By Paul Shalala
Zambia’s 5,166,088 voters are on 20th January, 2015 expected to vote in a presidential election which pundits are already predicting to be too close to call.
11 candidates have so far been confirmed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to have validly filed in their nominations and will contest the poll which has been necessitated by the death of Zambia’s fifth President Michael Sata who died on 28th October 2014 in the United Kingdom.
Printing of the ballot papers has even commenced in South Africa where political party represents are monitoring the process.
During the 2011 General Elections which ushered the late president into office, 10 presidential candidates contested for the top job in the land.
This time, the ballot paper is expected to be a long one and voters are expected to have a wide range of choices from the list of candidates.
But who are these candidates? Where did they come from? What do they stand for?
These are the three questions this article seeks to answer.
As a way of giving voters more information, I will analyse all the candidates in alphabetical order according to their surnames.
- Chanda, Eric
Eric Chanda is in the presidential race for the very first time. To those who follow Zambian politics, Eric is not new. Initially, he was one of the youths late President Michael Sata used to be seen with.
He went on to serve as Patriotic Front National Youth Secretary at the time the now ruling party was in opposition. Mr Chanda signaled his quest for high office in 2011 when he tried unsuccessfully to run as PF parliamentary candidate for Munali Constituency during the run up to the 2011 general elections.
After losing the adoptions to now Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Prof Nkandu Luo, Mr Chanda left the Patriotic Front and kept a low profile.
He later emerged as General Secretary for the opposition Alliance for a Better Zambia (ABZ) which is headed by Catholic Priest Father Frank Bwalya who also fell out with the PF after heavily campaigning for it to dislodge the MMD in 2011.
In January 2014, Mr Chanda again resigned his position in ABZ after a disagreeing with the clergyman and formed his own political party the Fourth Revolution Party on whose ticket he is running for president on 20 January, 2014.
Little is known about about Mr Chanda’s ideological stance but he was a radical leftist during his time in the PF. At one time, he led a team of Zambian youths from various political parties to a Youth Summit in China where he praised China’s rise to economic prosperity and its determination to lift millions of its citizens from poverty.
Mr Chanda’s constituency seems to be the young people who he urged to overwhelmingly vote for him when he filed in his nomination at the Supreme Court earlier this month.
- Chipimo, Elias Jr
Elias Chipimo, Jr is the President of the National Restoration Party (NAREP), a party he founded in 2010. Before that, Mr Chipimo was a Corporate Lawyer.
This will be the second time this 49 year son of a former diplomat and politician will take part in the presidential race.
In 2011, Mr Chipimo got 0.3% of the total votes and came out fifth in a race where 10 contestants where vying for Plot 1.
During the 4 years NAREP has been on the political scene, Mr Chipimo has campaigned for his party in several parliamentary by-elections but has not produced any member of parliament.
His campaign seems to be on values and the human heart. These are the guiding principles he has been campaigning on.
Mr Chipimo enjoys considerable support among young people, especially those on the internet.
During the launch of his party in March 2010, several young people where seen with laptops at the function, signaling the birth of an ‘internet’ party which Zambia has not had.
- Hichilema, Hakainde
Popularly known as HH, Hakainde Hichilema is a 52 year old politician whose debut in the presidential race was in 2006 following the demise of United Party for National Development (UPND) founding President Anderson Mazoka.
An accountant by profession, Mr Hichilema has contested all presidential elections since 2006 and next month’s polls will be his fourth.
In 2006, he got 25% of the presidential votes and came third in the race.
In the 2008 presidential election which followed the death of President Levy Mwanawasa, Mr Hichilema’s percentage dropped to 19% but maintained his third spot.
In the last presidential election in 2011, he again came out third but his percentage again dropped to 18%.
In the 2015 presidential election, Mr Hichilema is seen as a joint front runner together with Patriotic Front candidate Edgar Lungu.
