Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia is a perfect example in life that even the most downtrodden, the most ignored by society can one day ascend to power and lead a county of powerful rich people. President Lungu is living testimony that God can allow a common man, a sinner (like all of us) to be in charge of a country known and respected for its Christian values. Why? We don’t know and we leave that explanation to Church leaders who claim to be closer to God.
What we are sure about is that Mr Lungu is a unique President, and some Zambians are yet to come to terms with that fact. Some think he does not fit to be Head of State because he is not a good public speaker. They expect him to be a sensational orator like Frederick Chiluba with dictionary-assisted English on his lips when he addresses the nation.
But that is not what makes a good President. You can stammer in your speech (like Kaunda did), but after three broken sentences, citizens will eventually pick that you are asking them to unite and love one another. You can be physically disabled, using the aid of a wheelchair to move from your office to your car, that does not make you a weak leader. You can be rich with lots of cars and beautiful houses, that still doesn’t make you a strong or likable leader.
We are reminded of Michael Sata’s uniqueness. Many Zambians who voted for Sata in 2011 associated with him because they felt he was a poor common man. They felt he was struggling to put food on the table for his family just like they did – he made them believe that. But that was not exactly true. Michael Sata was not a poor man; it will take the beneficiaries of his estates a while to exhaust what he left behind for them. However, he was humble, and that is what makes a big difference.
We are not asking Mr Edgar Lungu to be like Michael Sata, he can never be like him. There will never be anyone like him. We would like Mr Lungu to be unique to himself; to continue being a living testimony that, a nobody can become a somebody and lead the some of us.
Just like Michael Sata, President Lungu managed to convince people that he was a humble, God-fearing man. People believed that they were voting for one of their own – a president who is not shy to say that he enjoys his beer but he is prayerful and humble.
However, we are worried that President Edgar Lungu’s true colours are beginning to show, and in a very dangerous way. Well, he hasn’t started showing those colours today. Since his first election in January 2015, his language has been that of threatening to fall on people like a tonne of bricks, whipping his opponents with a long stick which he moves with e.tc. We thought he was merely trying to assert himself against the people who had colluded to prevent him from ascending to power. We never thought he was a proponent of physical violence.
His statement at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe on Saturday has proved us wrong. President Lungu said he is ready for violence. He did not say he is ready to STOP violence; he said he is ready for it. That statement alone gave Mr Lungu away as a President who is capable of warmongering. In that statement alone, President Lungu indirectly ordered the party youths on the Copperbelt to be ready for violence and to take on Chishimba Kambwili as well as Mwenya Musenge who are seen to be disloyal to him.
It has never happened anywhere in the world that a Head of State can show open willingness to engage in violence for the sake of commanding respect from his foes. Strangely, President Edgar Lungu is not known to be a physically tough man. We have seen him jogging, but we are not sure if he can stand a physical fight. That is why he was telling the police to be on standby to protect him if the violence he was anticipating erupted. But Kambwili and Musenge don’t have police to protect them. They don’t have soldiers to fight for them. They may own a gun or two but they can’t take on the heavily armed police whom the President is pitting them against.
The Church may have contributed to the genocide in Rwanda, as President Lungu told congregants in Ndola on Sunday. But it must be noted that the section of the church that is accused of contributing to the mass murders of the Tutsis in that country was the Catholic wing which was too close to the Hutu-led government, and not those who were condemning government high-handedness. President Lungu should therefore be wary of those in the Church who are cheering all his actions without criticism, they may promote state-sponsored tribalism.
In fact, that was just in Rwanda where 800,000 people lost lives. But in nearby Congo DR, over 5 million people have died as a result of war in that country since 1998, yet the church did not fuel the turmoil that continues to ravage old Zaire. It is arrogant, pompous selfish leaders who played the role of war mongering. The same was the situation in neighbouring Mozambique and Angola. Therefore, the President should stop blaming the Church in Zambia for the fall of democracy and rise of violence; the Church in this country has always stood on the side of ordinary citizens – protecting their rights and freedoms. The church has never advocated for tribalism in Zambia. No Church leader has ever said they are ready for violence. But the President is technically pitting church leaders against one another so that he can share the blame with them for what will remain of Zambia after his time in State House is over.
The President cannot continue to claim that the Church is confusing him by speaking different voices, when he has the power in his hands to command the leadership of all the church mother bodies to a meeting. The church mother bodies claim that they issued a strong statement against the PF leadership because State House didn’t grant them access to the President’s office when they wanted to offer their counsel. To date, President Lungu has not attempted to prove Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu wrong by inviting him to go to State House for a discussion. Now, if a church leader as powerful as the Catholic Archbishop of Lusaka can fail to seek audience with the Head of State, what more us ordinary citizens? Where is the open-door policy that the President keeps talking about? If Elias Chipimo of NAREP says he has tried to meet President Lungu to share his Twenty Percent Generation plan – for free – and the Head of State has no time for him, what kind of agenda does one need to flaunt to the President in order to capture his attention?
In case the President of Zambia has not realised, the incident where his PF cadres violently clashed with UPND supporters at a graveyard in Lusaka, leaving four seriously injured, happened at the exact time when he was declaring his readiness for violence in Ndola. Zambians are still waiting for him to order an investigation into how it all started. That is if indeed he detests violence – but does he?
We feel a President needs to be more careful with what he says, taking into consideration that his statements are government policy and official position of the political party that sponsored him into power. President Lungu should not be proud when he makes statements which discomfort people including those in his political party. At the moment, he is making the job of those who are paid to defend his statements very difficult. If we are wrong, we challenge Mr Amos Chanda and Mr Sunday Chanda to explain to the Zambian people what the Head of State meant when he said “I am ready for violence”.
As a small group of young citizens who are trying to make a small contribution to the governance and development of Zambia, we are disappointed with our President. He is forcing us to see him as an arrogant and pompous President, a dangerous one for that matter, who is ready to sponsor violence between the police and those citizens who don’t agree with him.