MMD president Nevers Mumba says the international community is trying to make use of former presidents by giving them obligations as a way of making them feel a sense of worth.

Commenting on the African Union’s decision to appoint former president Edgar Lungu as its head of election observer mission in Kenya’s elections next year, Mumba said in the absence of something to do, former presidents tend to be a source of pain in Africa.

“I think it is a global phenomenon. At the moment, international organisations are trying to make use of former presidents as a way of occupying them with [an] activity that brings worth to them. In the absence of that, a lot of former presidents have been very destructive in local politics and have been a source of a lot of pain, lack of development and even conflicts in nations. So by giving them international obligations, the international community hopes that they can feel a sense of worth, that they are still useful and that they can still serve humanity. And that life is not all about the presidency but that there are many other good things they can do. So I think from that point of view, it is expected,” he said.

“You must understand that the global community is not necessarily involved in the internal affairs of the sovereign states. Here we may have a totally different view of president Lungu, but on a bigger picture, they only assess him by the fact that he handed over power without bloodshed, without controversies. So to them, that is a plus, they only used that.”

Mumba said many people out there did not know the kind of leadership Lungu provided to Zambians.

“They are not Zambians. They don’t know the kind of leadership he provided for this country. The pain he could have induced in many Zambians, the way the economy has gone, the little space of democracy he created. All the things we have been complaining about and all the things that Zambians made them vote him out are not necessarily important to the international community. What is important is democracy, where one wins and the other one gives up. And as far as they are concerned, in a critical manner,” he said.

“So for me that’s their decision. Immediately Rupiah Banda lost, they started using him for similar activities and I don’t see the reason why they will not continue to use other former presidents. So for me, it’s a standard procedure, it’s nothing to really worry about. It’s a question of letting them know that there is more to life than just sitting at home, trying to create problems for those who have taken over from you. There are many other things you can do on the global stage and he is not the first former president they have approached. I saw Kikwete (Jakaya) was here for our elections, I saw Rupiah Banda go to several countries through the same. So it’s just a general standard that the global community uses.”

Meanwhile, the opposition leader said the UPND government should quickly repeal the Public Order Act before they got too comfortable and tried to maintain it.

“Well, we have made a statement that one of the reasons we have supported President Hichilema and his leadership as of today is that he has talked about certain things that are extremely important to us and the Zambian people. One of those is the Public Order Act. We will hold this government accountable, it’s almost a month, that they need to repeal that piece of legislation,” said Mumba.

“It will be really unfair for them not to deal with it because they have been victims of that piece of legislation just like we have been, just like I have been as an individual. They need to repeal it and they need to do it very quickly before they start to get too comfortable and have justifications why they should keep it. I think it is one of the first things they should do and they should do it like yesterday.”