He is campaigning on a platform of change, free education, enacting a new constitution by 2016, economic prosperity and unity for the nation.
Through his Zambia United campaign, Mr Hichilema has flown to all provinces gannering support for his bid with a diverse group of politicians from MMD, UPND and an independent lawmaker.
With the aid of a chartered helicopter, the opposition leader has this time around campaigned in traditional PF strongholds of Luapula, Muchinga and Northern Provinces which he rarely visited in his previous presidential campaigns.
With the support of eminent politicians and Zambians like former Commerce Minister Dipak Patel, former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa, former Finance Minister Katele Kalumba, former Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu, former Finance Minister Dr, Situmbeko Musokotwane, Lunte MP Felix Mutati, ADD President Charles Milupi, Lubansenshi Independent MP Patrick Mucheleka and PF Kasama Central MP Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM), Hichilema hopes he can pull a surprise next month through the ballot box.
- Kaunda, Tilyenji
Tilyenji Kaunda is entering the presidential race for the second time within 3 years.
His debut in 2011 was disastrous as he only received a paltry 0.3% of the presidential votes and came out sixth in a race of ten candidates.
A son of Zambia’s first president, Tilyenji is the presidential candidate of Zambia’s independence party UNIP.
Described as ‘The Obama of Zambia’ by his supporters, Tilyenji prefers door to door campaigns as opposed to the usual holding of public rallies in public places.
In this presidential campaign, Tilyenji has been campaigning in markets where the Zambia Police Service has not been giving him a good eye.
UNIP’s campaign has been on reviving the various companies that were privatized or closed after the party lost power in 1991.
Tilyenji has been telling his supporters that Zambians are suffering due to the state’s failure to revive the UNIP-era companies which employed a lot of people and fed the nation.
Apart from fighting for this year’s election, Tilyenji is also fighting for UNIP’s own survival following the loss of its only Member of Parliament in 2011 and now remains with a few councilors dotted across the country.
- Lungu, Edgar
Edgar Lungu is a new comer to the presidential race and straight away shoots to the frontrunner status with Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND as the favourites to scoop the 20 January 2015 polls.
The 58 year old presidential hopeful is a lawyer by profession who is currently serving as Justice and Defence Minister.
Mr Lungu, is the member of parliament for Chawama Constituency in Lusaka and is also the President of the ruling Patriotic Front.
He was elected party president at the PF General Conference earlier this month to succeed late President Sata who led the party from inception in 2001 till his death in October 2014.
Mr Lungu is one of the founders of the PF and is the only serving MP among the 11 candidates vying for State House.
As the ruling party candidate, Mr Lungu goes into the race with the advantage of the incumbency. He will rely on the image of the late President Michael Sata and his achievement especially in infrastructure development to woo voters.
His campaign slogan dubbed ‘ifintu ni Lungu’ has excited young people and it has gone viral on social media.
In his countrywide campaigns, Mr Lungu has recived endorsements not only from his own PF MPs but also from the opposition MMD and a number of presidential hopefuls who have withdrawn from the presidential race.
Among prominent Zambians who have endorsed Mr Lungu’s presidential bid are People’s Party President Mike Mulongoti, People’s Democratic Party President George Mpombo, National Revolution Party President Cozmo Mumba, Nationalist Party President President Ackim Ngosa, ABZ President Fr. Frank Bwalya, UPND MPs Greyford Monde and Richwell Siamunene, 21 MMD National Executive Committee members and several others.
During late President Sata’s reign, Mr Lungu was the one who was given more chances to Act as President when the head of state left the country.
It is from this basis that his campaign team is telling Zambians that the PF candidate was chosen for his humility and stability during the time he briefly led the country.
6. Miyanda, Godfrey
Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda is a career soldier who after leaving the armed forces, has served in various capacities in government.
The former republican Vice President has contested and lost every presidential election since 2001.
He is one of the 22 ministers the late President Chiluba fired in 2001 after they opposed his plot to run for president for a third unconstitutional term.
