The 2016 campaigns started with so much exhilaration, euphoria and jubilation among the leading political parties. The ruling Patriotic Front- PF, assembled at Lusaka’s Heroes stadium whilst the runner-ups in the previous presidential by-election the United Party for National Development- UPND, gathered at Kitwe’s Freedom Park. And the former ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy- MMD, where never left out as they converged at Mulungushi Rock of Authority. In what has become legal circus between the two MMD factions Dr Nevers Mumba loyalists and the Rupiah Banda loyalists who just ushered in Felix Mutati as their ‘President’.
I will not divulge on the campaigns and convention on the Copperbelt and Central provinces. I am better positioned to analyze the PF’s manifesto launch at Heroes stadium as I was part of the overflowing crowds. The Patriotic Front undeniably wooed hundreds of thousands to convene and fill the 60,000 in capacity Heroes stadium. Whatever the system PF used to achieve such bigger numbers really worked so well. The stadium filled above par by midday, forcing those coming after to wander outside even when some people were taken inside the stadium fields. The attendance gave the much publicized rally’s name such a befitting meaning as the phenomenal and special coming together of people for a political cause made it look so mega.
The Patriotic Front mega rally was so well attended. Such that every patriotic and Zambia loving citizen must feel so proud that despite our past voter apathy and less interest in civic matters, people have such interest in the politics of our nation.
However the PF failed so terribly in rising up to the occasion and build up a concrete political message. This would have set the party’s agenda for Zambia delivered with such elation and political ecstasy especially that the crowds came to cheer them. As I sat on the terraces, I kept on asking my immediate neighbor what the Director of Programs just said. Because the PA system was quiet pathetic [for lack of better term]. The miming by our Zambian top musicians like; Macky 2, Israel (formerly exile), General Kanene, JK, Kings Malembe Malembe, Nathan Nyirenda and many more artists performed wonders. It made the cadres who ended up as some concert revelers staying entertained despite the poor sound quality.
The trooping of a lot of people in the stadium can never be entirely credited to the PF as some people came in specifically for music. That however was a good wooing strategy which PF used, unfortunately failed to utilize it to the maximum in scoring necessary political scores. You can never give a platform to musicians for five hours, only to come and shorten the speeches and speakers, compressing important tasks in an hour after seeing the much exodus of the crowd from the stadium The PF should have killed the occasion, they had Dr Chishimba Kambwili, Mumbi Phiri, Frank Bwalya and other good orators who would have warmed up the stage for Edgar Lungu which would have set the packed stadium in ululation. People came for manifesto launch, no a concert. Even if some people came for music, the PF must have nailed their strategy of bringing musicians to the end. By spicing up the music with interval political speakers delivering timely and morale boosting political message which would have made those who attended see the plans and outline of PF next five years in office.
The president and his vice both came late, as I sat on the terrace. I was thinking, ‘what the heck is holding the president for more than five hours.’ It was suppose to be an important and key political meeting which sets the agenda for his bid for the next term. I don’t know who advise presidents, but if Edgar Lungu’s coming to heroes’ stadium late was some advice from his aides, then there must be bad in events strategy and organizing. The stadium was filled by 11:00AM, what was he waiting for when the manifesto he was set to launch was not even printed. He should have come in time, followed the proceedings as musicians alternate with politicians in keeping people entertained but still intact. Come on, you don’t keep a Zambia hungry the whole day and expect that he/she sit down and listen to a boring speech read by Davies Chama (non pan intended).
Despite the PA system challenges, we sat down and listened struggling as most people trooped out after music was put to halt. Edgar Lungu was however amazing and precise in his message. He made some nice political pronouncements which made huge and trending discussions across Zambia like the choosing of Inonge Mutukwa Wina as his running mate. Former vice President Enock Kavindele’s speech was excellent; Dr Dan Pule was amazing as well. Former President Rupiah Banda’s appearance was such a morale booster but I believe the PF would have done so much after spending some hundreds of thousands if not more in kwacha’s then ends up giving away most of the time away.
That’s all from me, off the terrace now.