Muhabi Fires Back at UPND
In recent days, Zambia’s two largest opposition parties the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and United Party for National Development (UPND) have been exchanging blows following the publication of an article titled “The Obstacle to UPND’s Path to Victory” by MMD National Secretary Muhabi Lungu. This was followed by responses rejecting Muhabi’s argument by Francis Longwe and Kuchnga Simusamba of UPND. In turn, below is the rebuttal from Muhabi distributed to media houses this afternoon.
In the first article on this matter, released on 8th August 2014, I indicated that one of the instigating issues that led to my reaction was a statement made by the United Party for National Development (UPND) President, Hakainde Hichilema, that people who go back to the MMD are insane. In response to my analysis, the UPND through a Mr. Francis Longwe on 11th August 2014 accused me of fabricating a lie in collusion with the Post newspapers. Consequently, he concludes that I am to be regarded as a “useful idiot for the PF”. It is my hope that as Mr. Longwe makes this accusation, he takes recognition of the undisputable fact that I, as an individual, have had a much longer history of mortal combat and principled disagreements with both the Post Newspapers and Mr. Michael Sata than the historical record of both Mr. HH and the UPND for that matter. Heck, unlike some people we all know, I have never even gone to bed with the PF; even when it could have benefited me personally.
In a subsequent article by UPND Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Kuchunga Simusamba on 12th August, it was revealed that the said statement was actually uttered by “brother HH”, and that a private apology was rendered to MMD President Dr. Nevers Mumba. This was after Dr. Mumba expressed deep disappointment with Mr. Hichilema’s sentiments during an MMD rally in Luanshya. Clearly, there is no fabrication on my part as guilt has been accepted by Mr. Simusamba. A live broadcast feed of Mr. Hichilema’s words was aired on Radio Phoenix and other news organizations. In this regard, it is important to note, that the manner in which our colleagues in the UPND are taking this matter, licking private communication between the two presidents, shows a degree of duplicity, insincerity and unbecoming behavior. The simplest thing for the UPND President to have done was to make a public apology and this matter of verbal indiscretion would have gone away. To try and defend a clear wrong doing, for which evidence exists, is to give insight to the possible pathological behavior of a leadership type that this country should to be concerned with and should be worried of granting it the national vote. It certainly worries me. Such insincere behavior also helps to consolidate the views of many that, perhaps, the UPND imbibed just a little too much of the PF formula when they were together.
It was my intention to follow through on my promise to write a second letter intended to assess the chances of the PF winning the 2016 elections? However, we have been compelled to write a rebuttal to the emotional and unsavory UPND response to my humble observations. In this regard I will write two parts by way of rebuttal to the arguments presented by the UPND. In part one, I will deal with the subsidiary arguments of by election predictability and other secondary arguments raised by my colleagues and which were not part of the core thrust of the debate in my first paper.
In the second part, we shall deal with the core argument of why the mathematics indicate the unlikely possibility of the UPND managing a national upward swing of 22% in five years. In the second part, I will also deal with the issues relating to the question as to whether UNIP values and principles can really be equated to those of the MMD. In this respect of values, I will briefly deal with the sensitive subject of tribalism, which was not brought out by myself but alluded to by the response of Mr. Longwe. I will also touch on matters regarding my character, which was also not raise by me but constantly addressed to by the UPND. Please note that my first article clearly stated that I was a human being, who was not infallible and had biases. Never, have I ever, claimed that I was omniscient. However, facts do not lie.
THE ARTICLES BATTLE
On 11th and 12th August 2014, the UPND released two articles via Mr. Francis Longwe and Mr. Simusamba in which they were “rubbishing” my earlier article released on 8th August 2014 concerning the unlikely chances of UPND winning elections in 2016. These two articles are full of contradictions, unsubstantiated leaps of logic and innuendos. Here is a detailed rebuttal.
Mr. Longwe unfortunately resorted to personal attacks in his article. In his personal attacks he makes an attempt to discredit my character and portray me as some sort of a vagabond with poor judgment. In answer to his insults to me, let us for a moment suppose that his description of me is correct; does that acknowledgment in itself invalidate the facts which were presented? I think not. Mr. Longwe is attempting to discredit the arguments by appealing to perceived “weaknesses” in my character. Any sensible debate must center on addressing the facts, not the personality. If something unsavory is unearthed about Mr. Longwe, will that invalidate his arguments? I think not. What invalidates Mr. Longwe’s argument is the shallowness of the logic and the inconsistencies in the rationalization that under pins his perspective. What invalidate his argument is that what he is saying is simply not factual.
