NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili says President Edgar Lungu should have stayed away from congratulating Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni given the circumstances under which the controversial elections were held.

In an interview, Kambwili said while it was normal for Presidents to congratulate each other following election triumphs, the case of Ugandan dictator Museveni put Zambia in an awkward position.

“Congratulating a president is a normal thing that Presidents do. But sometimes, when you hear there is an outcry in that country, the people saying, ‘the elections were not free and fair,’ I think it’s only reasonable that staying away from congratulating such kinds of leaders who are elected under those circumstances because it doesn’t show good commitment to democracy. So, in my view, I think the President should have stayed away from congratulating Museveni because the circumstances under which the elections were held puts Zambia in an awkward situation in terms of supporting illegitimately-elected people,” said Kambwili, a former chief government spokesperson and Roan PF member of parliament.

On Wednesday, President Lungu announced on his official Facebook account that he had congratulated President Museveni on his re-election and stated that he and his Ugandan counterpart shared a common belief that poverty can only be wiped out of Africa if the grassroots were empowered to produce food for consumption and sale.

“I have congratulated His Excellency, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, on his victory in presidential elections held on Thursday, 14th January, 2021. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s victory has once again shown the hope, confidence, and trust that the people of Uganda have in him to continue steering the country to prosperity. I share President Museveni’s belief that poverty can only be wiped out of Africa if the grassroots are empowered to produce food for home consumption and the surplus for sale so that they earn capital. It is agriculture that shall end hunger in Africa as President Museveni always says. I am confident that Zambia and Uganda shall continue enjoying cordial relations under Mr. Museveni’s leadership. #Zambia_UgandaRelations#,” the post read

But netizens expressed disappointment with the Head of State’s statement.

Thomas Sipalo wrote:

“On Museveni, boss, I think we could have just kept quiet, he isn’t doing justice to democracy, the old man is heartless.”

Chester Tembo wrote: “Ati ‘surplus for sale’ when you are busy impounding vehicles at Kasumbalesa. That’s an opportunity for a small-scale farmer to sell his or her surplus to our eleventh province, Lubumbashi, but you have denied us. Museveni has abrogated the Constitution and if he inspires you, your Excellency, then I am bleeding for mother Zambia!”

Jacob Mutuku wrote: For a man I have adored by the way you run Zambian affairs, I am ashamed how low you can stoop! This is an historical low for you.”

William Bulaya also stated: “But mu Zambia awe sure…Fuel supply in shortage in some areas and our Head of State is quite, but congratulates the victory that has been described by many as characterised by violence, intimidation, detentions, arrests…Isoni ebuntu…”

And Sayeni Sichali wrote: “Sometimes silence is golden. Uganda is a toxic example of democracy.”

Last week, Uganda’s long-time strongman Museveni was re-elected amid accusations of vote fraud by his main rival and former pop star Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.

Museveni won almost 59 per cent of the vote, with Bobi Wine trailing with about 35 per cent, according to that country’s Electoral Commission.

However, despite President Museveni’s confirmed victory, his bitter rival, Wine, is still being held under house arrest at his Kampala home.