Zambians will go to the polls on 30 October 2008 to elect their new President following the death of the incumbent President Levy Mwananawasa.
We are going to look at voices of Zambians in the blogosphere talking about the election starting with a guest blogger at Zambian Economist Kaela Mulenga:
Thursday, October 30, 2008, is the day set aside in Zambia as a presidential ‘by-election’ date to replace the just deceased President Levy Mwanawasa (Levy). Mwanawasa had a stroke and passed away in a Paris hospital on August 19, 2008. In the race to replace him you have – the VP, who is acting as President, Hon Rupiah Bwezani Banda for Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD); Michael Chilufya Sata (King Cobra) of Patriotic Front (PF); Hakaimbe Hichilema (HH) of United Party for National Development (UPND); and Brigadier Gen Godfrey Miyanda of Heritage Party (HP).
Mulenga goes on to analyse the candidates comparing Michael Sata of the opposition party, Patriotic Front, to the likes of Barack Obama, Winston Churchilll and Fidel Castro:
There are three things that a politician needs to be – to win in today’s volatile political climate.
1. He must be inspirational and persuasive. These attributes are essential for swaying, say doubting Thomases and useful when raising campaign funds.
2. A successful politician must also be imaginative, one who is able to link political talk to the solutions he/she is proposing.
3. Finally, he must be representative across the board. A national leader, who is multi-provincial in approach. What this entails is that – whoever is to be a Zambian president must be fairly acceptable in ALL provinces. Otherwise it would be difficult for him/her to implement development programs.
When analyzing what lies behind these postulates – as regards to the first requirement: a persuasive communicator, is in another description – a charismatic speaker. This category includes people like Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, JFK, Pierre Trudeau, Malcolm X, Fidel Castro, Martin Luther King, Kenneth Kaunda, FTJ, and currently Barack Obama. Using this as a yardstick to measure the Zambian candidates, Michael Sata seems to be best of them all. Therefore, it is no wonder he is pulling mammoth crowds wherever he goes. Sata articulates the voice of ordinary people, even though he flounders when it comes to foreign policy issues. In 2006, China/Taiwan issue and open support for Robert Mugabe, worked against him. No wonder he is more careful this time round.
Adair Zambia notes that it might take five days after the election before the official results are known:
This coming week are the elections for the next president of Zambia. Here the VP is appointed after the president is elected, so if a president dies, the VP doesn't assume the rold of president. 90 days after a president dies, there is an emergency election. This Thursday is that emergency election. Everyone is assigned to help at the polling stations, the police, the army, even the ZAWA workers! So this is the focus of the week. Thursday, nothing will happen except the elections. However, because of the system, we are anticipating the results four or five days after. We might be finding out the new presidents of both Zambia and the US on the same day!
Blogging from Kitwe, the third largest city in Zambia, Percy Mwale says that the next President should not be similar to Levy Mwanawasa:
Thirdly, the next President should not be anywhere near, or similar to Mwanawasa. No two people will perform equally in the same way that no two people's DNA are the same. It must just be someone who has the nation at heart and shall do it right – constitutionally. This means therefore that personality and character is an issue that must never be divorced from the elections. Jesus Christ once said, ‘You shall know them by their fruit’. This literary means that a person's work rate and output is determined by their character, their personality. It's the underlying passion that propels an individual to perform. Look at Barak Obama-Joe Biden and John McCain-Sarah Palin partnerships. An individuals track record speaks volumes on who a person actually is. Whatever one has achieved or failed to achieve. ‘A man is judged for what they accomplish and not for what they start’. One should only aspire for public office because they have performed well in any past public office assignment.
I rest my case!
The accusations against former Information Minister and the acting President Rupiah Banda of rigging the election are unacceptable, Zambian Watchdog reports:
Former Information Minister Vernon Mwaanga has said it is unacceptable and an abomination for the opposition PF and the UPND to be accusing him and the acting President Rupiah Banda of planning to rig the October 30 elections. And Inspector General of police said Monday that only one person can win in an election and losers should accept results
In a statement issued in Lusaka on Mr. Ephraim Mateyo appealed to all presidential candidates to put the interest of the nation first.
He however said the atmosphere in the country is relatively calm, two days before Thursday’s presidential election.
On rigging, Mr Mwaanga challenged the PF and UPND leaders to provide evidence on the allegations to Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ),the Zambia Police, election observers among them the Southern African Development Community (SADC), European Union before Thursday’s poll so that the matter can be addressed.
He said election rigging was a serious offence and warned that PF should not trivialise the matter.
Police in Livingstone Tuesday fired teargas canisters to disperse thousands of residents that had gathered at the ZRA offices to demanding that two trucks suspected of carrying ballot papers be offloaded to verify contents.
The trucks were impounded in Livingstone as they were coming South Africa on suspicion that the vehicles were carrying presidential ballot papers.
PF Livingstone District Secretary Nelly Mwamba told journalists that someone in Durban, South Africa sent a cellular phone text message to Zambia suggesting that the trucks were allegedly carrying ballot papers.
The UPND and PF cadres impounded the trucks Monday at the Livingstone Weigh Bridge after being informed that the vehicles had allegedly avoided passing through the scanning machine at Zambia Revenue Authority Port Office.
The cadres forced the trucks to be driven back from the Weigh Bridge to the ZRA Port Office where cadres kept an overnight vigil as they demanded a physical search the vehicles.
Lawrence Temfwe of Jubilee Center explains why October is a very important month for Zambians:
Zambia’s presidential by-elections are being held in October, a very important month for us Zambians. It’s in October that we celebrate our nation’s independence. Therefore, October should be a time for all Zambians to show their love for this country by pausing and reflecting on Zambia’s past toils and achievements. Independence celebrations ought to be a time to strengthen our unity as a nation and to rededicate ourselves to service.
This year we have been deprived of celebrating our nation’s independence because of the presidential election campaigns. Independence celebrations provide us with a great opportunity to teach our children and youths what we remember of the past and invite them to define their future on the basis of what we have shared with them. If we forget to pass these memories to our children and our youths, the result will be that other nations will overrun us again and we will end up in misery.
Freelance journalist Gershom Ndlovu discusses the history of electoral fraud in Zambia. He claims that unverified ballot boxes were smuggles out of the Electoral Commission of Zambia in the 2001 and 2006 elections. He then asks:
Can the same tricks be employed in this by-election or is it that the citizens have become vigilant monitoring the illegal movement of ballot boxes? Can someone monitor Zambia Airforce (ZAF) that ferry ballot boxes from outlying polling stations in rural areas? Zambia could avoid falling into the Kenyan curse the world witnessed at the beginning of this year.
Lastly, Zambian Chronicles Zambian Chronicle conducts presidential poll on his blog.