After his dismissal, Brig. Gen. Miyanda formed the Heritage Party which he has led ever since.
In 2001 he got 7% of the votes and came out 7th.
In 2006 his percentage dropped to 1.5% of the votes and come out fourth.
During the 2008 presidential elections, Brig. Gen. Miyanda got his tally to 0.7% and maintained his fourth spot and in the 2011 polls, he dropped his percentage to 0.1% and came out 9th.
Many observers argue that the General’s lack of continuous engagement in non-election periods makes him lose touch with the electorates.
He is a man who is known to go into elections without holding campaigns in public places.
Over the years, Brig. Gen. Miyanda has been preaching what he calls the ‘Village Concept’ where government is supposed to make villages more developed and cared for so that the rural poor can also enjoy life as does the urban dwellers.
General Miyanda is a campaigner of constitutionalism who occasionally writes long articles on the constitution making process and the need for governments to observe the rule of law.
During the public sittings of the on-going Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission in Lusaka a few months ago, Brig. Gen Miyanda spent over an hour submitting proposals to reduce presidential powers and restraining politicians from abusing law enforcement agencies from harassing political enemies.
Some have described the retired General as Zambia’s best presidential candidate for his deep insight into the constitutionalism but his disastrous election results call for a change in his campaign strategy.
7. Mumba, Nevers
His stay in Mwanawasa’s New Deal government was shortlived as he was fired after a year in office and he went on to form yet another party called the Reform Party.
8. Nawakwi, Edith
She is the only woman in the race just like she was in 2011.
Her first attempt in 2011 was disastrous as she got 0.2% of the votes and lagged behind at 7th out of 10 candidates. At least she beat three men who trailed her in the race.
The tough talking opposition leader was one of the founders of the MMD who fought the UNIP government in its dying years.
She served in a number of Cabinet portfolios in the Frederick Chiluba-led MMD government until 2001 when she was fired after opposing the late president’s unconstitutional third term bid.
She later joined the newly formed Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), a party formed by former Cabinet ministers who opposed the infamous FTJ Third Term bid.
Ms Nawakwi was elected FDD President in 2005 after the demise of its founding president Lt. Gen. Christon Tembo and she has led the party ever since.
In her reign, FDD has seen the number of its Members of Parliament reduce to one in the current session of the National Assembly.
Her campaign in the current presidential campaigns is on economic management and the fight against corruption.
Ms Nawakwi has been receiving a lot of support from the women’s movement since she started contesting presidential elections.
At the launch of her presidential bid earlier this month, Ms Nawakwi was flanked by several women’s rights activists who took turns preaching that Zambia is now ready for a woman president.
During the November 2013 Mansa Central Parliamentary by-election, FDD beat MMD, UPND and UNIP to come out second just behind the PF.
The party described its performance in Mansa as the beginning of their winning streak towards the next general elections.
- Pule, Dan
Dr. Dan Pule is a Zambian preacher and politician who is popularly known for his Dunamis Fire Impact religious programs on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in Zambia.
Dr Pule is the founder of the Lusaka-based Dunamis Christian Center which is located in Mass Media area.
His first step into politics was in the Frederick Chiluba-led MMD government where he served as Science and Technology Minister before he went back to ministry.
In the run up to the 2011 general elections, Dr Pule was a bit active in the campaigns but it was until 2013 when he openly came on the political frontby forming his own Christian Democratic Party (CDP) on whose ticket he is contesting the 2015 Presidential Elections.
According to Dr Pule, once his party wins the polls, it will make Christian education compulsory in all schools countrywide as this is the basis on which Zambia was declared a Christian nation in 1996.
He says Christian education is the only way issues such as defilement can be fought.
CDP also promises free education up to university.
- Sinkamba, Peter
Peter Sinkamba can proudly call himself a ‘Jubilee baby’ just like thousands of other Zambians who are celebrating their 50th birthday this year at the same time with the nation’s 50th independence anniversary.
