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Zambia Ruling Party Denies Report Predicting Opposition Victory in August

FILE - Zambia President Edgar Lungu attends the opening ceremony of the 24th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Jan. 30, 2015.

Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party has dismissed a political report by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), published by the British-based magazine The Economist, predicting that main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development, (UPND) will win the August 11 presidential election.

In its analysis, the Economic Intelligence Unit said recent defections from the ruling PF party to the UPND, coupled with the endorsement of Hichilema by former vice president Guy Scott, a leading member of the PF, boosts the chances of the opposition leader to defeat incumbent President Edgar Lungu in the August presidential poll.

Frank Bwalya, deputy spokesman for the PF party said Zambians are solidly behind Lungu and the governing party after rejecting the electoral prediction as not a true reflection of issues on the ground.

Predicting results

He said the PF party is only interested in knowing what the EIU says about Zambia in the run up to the election. Bwalya said the EIU has often wrongly predicted several Zambian elections, which he said undermines the prediction of the opposition leader’s alleged victory in the upcoming vote.

Bwalya also dismissed suggestions in the report indicating that the endorsement by Guy Scott will help the opposition leader to win the presidential vote. He said reports of defections of hundreds of supporters from the governing PF party are misleading and inaccurate.

“Zambians don’t read the Economist Intelligence Unit report for a simple reason that they repeat what Zambians already know through their own local economists and other social commentators. So that Economist Intelligence Unit never comes up with anything new,” said Bwalya.

“Dr. Guy Scott has never been a politician who is self-made. His popularity in the country was as a result of sitting at the feet of one of the most intelligent, shrewd and accomplished politicians in our country in the name of the late Michael Sata… Now that he has betrayed the vision, the legacy of his friend, Zambians have no respect for Guy Scott.”

Economic situation

But supporters of the UPND said the governing PF party appears to be in a panic mode following the release of the EIU report on the election. They said the report is proof that the ruling party has failed to keep its promises to improve the living conditions of the people. They also said the EIU report gives their presidential candidate momentum to win the presidential vote despite the alleged power of incumbency.

PF party deputy spokesman Bwalya disagreed.

“It will not give them momentum, but of course they would be [deceived] by that,” said Bwalya. “Momentum does not come because somebody says you are going to win. In politics, momentum comes because you are gaining more numbers, you are becoming more appealing to the public or the voter and that’s how momentum comes. And these guys are not appealing to the voters. And this is why most of the people who are working with them from PF are actually saying they are not UPND they are just working with UPND.”