AS is well acknowledged by all, Edgar ChagwaLungu (ECL) staged a coup in December 2014 en-route to becoming Zambia’s sixthrepublican president following Michael Sata’s death.

Almost a decade later, on Independence Day, Miles Sampa, who had been a victim of ECL's rise to power, skillfully turned the tables by executing a decisive political move against his former rival.

Where ECL and his team were once comfortably installed inside looking out, they now suddenly find themselves outside looking in.

From Sampa’s standpoint, his political strike was a masterclass in “politricks”, an art he admitted he had learnt from none other than ECL himself.

Evidently, the problem that is manifesting within the former governing party was birthed by Sata and in a sense, the Patriotic Front died with Michael Sata.

Galvanising society’s lumpens into the party, with his lowest common denominator rubble rousing eloquence, it was the same social scum that was to morph into the lawless thuggery commonly referred to as “cadres.”

True, cadres have always been a feature of Zambian politics, right back to pre-independence Northern Rhodesia.

In those days cadres were referred to as “youths”, and then as is the case today, they continue to play a crucial role in political mobilisation and are indispensable for any political formation.

The caveat is that they need an enforcer to keep them in check and luckily for the PF, Sata was himself the chief enforcer and when not playing that role, delegated responsibility to his reliable and fearless co-enforcer, Willie Nsanda.

But Nsanda’s sudden death in March 2015 was a double blow, coming hard on the heels of Sata’s own demise the previous year, and it let loose the cadre’s unfettered reign of terror.

Yes, ECL was Head of State, but only in theory because in reality he was a stooge who had ceded control to the unruly rank and file and their backers behind the scenes.

It is this lawlessness epitomised by the cadre culture, that prevented the PF from taking ECL to task as he was essentially above the law.

Hiding in the shadows, ECL was determined to remain in the saddle at the helm of a party from which he had constitutionally and publicly resigned.

Additionally, the fight for the Presidency in the aftermath of Sata’s death plunged the party into a bruising political brawl that saw it split into factions that were on show this past fortnight – akin to chickens coming home to roost.

The future is always uncertain and the future of the PF similarly hangs in the balance now.

Illegalities committed will now have to run their course in the courts, a process that can only rob the party’s capacity to function and render it moribund in the run-up to elections in 2026.

Like clockwork, history repeats itself.

Sampa lost out in 2014 to ECL, where ECL loses out to Sampa in 2023. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy was embroiled in internal party wrangles, court cases and eventual death after its 2011 loss to PF and the same is now happening to the PF after its 2021 loss to UPND.

Photo credit: Sampa's Facebook Page