By VENARCIOUS MWANSA –
THE die is cast following the announcement by Acting President Guy Scott that the presidential by-election has been set for January 20, 2015 and, consequently, the start of the campaigns.
As could be expected, political parties are either positioning or repositioning themselves for this day which will decide whether the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) will finish its five-year mandate given to it by the Zambian people three years ago or will ‘surrender’ the country’s governance to another party.
For the opposition parties, meanwhile, January 20, 2015 is an opportunity for them to take over the running of this country, and are doing everything to convince the electorate why they should be voted for.
As of now, however, the battle lines are not so much drawn between the ruling PF and opposition as they have essentially to do with who the presidential candidate will be from which party.
So far of the three biggest political parties – the PF, MMD and UPND – things have perhaps been smooth for the United Party for National Development (UPND) whose members had no problem picking the candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.
Hakainde Hichilema’s candidacy was confirmed almost the day the mourning period for late President Michael Sata ended. The man was an automatic choice who had no opposition from within the UPND rank-and-file.
HH and the UPND’s fortunes have been boosted further by Zambia Democratic Congress (ZADECO), whose leader Langtone Sichone has reportedly said his party will throw its weight behind the UPND.
The same applies to the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) which has already announced party president Edith Nawakwi as its candidate, as well as the Green Party that wants to legalise marijuana and says it is fielding its leader Peter Sinkamba.
As with the ruling PF, not much could be said as of now because the party seems to be still mourning the demise of its leader Michael Sata.
In addition, PF’s hunt for a candidate will go on for a few more days, if not weeks, because as the party in power, it wasn’t prepared for the by-election as its eyes were focused on 2016.
However, from the number of party presidential hopefuls, 10, that filed in their nominations this week, the search for the PF candidate is set to be the most competitive.
In the case of the MMD, it was initially felt that things would go on smoothly for the former ruling party, only for the ongoing squabbles to dispel this belief.
As you are going through this ‘Discourse’, MMD president Nevers Mumba is no longer the preferred candidate because the party’s national executive committee (NEC) has instead opted for retired president Rupiah Banda.
One major argument for this turn of events is that the MMD needs a salable candidate if it could stand a chance of bouncing back to power, and Dr Mumba is not. The party has since announced his suspension for ‘indiscipline’.
Dr Mumba, the once vibrant televangelist who left the pulpit to try and fulfill his prophesy ‘Zambia shall be saved’ in the political arena, has vowed to fight for what belongs to him.
As a Zambian citizen, Dr Mumba certainly has every right to vie for the presidency of this country, but the undercurrents go further than this, with some people saying that what has hit him is nothing short of punishment for abandoning his calling as an evangelist.
The parallel is drawn with Jesus Christ of Nazareth who, in his three-year ministry never called for political change, not even by peaceful means. Scripture says the gospel Jesus preached did not have to do with social reform, social justice or political change.
Rather than attempt to change governments and institutions, Jesus came to change people’s hearts and point them to God’s kingdom. He preached the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
Could the Agenda for Zambia leader, Father Frank Bwalya, take a cue from Dr Mumba?