For example, Mr. Longwe says, I quote “… the diagram … shows how Mazoka overwhelmingly won Lusaka. But Muhabi would rather say ‘did relatively well’ to justify his assertion that the victory was not stolen from Mazoka. He would also rather avoid official ECZ diagrams and pick from some website because they tally with his agenda. The truth as is tabled on the ECZ website is that Mazoka won Lusaka overwhelmingly and in fact all the MPs in 2001 for Lusaka province were from UPND…. Mazoka also beat all the candidates in central province but Muhabi would rather say did relatively well because reality is against his agenda.”
FACTUAL ELECTION RESULTS
Firstly, it is simply not true that all MPs that won in Lusaka in 2001 were from UPND. Out of the 12 constituencies in Lusaka, UPND only won 4 seats (Kafue, Chilanga, Kabwata and Kanyama). FDD won 6 seats (Rufunsa, Chawama, Lusaka Central, Mandevu, Matero, and Munali) while MMD and ZRP won 1 seat each (Feira and Chongwe respectively). It is important for Mr. Longwe to do basic fact-checking when making sweeping statements. Unfortunately for him, nothing escapes us. Here is the link to the 2001 parliamentary election results (Lusaka results begin from the 33rd page):
He then attempts to discredit the data I presented by referring to it as from “some website”. If he had bothered to check the source website (zambia.co.zm), he would have found that the original data used to compile the charts is actually from the Electoral Commission of Zambia website and there are even links at the bottom of the original article. Why does he focus on Lusaka in his quest to prove that UPND founding president Anderson Mazoka won convincingly? What about Copperbelt, Eastern and Northern provinces? He is clearly mistaken in claiming that Mr. Mazoka won Central province in 2001 when the truth is that Levy Mwanawasa got 31% and Mr. Mazoka 28%. Here is the link to the 2001 presidential election results and I hope Mr. Longwe will compare the numbers one by one with all the numbers in the chart I presented for UPND results by province.
Mr. Longwe says about me: I quote, “His thinking or reasoning seems to be that you can only use results of presidential elections to determine future presidential elections. If that were the case, our own beloved Rupiah Banda would have won the 2011 elections since he won the 2008 elections and the MMD also won the elections before that…. If losing previous elections is the main factor that determines who wins the next polls, then the MMD will never win elections because in 2011, contrary to what Muhabi is trying to portray, the biggest loser was the MMD.” This is a false argument by my dear brother longwe, because data in terms of trend line was actually showing that MMD was heading for a loss if they did not jack up. Winning a prior election cannot be taken in isolation.
BY-ELECTION RESULTS AND THEIR PREDICTIVE VALUE
Mr. Simusamba mocks my assertion that by-election results have no predictive value for the General Election. His error is to conflate the usefulness of by-elections in terms of information and their predictive value. Mr. Longwe says “Bye-elections that are being held now have more relevance because they are based on the same issues that will be hot in 2016. Voters have tested the current government and will vote according to what has happened between 2011 and 2016. Unfulfilled promises, bad governance etc…”
I agree that the results are useful for many reasons, which is why MMD participates in by-elections. But to then conclude that they can be used to reliably predict the General Election is another matter altogether. This is so because there are other factors that come into play during a general election which are not present in a by election. For example, a by-election typically fields candidates from the local grouping which may have resonance with the issues and circumstance of that area during a by election. These circumstances and issues could significantly be different when the name of the candidate on the presidential ballot, for argument’s sake is Canesious Banda standing as say president in Monze Central. The presence and weight on the parliamentary ballot in kafulafuta of Mr. V Lombanya will have a differed effect to the presence of HH on the presidential ballot in that same constituency. When the party president shows up to campaign, it may produce different results for him. In addition, there is a concentration of resources during a by-election and you can have a situation where the entire party leadership can show up to campaign.
In a Tripartite election, there is not enough money or time to go and campaign everywhere. Parties tend to be more spread out in their efforts and this can also affect the final result. By-elections are very localized. A General election is a mixture of local and national issues. It is therefore difficult to agree with Mr. Simusamba’s example of a mock and final examination because in that example, the factors are more or less the same. In our particular case, the person on the parliamentary ballot (the one sitting for the mock exam) is not the same who sits for the final exam on the presidential ballot; this is like comparing apples to oranges or expecting that a student who sat for an English mock exam will definitely pass a final Math exam for which he or she never studied for. In any case, how do you take into account matters such as voter turnout, quality of competitor in the race, messaging etc. in the mock exam comparison?
CHILANGA, MUFUMBWE, SOLWEZI CENTRAL & OTHER BY-ELECTIONS
Mr. Simusamba says I quote, “… Muhabi in his usual biased manner conveniently forgets to inform the readers that the by-elections he referred to were won under a ‘pact’ arrangement and that the pact had disintegrated by the time of the 2011 tripartite elections…. he forgot to inform the readers that during the same life of Parliament PF won three by-elections in the north (Kanchibiya, Mporokoso and Kasama) as a precursor to them winning Northern Province. May I add that PF managed to win all the three seats during the 2011 General elections with huge margins.”