The Green Party presidential candidate was born in Namwala District of Southern Province in 1964 and maybe the only environmental activist among the 11 presidential contenders.
During Zambia’s transition from the one party state to multi-party politics in 1991, Mr Sinkamba was a student leader who fought along with the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
His role in politics did not last as he disappeared from the public eye only to resurface in 1998 when he founded the Citizens for a Better Environment, an NGO which has been vocal on environmental issues, especially on the Copperbelt.
In the run up to the 2011 General Elections, he entered fulltime politics and founded the Zambia People’s Pact, a platform on which he helped campaign for the PF to win the elections.
But in May 2013, the Kitwe-based politician left the PF and formed his own political party called Green Party.
The party has contested a number of parliamentary and local government by-elections but has not won any so far.
Mr Sinkamba has of late grabbed the headlines for suggesting that if he wins the elections, he would legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and would disband the Drug Enforcement Commission.
His much publicized Presidential Campaign launch in the drug den of Chibolya compound in Lusaka could not take place earlier this month due to heavy rains.
In this campaign, Mr Sinkamba has received wide spread support from Rastamen who believe in ‘legalising’ weed which they usually sing in reggae songs.
- Sondashi, Ludwig
He is mostly remembered for having served as Minister of Works and Supply.
After leaving government, Dr Sondashi went on to become the founder of the Sondashi Formular 2000 (SF2000) which he claims has cured several HIV patients.
He later founded the Forum for Democratic Alternatives (FDA), a party he believes has the right leadership Zambia desparately needs.
In his campaign for the 2015 Presidential Elections, Dr Sondashi has a three point plan he has been campaigning on.
He has promised that if elected president, he will roll out his SF2000 for free to all Zambians living with the HIV virus.
Dr Sondashi has also promised to restore the Barotseland Agreement of 1964, a thorny issue which ignites emotions in the Western Province.
He has also promised to transform Zambia into a federal state to allow provinces run their affairs.
He blames the current poverty and underdevelopment in the country to what he calls the over-centralised government in Lusaka.
Dr Sondashi is running for president for the first time.
This presidential election is too close to call. It is probably one of the most heavily funded campaign as can be seen by the number of planes and helicopters being used by various candidates.
Just like in 2011, social media has proved to be another battleground by political party and candidates. Opinion polls and counter opinion polls will be the order of the day as young people from various political parties try to outdo each other.
All parties, except UNIP, are present on Facebook where statuses and photos of their ‘mammoth’ rallies are being posted on a daily basis to show the public that they are ‘popular’ ‘doing fine’ and ‘winning.’
The overwhelming interest by the public in this election is a good sign that citizen participation is high in Zambia. That’s one of the tenets of democracy. Winning an election through public support gives a leader legitimacy.
But what is likely to affect this election is apathy. Recent by-elections have seen a sharp drop in voter turnout with some areas recording as low as 20% of registered voters in a particular constituency.
This is due to the fact that continuous voter registration as provided by electoral laws is not being implemented. The ECZ is still using the 2011 Voters Register whose data was collected in 2010. This means some of the 5,100,00 registered may have died, shifted to other constituencies or countries and some may have lost their voters cards and are hesitant to replace them.
Secondly, there is voter fatigue. There are numerous by-elections and people are tired of voting. During 5 parliamentary by-elections held on September 11, 2014, Kasenengwa constituency recorded the highest turn out at 48% but that was far short of acceptable standards.
During a recent regional workshop on elections in Lusaka, ECZ Director Priscilla Isaac attributed aparthy to voter fatigue saying political parties needed to do more to encourage their members to be turning up in numbers to cast their ballot.
All factors being equal, the Zambian people will have the final say on 20th January, 2015 and they will choose a president of their own, one who will lead the nation to the next scheduled General Elections in 2016.