Main opposition and PF rival, UPND president, Hichilema has taken the ultimate gamble after some protracted negotiations with big fish politicians that have recently joined the party founded by his predecessor, late Anderson Mazoka. The big name politicians that have joined the UPND were seen to take a public photo to give a human facade to the tough backroom negotiations that characterized the run up to the nominations.
Some of the big name politicians that were present hours before the unveiling of the running mate nominee include former Acting President and Veep in the governing PF government, Dr. Guy Scot, Former republican Vice President and ‘ousted’ MMD president, Dr. Nevers Mumba, Former Veep in the MMD government, Lupando Mwape, UPND second veep, Canicious Banda, Former PF Commerce deputy Minister, Miles Sampa among others. These men are expected to have negotiated and locked in agreements for ministerial and other government positions in the event that Hichilema scoops the polls.
The UPND has recently undergone massive transformation with the aim of rubbing off its political tag as a regional party. With the amendment to the constitution requiring that a presidential candidate requires a 50+1 and running mate to ascend to the highest and most prestigious office in Zambia. These requirements have left no option but for political players to forge all sorts and manner of alliances to stand a chance of winning the polls.
Hichilema’s outcome from this high stakes gamble are well known. There are three main outcomes that abound. The first and his most preferred outcome is obviously that he wins the polls. This is the main basis on which the selection of GBM is based on. GBM who has practically etched himself the expected ability to split the Copperbelt and Northern voting blocks so that Hichilema who has managed to retain his voting blocks intact can pick some from PF and President Lungu’s aligned North Eastern voting block to carry the day.
The second most preferred outcome for Hichilema is to go for a nail biting finish with President Lungu and force a government of National unity. His aggressive media team for both local and international coverage is already making headways in this area. The PF media team and the bureaucratic state controlled media has not been able to effectively counter some of these overtures. With more inroads in this area, any negative outcome for the UPND will attract powerful international goodwill that may just leave Zambia with no option but form a government of national Unity.
The last but not the least possible outcome is Hichilema losing to incumbent President Lungu. This will definitely lead to Hichilema’s end of political career as he will loose both his political position and party to one of the big name politicians, with most pundits betting on GBM to take over the control and leadership of the UPND. Even if this outcome may look the worst, if UPND mostly returns parliamentary seats in their South-Western strong holds, this may provide an avenue for the MPs from that region to ditch the current UPND with all the top heavy new entrants and regroup to start another political project.
If you look at all the above three most likely outcomes from the gamble, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why Hichilema had taken this high stakes gamble. It’s his best shot and most likely his last, even in the event of a negative outcome. If you look at the possible running mates and the above scenarios, it’s an easy decision. The work now cut out for Hichilema is to simply stroke the egos of his followers and assure them of his continued loyalty.