By Kapya Kaoma
HH’s victory brought smiles to many Zambians who have longed for the day when the PF cartoons will be no more. But the unofficial announcement of election results, election-day and post-election violence have potential to undermine democracy for generations. As the excitement settles for winners, and shame for losers, we all await the inauguration of our 7th President–something we should be proud of as a nation. We change Presidents like jobs. As an analyst, I expected a tight result, but the electorate proved me wrong. HH and the UPND came up with a very big win. Congratulations Bally! I look forward to seeing you “fix it.”
President Lungu graciously conceded and we should be looking to 2026. But we should not forget that the unofficial announcement of 2021 election results, election day and the ongoing post-election violence by the UPND and its cadres would have a damaging impact on Zambian democracy for ages. The whole process was filled with deception of untold magnitude. The UPND social media outlets willingly went on a misinformation campaign aimed at discrediting the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s efforts to do its work and misinforming the nation and the world. It dumped falsehoods of all sorts on Zambians and the world–from the claim that Chililabombwe is the new Dundumwezi of 2021 elections for giving Lungu only 250 votes to Lusambo and Tasila Lungu losing to UPND candidates to HH winning by 78% of the total votes among many others. These lies became the initial basis for many congratulations that HH and the UPND candidates continued to receive despite the ECZ warning against such unconfirmed results. Of course, the UPND maintained its results were based on its own data, but how could we explain the big disparities with the official results? Even media houses believed the same, accusing the Commission of trying to cook up something. Again sowing distrust in the ECZ.
The question is, why did HH allow the UPND to continue promoting the false results on its social media platforms? Or why didn’t he even issue a single statement to the contrary? The goal was to sow doubt in the ECZ, which is the foundation of our democracy. If we don’t trust it, our democracy dies. Unfortunately, the UPND has made us believe that the key to winning an election is to claim the victory before any official result is called. After all, a lie told hundreds of times becomes the truth. And how many of us shared the UPND Big Lie on our social media platforms, only to remove it days later? It is shameful that the UPND cadres didn’t have confidence in the ECZ until it declared HH the winner of the election. Let’s assume he didn’t win this election–Zambia would be on fire as we speak. By its activities during the past election, the UPND has rendered the ECZ powerless. In our excitement, we may ignore this issue. But we must remember that this strategy is deadly if the propaganda goes against the propagandist–it can easily lead to post-election violence.
The HH victory is bittersweet, it is covered in innocent blood and ongoing post-election violence. HH has won the election and may have assured Lungu of his protection, but his cadres have continued to wreak havoc on fellow citizens. He may call on them to stop, but it is too late. He trained them to be exactly what they have become–kill democracy and rule by violence and not by law. Yet violence has no role in democracy. As President, HH will be faced with the simple choice–to ignore his violent cadres who propelled him to Plot 1 and risk losing the next election, or to reward them by making them untouchables and retain power. The choice is clear–it will surely take us back to the Lungu days. But why should we always shed blood election after election?
I opposed President Lungu’s decision to deploy the military on the streets of Zambia. My childhood experiences with the military during the Kaunda regime were traumatic enough to support any actions that seem to turn or even pretend to turn citizens into foreign enemies. The military has no business in national affairs, but defending the nation against foreign enemies. Alas! It turned out the violence would come mostly from fellow citizens. In various Provinces, the UPND cadres proudly broadcast videos harassing and beating people at Polling Stations, and assaulting election officials–all in the name of protecting UPND votes. Innocent lives were lost too. We seem to move from one violent regime to another, while our blood water our streets to put the Big Man in Plot 1.
My biggest fear is, opposition parties now know that this is the way to win–terrorize voters and you win in 2026. If UPND cadres will be proactive then, expect the opposition to do the same–it will be the rule of the jungle; survival of the fittest from henceforth. This is the UPND gift to Zambian democracy. HH repeatedly called PF cadres thugs; but the defeat of Lungu has exposed his cadres true colors–they are openly violent and untamed. Mr. President Elect, you can warn your cadres to stop beating people at will, but it is too late. You untamed them and they gave you the victory, it is time for them to inflict the maximum damage on their enemies. Yes you may forgive Lungu, but they have unfinished business to attend to with disgraced PF cadres. All you can do is enjoy the Halls of Plot 1 as your once attack dogs bite at will.