Mr. Simusamba has unwittingly accepted what we all know. That UPND is a very weak party that requires pacts to win elections. They needed the PF to leave them those seats in order for them to win. He then uses the PF wins in Northern Province prior to the 2011 elections to prove that they could have been used to predict PF wining the province in 2011. However, those by-elections occurred after PF had already won the province in 2008. MMD won the province in 2006 with 50% and PF got 43%. In 2008, PF won the province with 64% while MMD got 32%. There were actually 2 by-elections in Northern Province won by PF (not 3), namely Kasama and Mporokoso. Kasama was held in October 2009 while Mporokoso was in March 2011. So how does Simusamba use the 2 by-elections to predict a win that had already occurred earlier in 2008?
Mr. Longwe says: “On the Mpulungu bye-election of 2010, what Muhabi did not want to say is that the PF … only lost that seat with 85 votes and … never conceded defeat…. PF president Michael Sata accused the ruling MMD of producing about 500 votes from ‘imaginary’ polling station in order to win Mpulungu. So when the PF won the Mpulungu seat a year later with a huge margin, there was to be no surprise. That bye-election actually showed that the people in Mpulungu wanted PF not MMD but due to malpractice, the MMD ‘won’ the seat.”
5003 minus 4419 equals 584, not 85. And since when did Mr. Michael Sata become an authority on the truth? Don’t the UPND say he is a liar all the time? So when it suits them, they believe the Patriotic Front was being truthful when it refused to concede defeat in the Mpulungu by-election and claimed that 500 votes were “manufactured” by MMD. Moreover, there was intimidation in 2011 by PF cadres who declared the Northern part of Zambia a no-go area for MMD during the elections. They chased many MMD election monitors and recently, PF Secretary-General Winter Kabimba made some disturbing revelations about bringing in Kenyans to do things for which he would have been arrested by now had PF lost. One wonders whether PF truly won the Mpulungu seat.
Longwe claims that UPND has been making inroads in the Copperbelt because they won the Kafulafuta by-election. They actually won by NINETY-SEVEN votes. That’s right. 97 votes. It is probably the closest parliamentary election result in Zambia’s history, yet UPND sees it fit to boast about it as proof of the UPND gaining significant ground on the Copperbelt. He however defeats his own argument because elsewhere, he said that MMD’s win in Mpulungu in 2010 was not believable because the result between MMD and PF was very close (584 votes). His own argument renders the Kafulafuta win suspect and meaningless.
Mr. Simusamba produced a table showing MMD getting 32 votes in Kafulafuta but MMD did not actually contest the Kafulafuta by-election because its candidate Evelyn Mwanawasa withdrew from the race after filing in nomination papers, meaning there was no candidate for MMD and no campaigning. So the 32 votes is not a true picture of voter sentiment. Historically, MMD has held the seat from 1991. We won it in 2011 convincingly with 59% and in 2006 with 71%. UPND got 2% in 2011 and it is clear their subsequent by-election win was due to a protest vote against PF by our people who had no real choice.
The Mvula Ward in Chililabombwe which the UPND grabbed from the PF and are also boasting about was won by only SIXTEEN votes. That’s right. 16 votes. As for Mpongwe, the simple explanation for our by-election loss was that our winning candidate in 2011 Gabriel Nalmulambe was poached by the PF. He then ran on PF ticket and his win is thus no surprise.
Mr. Simusamba says that MMD is on a path of decline and is now in third place because it has lost over 15 by-elections since 2011 while UPND has increased by 5. But PF has increased its seats by 9 in the same period and using his argument, PF is headed for a win in 2016. But how can this be true when Simusamba and everyone in his party say that UPND is winning in 2016?
Since 2011, MMD has not participated in 5 by-elections and 3 of our MPS were poached (Stephen Masumba in Mufumbwe, Gabriel Namulambe in Mpongwe and Patrick Ngoma in Feira). Of the 5 by-elections UPND has won since 2011, MMD did not participate in 4 of them, one of which was the Livingstone by-election which we left to the UPND in 2012 after we won it in 2011. In 2013, UPND lost it to PF, again showing how weak they are when they are alone. These are the same people who are over-confident of winning in 2016.
Mr. Longwe asks “Is Muhabi telling us that the bye-election the MMD won in Eastern Province where the MMD still seems to have following are meaningless and that come 2016, those people will vote for another political entity?” All I said was that they are not a RELIABLE BAROMETER for the coming General Elections. The fact that they are not reliable does not necessarily mean (in and of itself) that Eastern Province will vote for another party other than MMD.
In Part two next week, I shall discuss MMD parliamentary seats that were nullified and what it really means for 2016. I shall also discuss the Election cycle, the question of my political values vis-à-vis MMD and UNIP and various issues that include the core argument of the inability by the UPND to win 2016.
MMD National Secretary