How to Win an Election is a title of a book written in 64 B.C by one Quintus Cicero as a campaign propaganda tract for his brother, Marcus Cicero who was running for the position of Consul in The Roman Empire. That position was equivalent to Ruler. Marcus Cicero is reported to have been a great orator, perhaps the greatest orator of all time. Romans valued oratory and wisdom as did the Greeks. Because of his superior oratorical skills, Marcus Cicero could still have won the election without the help of his brother' s propaganda manifesto whose aim was to propagate that the end of an election should result in victory and whatever means is used to achieve that end was justified - hence the phrase - the end justifies the means.
Quintus advised his brother to promise everything to everybody, uncover all scandals and invent others pertaining to the opposition, especially sex scandals. Quintus advised that lying to win the vote was justified. Quintus abhorred honesty and principles. Nicola Machiavelli was not the originator of unprincipled political praxis.
It is not reported whether Marcus followed his brother's advice. He however won the election. The book is translated into English. It is not a long book.
The question we face now in Zambia and elsewhere is, is there a Marcus Cicero in Zambia? How good an orator is that Zambian? How many Marcus Ciceros has Zambia ever had, people who mesmerize the audiences and keep them glued to their every word? People who are wise! America has had Martin Luther King Jr.; Malcolm X,; Paul Robeson; Stockley Carmichael; John Kennedy; Barack Obama; Johnnie Cochran; Clarence Darrow and many many others. Every reader can name a Marcus Cicero or two somewhere.
In Zambia I can name Frederick Chiluba, but I cannot think of others. In university, I could think of Sipula Kabanje (the guy could deliver a speech) and Guy Stokes. The reader can name perhaps a lot of Zambians. I would like to know Zambian Marcus Ciceros. There is beauty in oratorical and rhetorical flamboyance in my humble opinion.
How many Quintus Ciceros are in Zambia? Political operatives whose raison d'être is to lie and lie and traffic in more lies and purvey false scandals! Political propagandists and political leaders who have no principles whatsoever but whose goal is to win an election using whatever the means. Quintus Cicero advised his brother to be like a chameleon, to change colours to suit the environment. We have plenty of these in Zambia and everywhere. Can you name any Zambian Quintus Ciceros? Mitt Romney in the US was known for annoyingly being like a Chameleon. Occasionally Chameleons do very well, they win elections. They are durable and fearsome creatures. Do not take them lightly. Constantly exposing their changing colours to suit the environment is the only way to defeat the Quintus Ciceros of this world. They abhor exposure. That is how Romney lost to Barrack Obama in the USA.
In the next several months, we will see a lot of Quintus Ciceros in Zambia. We may not see a Marcus Cicero who will dazzle us with his sweet oratory and rhetoric. There is none in the US either but more Chameleons there as well. Quintus Cicero would declare victory that his philosophy governs the universe. But hope springs eternal. The beautiful ones are not yet born according to Ghanaian Ayi Kwei Armah. I believe that they are on the way just like they did under Fidel Castro in Cuba. Barrack Obama's visit to Cuba in March 2016 rewrote the entire US history's lies that Cuba was an evil empire. Cuba is a perfect example that Quintus Cicero does not always have the last word in this world.
By Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa
The author latest book is entitled, The Case Against Tribalism in Zambia (2016) which is available at Planet Books at Arcades and Bookworld in Lusaka.
By Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa