By Alexander Nkosi
About 75% of voters don’t understand macroeconomic performance. A sizeable proportion of the 25% who understand macroeconomic performance don’t have the patience to queue up for hours to cast their votes. For any party to win elections it is very important to fully comprehend these important statistics.
While MMD under Mwanawasa did very well on economic management by stabilising macroeconomic indicators, this was not necessarily appreciated by the 75%. They voted for Mwanawasa for reasons other than macroeconomic performance. Under the PF government, they have seen hospitals, health posts, roads, schools, hammer mills – where there was none. Even if you told them these projects are funded through borrowing, they won’t even believe a nation can borrow. The concept of national debt does not exist to them. Some actually believe all a nation has to do is print money and spend. They don’t know the meaning of taxes, exchange rate, inflation and GDP growth rate. All they understand is they need hospitals, roads, schools and other tangible things they have been denied for decades. Today they are employed in all these construction works, something they never had. You may call it casual labour but this is something they never had. You may talk about the high cost of living but these people live basic lifestyles. Most of them don’t buy mealie meal. They don’t travel frequently and the hike in fuel prices does not affect them that much. They don’t use electricity. They depend on basic commodities whose prices do not change much in relation to economic performance (check prices of commodities at Soweto market compared to shopping malls).
Do not get so excited or carried away by the negative publicity regarding debt, taxes, corruption and governance. This only excites 25% of voters and some of these do not accept it. Part of those who are convinced by this negative publicity don’t even vote. In the end it only serves to create temporal anxiety and political comedy.
Of the 75%, PF controls the larger proportion and all it has to do is work on increasing voter registration and ensure voter turn out is high in its strongholds and emphasise that it is giving them what was wrongfully and unfairly denied from them for decades. For the opposition, they have to convince smart Facebook politicians to go and queue up for hours to vote. They further have to convince the majority of the 75% that schools, hospitals, health posts, roads, bridges they never had for decades are bad for them because they were funded thorough borrowing, an explanation most of them won’t buy. PF is actually putting icing on the cake through Presidential empowerment funds and construction related jobs. They never had this, how do you convince them it is not good?
The opposition is very busy but none of what they are doing changes these dynamics. It is actually hard to see how this will change. Going into 2021, PF is comfortably in the driving seat. All it has to do is increase mobilisation, voter registration, voter turn out and pick the right candidates.