AS expected, the latest opinion poll on voter behaviour and candidate choice has seen sharp reactions from those who fared badly in the poll. One of them is Andyfrod Banda from the People’s Alliance for Change and perpetual crybabies, the UPND.
With over four decades of multi-party democracy, Zambia should at least by now embrace the use of opinion polls on key governance issues including elections.
In other developed democracies, opinion polls are part of the democratisation fabric.
Polls are fully entrenched in the cultures of those nations and are generally accepted as a credible and scientific tool of measuring public opinion on a matter of importance.
A simple analysis of the poll results released on Sunday confirms what is already on the ground. The poll result speaks to the actual voter behaviour across the five sampled regions of the country. On candidate choice, the results are very consistent with the general feeling on the ground and the results overall resonate with the actual results of the past few general elections.
Simply put, the opinion poll results are not out of character with the way Zambians feel about the parties contesting. In fact, the biggest opinion poll is actually the one done a few years ago in the last few elections through which Zambian voters shouted their loudest for their love for Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
It therefore follows that Mr Banda and all those disputing the findings should instead take time to study the results and use the remaining few weeks before August 12 to work on their shortcomings.
Pouring scorn on the academic qualifications or lack of for the pollsters does very little to take away from the substance of the poll results. Undermining the methodology and the sample size doesn’t help much either.
We know from the background of this poll that this was a partial poll as a further five provinces are being worked on whose results will be ready in the first week of August.
It will be of great help for Mr Banda and his friends in the opposition to introspect and ask themselves tough questions about their role in the democratic development of our nation.
We are of a firm belief that the opposition need to market their policies and convince the Zambians of their suitability to rule this nation than attacking opinions of ordinary voters.
Moreover, most of these opposition leaders are only known in the four walls of their homes. The little I know about Mr Banda is that nobody knows where he came from!
Going forward, we need to intensify civic education programmes to unlock the minds of our future generations to embrace divergent opinions. We should also impress upon political players to develop thick skins and become more tolerant to opinions, especially those that might not be very savoury.
Like the Father of Zambia’s democracy Dr Frederick Chiluba would say, “It’s a democracy.”
BOWMAN CHILOSHA LUSAMBO.