We have read and heard many Zambians express their displeasure with the manner in which President Edgar Lungu is running government affairs and the ruling party. Several people, including ourselves have condemned his vengeful and dictatorial style of leadership; and in our case, we still insist that our Head of State is not the best that Zambia has to offer for the job. But the fact remains that he is the elected Republican President, and those whom we think can run our country better, are not. Those whom we thought ran our country more efficiently in the past, are gone. Now is Chagwa time!
What happened on October 28, 2017 during Michael Sata’s memorial at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus, is testimony to the fact that some citizens are grappling to cope with the above stated reality. For some reason, those who worked in Sata’s government feel President Lungu has strayed too far away from the former president’s style of leadership; which is true, but that in itself cannot be termed as bad leadership.
Why do we say this? In 2001, Levy Mwanawasa took over the presidency from Frederick Chiluba and many people in MMD expected him to run government the same way that his predecessor did. If Mwanawasa listened and adopted Chiluba’s well-known legacy, Zambia would not be where it is today. In his own wisdom, Mwanawasa decided to turn against the founders of MMD. He picked his own team and targeted those who handed him political power and prosecuted them for theft, starting with Chiluba himself. This excited many Zambians who today rate Mwanawasa as Zambia’s greatest president. Our point is; a good leader doesn’t necessarily need to imitate his predecessor; he must be a man of his own or a woman of her own.
We can ask our elders who were there when Zambian traditions permitted a relative of the deceased to take over a widow in matrimony; was the new husband expected to conduct ‘business’ exactly the same way his late brother did? We don’t think so. To be a responsible head of the house, the new husband would have to do away with the bad habits and introduce new prosperous measures for the wellbeing of the family.
If a president messes up a country, he must take responsibility without throwing the blame on those who led before him. If he achieves, he must be allowed to take credit for his good decisions without his predecessors attempting to take away the glory. Chiluba never took credit for the MMD’s approach in fighting corruption, it was Mwanawasa’s “New Deal” style of leadership. In the same vein, Rupiah Banda chose his own team and moved away from Mwanawasa’s legacy. If he ended up plunging the country back into corruption, we should not blame it on his failure to imitate his predecessor’s leadership style, but the fact that he failed to introduce a new approach and aim higher.
This brings us to where we are with President Lungu and his “failure” to govern like Michael Sata. We are baffled that in one breath, Zambians describe Sata as a bad leader who left Zambia in a terrible leadership crisis. But in the same breath, they accuse Lungu of betraying Sata’s legacy. Which legacy? Why should Lungu follow through with Sata’s legacy which they despise? We join those who hold the opinion that President Lungu has performed badly in upholding Zambia’s democratic tenets, but we don’t blame that on his failure to do the things Sata did.
If Sata decided to maintain his phone number after going to State House, we should admire his courage to face the past. But we should not expect President Lungu to use the same cell phone number he used as a lawyer so that some irritating client can be pestering him over some old debt. If President Lungu has given half his presidential powers to his press aide and political advisor, let’s take that as his style of leadership. If Zambians hate it, they have the right to vote him out at the next election. We want President Lungu to be a man of his own. If anything, he must stop trying to be like Sata because he cannot succeed at claiming to be Sata’s dream carrier without sounding silly.
We also find it senseless to hear this reference by the past administration of saying Sata wouldn’t have chased this one, or Sata would have forgiven this one. Let those who have been sidelined, fired, transferred etc, deal with their predicaments without blaming the injustice on failure by the incumbent to run government like Sata did. Those who were working with Sata and are now out, should not expect to be treated like they were Sata himself. Yes, they are being ill-treated, but they should fight against the injustices of this particular government as a new regime. They can choose to form their own parties or even join the opposition UPND to dislodge PF, but they should not blame their vengeful decisions on Sata’s death.
Sata fired Sebastian Zulu, his first justice minister, Zulu made a personal decision not to join the opposition MMD and dislodge PF. Sata fired Given Lubinda, the Kabwata MP chose to remain in the ruling party. Therefore, what Chishimba Kambwili is doing has nothing to do with Sata. Kambwili has the right to form a party of his own and kick PF out if he has what it takes, but he doesn’t need to ride on Sata’s name and start glorifying him like the late president never made mistakes. Kambwili must not give us the manifesto of wanting to take Zambia back to the Sata days. Let him promise us that he will resuscitate the country from the current beatings, because that is the leadership Zambians are looking for.
Therefore, when we analyse President Lungu’s performance, let us not set Sata as his barometer. Let him choose to govern us mwamene aimvelela and we shall also judge him mwamene timumvelela!