Editorial: The UPND running mate poser

HH greets Dr Kaseba while the two Vice presidents looks on

HH greets Dr Kaseba while the two Vice presidents looks on

With slightly over 24 hours to go before The United Party for National development (UPND) presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema files in his nomination papers to contest the republican presidency for the fifth time in 10 years, The identity of  his running mate has remained a closely guarded secret. Whether this is Hichilema’s calculated move to pull a last-minute surprise on  ruling Patriotic Front or it is mere indecision on his part, we do not know, but what we do know is that the anxiety and endless speculation the delay is causing has somewhat dampened the morale of the party’s support base. It has also put the party on the defensive as the ruling PF goes full swing in trying to capture the hearts of undecided voters.

Having some two Vice Presidents in the name of Dr Canisuis Banda and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba”GBM”, together with the alliance partners like Miles Sampa and Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba,  the UPND is seen as one party with “too many” possible running mate potentials. Some of the prominent names rumored as possible candidates include UPND National Chairperson and former Deputy Speaker, Mutale Nalumango and former First Lady Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, the widow of the immediate past Republican President and founder of the Patriotic Front Michael Chilufya Sata.

This means Hichilema must tread carefully and look at all angles before arriving at his final choice of who will be his second-in-command (and potential successor) should he succeed in unseating the Edgar Lungu-led government. His final decision will most definitely make or break his bid for Plot 1.

The question which begs everyone’s answer is who among the shortlisted is the best choice for running mate? Its not in our place to divulge and give direction in a UPND internal matter but as a media house whose aim is to see best governance systems and a stable government, we have a responsibility to give our independent advice to every stakeholder in our politics.

There are some quarters who strongly feel certain names “deserve” the be chosen for reasons ranging from loyal service to personal sacrifice (financilal or material). But we disagree. Picking a running mate should have ;little to do with party loyalty, how long a person has supported you or how much they have spent on the party in a particular period. It is about picking someone who can help you win an election. In countries were we copied this system from, running mates are typically chosen to balance the ticket geographically, ideologically, or personally. That person doesn’t need to be a friend or loyalist, they just need to offer what you don’t have, and most importantly they should be persons of high integrity who put the country first and their personal ambitions last.

As Zambian Eye, we believe that is Christine Kaseba-Sata. If the party is serious about winning this presidential election, let them settle for Dr. Kaseba-Sata as she brings the much-needed BALANCE to the ticket. Besides that, she will bring in the “Sata factor” in this whole game and possibly dismantle and bring the PF on its knees. The Sata name still carries a pull, whichever way you look at it. Dr Kaseba-Sata also possesses sobriety and necessary intellectual capacity. She is a learned and well exposed woman yet very grounded. Believe it or not, this election is as much about gender balance as it is about ethnicity and regional politics – which UPND has been smeared with and accused of for the better part of a decade, so the UPND will sort out these two factors by choosing Dr Kaseba–Sata.

Hichilema must also be fully aware that the running mate clause is always likely to put the Presidency in jeopardy in an event that the Vice President over-ambitious and insubordinate. Any disagreements, mistrust and change of direction along the way between the President and his Vice is likely to cause havoc. Problems will easily arise between warring factions, thereby bringing instability to government and affecting service delivery in the long run. Therefore, we feel of all those shortlisted, Dr Sata has the necessary attributes which distinguishes her from be power hungry. She is going to be compared to Inonge Wina who herself is a sober and very articulate politician. Edgar Lungu has done himself a favour to get Wina for Vice Presidency and running mate and the UPND must match Edgar Lungus strategy.

These elections are hotly contested and a simple mistake can make the whole hard work crumbles. The PF on the other hand have been very consistent in regards the choice of the Vice Presidency and that must be emulated. Those in the UPND must take a leaf and learn from their competitors.


God speed.

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