As President Edgar Lungu makes his address to Parliament on progress made in the implementation of national values and principles, all eyes and ears will be on him.
There is a good reason for this. The nation has gone through some of the most heartbreaking experiences we have ever had. What started as almost nonsensical acts of criminals in Chingola a few months ago spiralled into a national crisis that is not common in Zambia. What came to be known as gassing crimes covered a huge chunk of the country. And those reckless acts of criminal vandalism and terror soon changed the behaviour of our usually civil, peace-loving and law abiding citizens into angry mobs that we could not recognise.
We have never before had the callous instant justice mobs burning fellow citizens on mere suspicion of crime. This is something that should make every Zambian truly sad and annoyed. This is not who we are. We have our differences, but we are not blood thirsty, we have never been! Zambians hate the sight of blood. There is nothing we value more than the life of a human being. This is why when someone dies, communities normally join in collective grief, even the deceased person’s enemies turn up to mourn and wish they had made up before that person died. This is how we are. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Zambians are good people, and that’s something we must celebrate and fight to keep.
The gassing incidences that the country has experienced do not seem to have been orchestrated by ordinary Zambians, not even ordinary criminals. Vice-President Inonge Wina has told the nation that the operation seemed to have been carried out with military precision and planning. We agree with her absolutely. So, the question remains: who in this country has the capacity to carry out such a widespread operation and get away with it?
As unfortunate as it might be, the finger seems to be pointing at the State. This is why every well-meaning Zambian expects the President to use his address to Parliament to explain what is happening. His own behaviour over the last months, as this issue spiralled out of control, is unfortunate, if not suspicious. How can a President keep quiet when, according to his own Police Chief, 50 helpless Zambians have been mercilessly executed by angry mobs? This behaviour is not normal. We would have expected the President to come out and address the nation much earlier to stop what was going on. What is his reason for keeping quiet?
The job of a President is, first and foremost, to run the country and to prioritise the interests of the nation. But President Lungu seems to have a problem with that job description. His tone and behaviour is that of an irresponsible cadre. To him, it seems, PF is more important than the nation. His holding on to power is more important than the safety of Zambians. How else can we interpret his coldness in the wake of the brazen murders that we have experienced as a nation?
There are children who witnessed those murders. What have they done to them? What example are we setting for the future generation? This level of irresponsibility is totally unacceptable and should not be entertained by anyone. These are the things we should be hearing from a Head of State. Unfortunately, we have to say that President Lungu has failed to run this country and if anyone has any doubts, this is just one of the many clear examples. How can the President fail to mourn such gruesome murders? Those who planned these gassings, thinking that they could control the outcome, now have blood on their hands.
Those who have died are people with families and loved ones. No one deserves to die like that. And the President who should be the chief mourner chose to be quiet. Why? Something is amiss! In fact, this whole matter raises more questions that the President and those close to him will have to answer. As we count the people who have been arrested during this period, we note one very high profile arrest of a famous Chingola based Jerabo commander – Kabaso Mulenga, popularly known as Spax Mining.
What is the connection of Spax to this whole story? Many people in the country are connecting the arrest of this man to the gassing incidences, but the government is choosing to keep quiet about what people want to know. They now want the nation to believe that Spax has been arrested because of some murder. When did this murder take place? Who was murdered? By who? Spax Alone? Why is Spax being arrested now? Was someone protecting him before?
All these are legitimate questions that require honest answers. We have reached a point where President Lungu and those closest to him need to understand that dishonesty will not help them. They need to take stock of their behaviour and put the country ahead of their personal interests. If they fail to behave properly, there will be a price to pay for this. The blood of those who have died demands answers.
As he address the National Assembly today, President Lungu should man up and tell the nation what is happening. If President Lungu cannot speak about the lives of those who have died, his address will be immoral. Zambians demand a moral address to talk about those who have died and their rights. You cannot cheapen the lives of our people by calling them collateral damage. Those people who were burnt or shot by police are fathers, mothers, brothers, sister, sons and daughters. They are somebody’s relatives. Please respect the sanctity of life!