution of parliament in July this year, of the 17 constituencies, the MMD had 15 MPs, the ADD had 1 MP and the UPND also had 1 MP in the province.
From these statistics, it is undisputed that the biggest parties in this region are the MMD, UPND and ADD. However, a third force has emerged in the name of PF following the 14 January, 2011 Mongu riots.
In the recently dissolved Cabinet, a number of its members were from the Western Province and some of the Deputy Ministers were also from the same province.
The province has been firmly in MMD hands but with the 14 January, 2011 Mongu riots, many pundits argue that the political environment has changed as there is huge resentment against the MMD government which banned the planned Limulunga meeting and sent in anti-riot police to enforce the ban and consequently killing some rioters.
Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata’s ‘triumphant’ entry of Senanga and Mongu in May this year sent serious shivers to his rivals. Mr Sata’s huge rallies in the two towns cemented his unwavering support for the restoration of the 1964 Barotseland Agreement within 90 days of getting into office if elected on 20 September. To some, this stance has won him many supporters needed for him to offset the tables in this year’s elections. In his usual opportunistic manner, the PF strongman went as far as praising the Linyungandambo group which government blamed for the January 14 violence. All in all, the King Cobra is likely to increase his presidential votes this year in Barotseland because some people have come to believe his promises on the Barotseland Agreement however he may not get a lot of votes in the town of Kaoma which is predominantly Kaonde and Luvale as opposed to other towns which are predominantly Lozis.
The PF has also fielded a good number of candidates in the province in order to claim a chunk of the 17 seats. Noted among the candidates is PF National Chairperson Inonge Wina in Nalolo constituency and former Caritas Mongu Director Nathaniel Mubukwanu who is contesting in Mongu central constituency.
For the UPND, the chances of getting a lot of votes are high since this province once served as one of its strongholds. Earlier this year, UPND President Hakainde Hichilema toured the province with his real change message. HH campaigned in Mongu, Kaoma and Kalabo were he addressed thousands of people at his rallies giving an indication that even UPND is a factor in Barotseland.
At parliamentary level, the UPND has adopted popular candidates who include party vice president Francis Simenda for Mongu Central, chairman for logistics Sibote Sibote who is vying for Nalikwanda while Likando Mufalali is eying the Senanga seat.
Another party which is likely to be a factor in Western Province is the opposition Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD) whose president Charles Milupi was an independent MP for Luena constituency in Mongu. Last year Mr Milupi resigned and successfully retained his seat on the ADD ticket in a by-election held a few months later. The opposition leader is a native of the province however his popularity is not well distributed in the province as was seen last year when he was almost lynched by Mongu residents when he started singing the national anthem at a public rally. Apart from that, a number of ADD party structures in the western province have been defecting to other parties giving a huge task to Mr Milupi to consolidate his strength in the province.
All in all, Lozis have been known to vote like Tongas in that they vote in blocks in any particular election. It will be interesting to see how 20 September will shape the outlook of the province in terms of political dominance.
 Major Chizyuka is the immediate past Member of Parliament under the UPND. Suffice to mention that practically Major was an MMD supporter for over two years of his term as MP. Major Chizyuka opted to support the MMD because of his opposition to the PF-UPND Pact.