OXFORD University graduate in Africa studies Sishuwa Sishuwa says the election of Michael Sata as President of Zambia vindicates his prediction that the PF leader was set for a comfortable win if the polls were not rigged.
Explaining the reasons behind President Sata's victory in last week's general elections, Sishuwa who is reading a PhD in Modern History at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and is President Sata's biographer, said the win also justified his critic of opinion polls by MMD-sponsored organisations.
"The win justifies my observation that Neo Simutanyi's and other opinion polls that indicated that Banda would win were deeply flawed and should not have been trusted. Following my realistic observations in The Post and on Radio Phoenix, I received numerous phone calls and text messages from hired mercenaries, dubious characters and former government officials threatening me and accusing me of all sorts of things for simply stating what was true," Sishuwa said.
"What are they saying now? I may be young, small and simple but I certainly have the expertise, insights, education and analytical skills to make correct conclusions, especially on Michael Sata and the PF."
He said there were several factors that explained President Sata's victory.
"Firstly, there is the momentum that the PF has achieved, having improved its performance in every election since it was formed in 2001. Secondly, there were territorial considerations: Sata and the PF made serious inroads into Western, Central, Eastern and parts of North Western provinces, which when added to his established strongholds, secured him the presidency," he said.
"Third is the role played by the private media especially The Post in giving Sata and the PF the much needed platform on which to convey his campaign and political message. In a sense, Sata is a creation of the private media. Sata is the accidental recipient of the revulsion against state-controlled media and the rise of the independent media."
Sishuwa said the public media had been a disgrace to the country's democracy.
He said because of the public media's misbehaviour, much of the MMD and government's election campaign propaganda fell on deaf ears.
Sishuwa said while other politicians were pompous, President Sata was humble.
"Sata is glib and fluent, critical and amusing. (Rupiah) Banda is pompous, stiff, defensive, arrogant and unconvincing in his off-the-cuff responses, and extremely stilted in his official speeches. If Banda looked uncomfortable and unconvincing - if not dishonest - on his own captive media, by comparison Sata bestrides both government and independent media imperiously," Sishuwa said. "Sata maintained a continuous and entertaining critique of the corrupt government establishment. Discussion in the independent media (The Post newspaper) and chatter on Facebook and radio also clearly showed that younger and unemployed voters were disaffected with the MMD - and there were many more young voters on the electoral roll than in previous elections."
He said the unemployed voters and youthful Zambians constituted the highest support of President Sata's electoral base.
Sishuwa said the increased number of registered voters in PF strongholds also contributed to the party's victory.
"Since Sata maintained or held on to the support of these areas and reduced the margins in the former ruling party's dominance in rural constituencies like Mbala and Kafue, the PF easily won the presidency and there was no way Rupiah and the MMD would have escaped defeat," Sishuwa said.
"Sata's prospects in rural constituencies, which he has previously lost to MMD, were brightened by the defections to the PF of several kingmakers and former cabinet ministers from the MMD who helped Banda to victory in 2008 such as Mbita Chitala, Sylvia Masebo, Lameck Mangani, Mike Mulongoti and George Mpombo. These influential political entrepreneurs not only improved the electoral fortunes of Sata and the PF but also weakened some of the ruling party's rural bases."
He said the fact that for the first time the PF was fielding parliamentary candidates in all the provinces meant that President Sata and the party benefited from sympathetic voter turn out.
Sishuwa said it was therefore extremely naïve for former president Banda and the MMD to think that voters would be impressed by economic growth that did not translate into jobs and improved standards of living for the majority.
He said although Banda enjoyed considerable benefits of incumbency and abused state resources and institutions, the Don't Kubeba strategy clearly neutralised that and worked to its intended objective.
"The decision by Rupiah's government to do away with such progressive clauses like the abuse of office clause and to fail to provide Zambians with the long-awaited good constitution disappointed many voters who had expected a continuation of the progressive reforms and policies initiated by Levy Mwanawasa," he said.
"The behaviour and conduct of Rupiah himself was another factor. He antagonised the ruling party, expelled everyone who did not agree with him, alienated himself and his government from the concerns and cries of many Zambian people and behaved as though he was running a kingdom, not a democratic state. Many times many well-meaning people including The Post, the Church, civil society and other ordinary Zambians offered free advice to Rupiah on how he and his government could govern the country better but Rupiah and his lieutenants like Ronnie Shikapwasha and George Kunda ignored such advice or dismissed the advisors as opposition surrogates."
Sishuwa said President Sata had also throughout his political career always identified himself with the people, especially the poor.
"Very humble, Sata lacks the pomposity of Hakainde Hichilema or the thriving tactics of Frederick Chiluba. He learnt from Chiluba's good points - his ability to promise people what they want, to identify with people and their needs, and to play the part of the ordinary citizen who can represent all citizens," said Sishuwa.
"He did not have to unlearn Chiluba's bad point of being a thief, because Sata seems interested in power and not theft. His language is appealing. Never lost for words, Sata's language is picturesque, appealing, discursive and entertaining. He possesses an effortless command of the illuminating and hilarious metaphor and has boundless energy which cannot permit him to sit down quietly for a long time."
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