Following the closure of nominations for presidential candidates on Friday last week, the participating political parties are now set to roll out robust and spirited campaigns for the forthcoming general elections.
This year’s elections are quite different in many aspects from the previous ones due to a number of changes that have been introduced to the electoral system following the newly amended Constitution. As such, it should be borne in mind by every political party looking forward to amassing the much needed votes to employ well thought out strategies to woo support from the electorate.
It is commonly said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. We are convinced that party mobilisation at the grassroots level is very cardinal for any political party intending to form government after the August 11 general elections. Let alone the seriousness of the party officials involved in the preparation of party activities.
The failure to file in nominations at parliamentary level by some Patriotic Front party candidates, Dr John Phiri and Dr Simbyakula, for Lundazi Central and Muchinga constituencies respectively, sends a very negative message to the electorate. It somewhat shows that there is dire need for the ruling party to put its house in order.
We note that the ruling Patriotic Front appears to have negated the requisites of ensuring that they garner the much needed votes which would catapult them past the 50 percent plus 1 threshold by not organising the lower party structures or the grassroots.
As such the concerns raised by one of the Patriotic Front party founder members, Mr Mubanga Chileshe, deserve serious attention if at all it is to bounce back into government after the August general elections. It is vital for the top Patriotic Front officials to make sure that they let the money and other resources allocated towards mobilising the grassroots trickle down to the intended party activities. When the party members at the lower ranks become disgruntled because of lack of resources to vigorously engage in campaigns, it definitely goes without saying that the voters might just do a donchi kubeba on the polling day.
We hope President Edgar Lungu shall break the barrier created by those surrounding him who are allegedly preventing him from mingling with the grassroots.
The large crowds of people that attended the mega rallies in Lusaka and Ndola at the National Heroes and Levy Mwanawasa stadia to mark the launch of the party manifesto for the period 2016 to 2021 and nationwide campaigns, is testimony of the popularity the ruling party enjoys. This popularity should, however, not blind the top party officials of their urgent obligation to knit the party at the lower ranks.
It is one thing for those surrounding the party president to continuously tell Edgar Lungu of how popular the Patriotic Front has become, but another to maintain the status quo. In 2011, the former president Rupiah Banda fell in the same trap that President Lungu is in today where those surrounding him then sang popularity lullabies. Little did he know that what he was being told was not reflective of the reality at the grassroots. Needless to state that history has a tendency to repeat itself.
It is very dangerous for the ruling party to be over-confident about winning the August general elections because, just like pride, it usually precedes one’s fall.