When we look around and ask ourselves where the help for Zambia will come from, it makes our hearts bleed. Ordinarily, Zambians would have been so certain by now which direction to go, but that is not as straightforward as it seems, at least not to us.
Our opinion on Zambia’s future looks at this whole matter more pragmatically. We are very alive to the realistic possibilities that lie in the outcome of general elections in Africa. That is why every time we look over the horizon, we ask this difficult question: what if PF wins again in 2021? Will Zambia survive another five years of Mr Edgar Lungu’s regime?
Let’s be realistic; PF cannot be ruled out of 2021. Those who think that Zambia is so decided about the fate of the ruling party to the extent that the opposition will have a walkover are merely cheating themselves. Those who think PF is certainly on the way out no matter what happens are flirting with heart attacks and depression because that is still far from obvious.
This is the reality that scares us. Like we have said before, we have no personal problem with President Lungu. We harbour no hate in our hearts against him and we are proud that he is a living testimony of how an ordinary man from the compounds can rise to become Head of State. So, we always pray for his good health and that God should give him the desired strength to deliver the country to the next juncture. But we don’t think he must continue thereafter.
As a newspaper, we embrace Mr Lungu but still regard him as a well-chosen transition leader who should have left the Presidency two years ago. This has nothing to do with his ethnicity, his physical stature, his age or his religious affiliation; it’s about leadership skills. In our view, Mr Lungu finished running his transition race in 2016, but Zambians were generous enough to give him all this “extra time”. Our fear is that if PF wins again in 2021, whatever little that is left for this country will completely be destroyed. Zambia can’t afford that.
What is worse is that almost all legal minds in this country agree that the Constitution does not allow President Lungu to stand for the third time, but the ‘poor’ man is surrounded by people who are enjoying power more than him and they cannot allow him to let go of the Presidency. So, they will make sure that they push his face onto the ballot, no matter what it takes.
It is for this reason that we encourage those in the PF who have presidential ambitions to come out as soon as possible and join those who want to liberate Zambia. Apart from the options that are already available out here, the UPNDs, the NDCs, the PACs, the DP, the MMDs, there should be a new force that must emerge from within the Patriotic Front so that in an event that the ruling party wins in 2021, that individual can clean up the mess like Levy Mwanawasa did between 2001 and 2008.
Yes, it is not going to be easy and that person will be fought tooth and nail by President Lungu’s inner circle. But as long as that aspirant is a clean contender with no record of corruption or violence, we are certain that they will receive a lot of support from beyond the boundaries of the Patriotic Front.
We know many Zambians today who are undecided. They are not moved by Mr Hakainde Hichilema because they don’t see how UPND will be different from PF, but at the same time, they want PF to go because of what it has done to Zambia under President Lungu.
This is the reason why we feel the PF needs to cleanse itself before going to the next general election. That way, if the opposition fails to change government, Zambia will be left in better hands under the same party. There are those who are saying it will be easier to defeat PF if it maintains Lungu as its candidate, but that thinking is lopsided because, by now, we must be agreeing that Zambians don’t learn, and the incumbent is still capable of winning again.
The PF needs a Levy Mwanawasa to emerge from within and rescue the dream of their founding father, Michael Sata. We know there are many senior members who admit that the party has brought Zambia to its knees. Even the youths know this, that’s why some of them have already broken away to form their own party. Moments like this call for men and women of courage. We believe PF can do better than this; but if this is all they have left to contest the 2021 elections, so be it!