UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma’s statement ‘Siamunene stands no chance’ (Daily Nation, January 23, 2016), in which he claims that Sinazongwe member of parliament Richwell Siamunene should not cheat himself that he could win an election in his current constituency if he stood under the PF ticket because he has no following and was riding on the UPND’s popularity has really baffled me.
Unknown to many, including the UPND spokesperson, Siamunene has used his position as the minister in charge of Defence to endear himself to the grassroots civic leadership in Sinazongwe constituency with his unprecedented delivery of infrastructure development.
The UPND’s top brass would discover this very late, and despite attempts at damage control, they would not derail Siamunene’s train. His departure is perhaps the most vital blow yet to hit UPND’s chances of winning the much-coveted Zambian presidency. It is common knowledge that for a time PF had been looking for a candidate who would bring in more votes from either the plateau or Gwembe Valley of Southern Province.
To this end, the ruling party had made forays into these two vote-rich and populous constituencies seeking a suitable opinion-shaper.
Siamunene was chosen by the PF, but afterward he was expelled by the UPND.
And Siamunene decided to legally challenge his expulsion in the High Court.
For a long time Siamunene’s attributes of being non-confrontational, his cool demeanour, and his amiable character were used to mock, and even corrupt, his first name from Richwell to ‘Poorwell’, painting him as a puny weak-kneed politician by UPND hardcore cadres.
But he will be sorely missed by UPND’s campaign in Gwembe Valley.
It is this game-changing move by Siamunene which has made wags in Zambia to question UPND’s chances of clinching the presidency without the support of influential regional kingpins of Southern Province, who have abandoned the opposition party within the last 12 months.
So, was Siamunene expelled from the UPND because he’s a political genius?