University of Zambia lecturer and political commentator Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa has disagreed with the prediction by ratings agency Fitch Solutions that President Edgar Lungu may be unseated at the PF’s elective congress slated for 2020.

Responding to a press query on Fitch’s latest forecast indicating that rivals with money may unite to defeat President Lungu’s at the forthcoming party conference, Dr Sishuwa stated that such a prospect was unlikely.

“It is rendered unlikely by the fact that the president’s main challengers have already been kicked out of the PF or are on their way out. The key political figures within the ruling party who had the capacity to challenge Lungu such as Chishimba Kambwili and Harry Kalaba are now in opposition. Those still in the party such as the flip-flopping Kelvin Bwalya Fube are marginalised or simply lack the resources required to mount an effective challenge at the elective conference”, Dr Sishuwa stated.

He said the prediction by Fitch also overlooked the point that many people in PF are not opposed to Lungu’s leadership.

“After much that he has done to secure a third term from the Constitutional Court, Lungu is likely to be re-elected party president unopposed. It is important to understand that the driving energy behind the mobilisation of any social forces by individuals or groups in Zambia’s beleaguered politics today is fractional elite accumulation, which is simply the use of State power to acquire personal wealth by means both foul and fair. It is the same in the PF, and perhaps much more there. There is little else that holds the PF together other than the insatiable desire to accumulate and the fear of what might happen to them if they lose State power, the platform for organising accumulation. In this regard, why would anyone, say in Lungu’s present Cabinet, mount a leadership challenge against him when they have no basis for doing so?” Dr Sishuwa asked.

“Have you ever heard Inonge Wina, Margaret Mwanakatwe, Dora Siliya, Brian Mushimba or Alexander Chiteme, who are all formally educated, expressing any outrage or opposition to what Zambia has become under Lungu’s leadership – a deeply polarised, debt-saturated, and direction-lacking country that has little regard for the rule of law, is on the verge of economic collapse and increasingly known for an unwanted commitment to corruption and democratic backslides? No. Why? It’s probably because they either don’t see anything wrong with the status quo, lack the courage to speak out, or are preoccupied with the struggle over accumulation, not competing worldviews or principles. Many people in the PF, including those who strut around with self-importance when they are nothing but the corrupt and disposable playthings of even bigger global kleptocrats, are unlikely to be concerned about who leads the ruling party and Zambia so long as they can continue to enrich themselves and accumulate through brazen theft of public resources and the massive sale of Zambian assets to so-called investors or foreign commercial enterprises. Lungu represents their best prospects for retaining State power, so they are likely to unite behind his candidature both at the party and national levels.”

Dr Sishuwa stated that most people in PF would rather support President Lungu in order to guarantee their positions.

“Individuals, such as Minister of Justice Given Lubinda and Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde-Simukoko, who previously pretended that they serve a higher cause than that of accumulation, appear to have forgotten all their principles. Otherwise they would have resigned a long time ago when Lungu violated some of the fundamental values that they once pretended to serve. For instance, many Zambians will recall Lubinda as an opposition politician committed to combating injustice, abuse and corruption. Since assuming his position as Minister of Justice, where he could make a real difference on the issues he was apparently so passionate about, Lubinda has lost his voice and appears to have successfully subdued his previously active conscience. Just look at his behaviour over the proposed National Dialogue Bill! The former Lubinda would never have supported that claptrap. How can such a man challenge Lungu and later appeal to Zambians for support?” asked Dr Sishuwa.

“Similarly, Nonde-Simukoko, the Minister of Labour, is keeping with the traditions of her office. Zambia sadly has a long history of effective trade unionists being muted through appointments as Minister of Labour. Since her appointment in 2016, Nonde has hardly done anything that advanced the cause of the workers who she is supposed to represent and appears to be paralysed by fear of offending the delicate feelings of foreign investors. What would Joyce Nonde’s former self think of her now? Such is her loud silence on many issues she was previously passionate about, such as the appalling treatment of workers, that one could be forgiven for thinking that she was no longer alive. How can someone like that challenge Lungu or later tell Zambians that they are opposed to injustice, abuse, inequality or corruption when all this time they are indifferent to these vices? This is why I am saying that many in PF would rather support the President because his continued stay in power guarantees their positions and entrenched privileges.”