President Edgar Lungu is right that if the Constitutional Court declares him ineligible to stand in 2021, there will be chaos. We totally agree with the Head of State, and in fact this is what we warned about in our editorial opinion titled “Let’s discuss Lungu’s successor now”.
In our opinion, we said “those in the Patriotic Front can choose to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that it is too early to table the PF succession, but the truth of the matter is that ‘who succeeds Lungu?’ is the elephant in the room. Even those in the PF want to know if they will be campaigning for the same candidate again, but they just don’t want to talk about it. They are afraid of being misunderstood.”
We are glad that our Head of State has succeeded to draw everyone’s attention to this burning issue in a very sincere way. In fact, we shall never get a more honest President than Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu – a man of his words.
Several people who have made comments on this issue argue that there cannot be chaos in Zambia just because one man has been disqualified from recontesting the presidency. Our opinion is that they are wrong and President Lungu is right.
You see dear readers, President Lungu is a sponsored candidate and his sponsors have a huge interest in his presidency. There are some businessmen who pumped in a lot of money to put President Lungu where he is today and these people are not yet done making profit from their ‘investment’. When you hear the President warning that what the Kenyan judges did to Uhuru Kenyata can cause chaos in Zambia, that is exactly what he means. He knows that those backing his candidature for 2021 are willing to shed blood in order to protect their interests in government. If we were having elections next year and our Constitutional Court judges disqualified President Lungu today, this country would be on fire. Opposition political parties would be drawn in the confusion leading to a real State of Emergency.
That is why we are very excited that President Lungu has shifted his eligibility case into top gear, four year ahead of the next elections. This means that the chaos President Lungu is worried about will be restricted within the Patriotic Front and his inner circle.
If President Lungu is disqualified from standing again, there will be mayhem in PF. There will be chaos at State House. There will be pandemonium among government contractors and PF financiers. The fight will not be over who will lead the country, but who will protect them from the law for the wrongs they are committing today.
This is the chaos that the country should prepare to see. As citizens, we should be eager to witness this chaos in PF since they claim to be the most democratic party. We encourage those who have presidential ambitions to announce their availability as soon as what President Lungu has predicted comes to pass. That way, Zambians will have ample time to assess them.
A few weeks ago, we would be saying this was a very unlikely possibility. But in Eastern Province they say Nkhalamba ikamina, matenda yakula (when a village elder visits a patient and walks away blowing his nose, it means the illness is beyond redemption). We believe that President Lungu wouldn’t have gone in front of cameras to blow his nose if his presidency was enjoying good health.
In Northern Province they say Ifyakulya ubushiku fitulikila kumalushi, meaning what you eat during the night gets exposed from your vomits in the morning. President Lungu has heard bad news coming out of the Constitutional Court. He swallowed very unpleasant information under the cover of night that he can’t stomach any more. Therefore, when he travelled to Solwezi, he started vomiting and now the whole country knows what he ate.
We are not surprised how President Lungu picked this information from what should be an independent arm of government; this happens all the time whenever the courts are handling a sensitive political matter. We have heard stories that if they have an interest in a given matter, PF lawyers sometimes draft judgments on behalf of a sitting judge. This makes it very difficult for our learned judges to make independent decisions; decisions which are backed by the law. These are the abominable conditions under which our Judiciary operates.
That is why at this stage, we doubt that the Constitutional Court judges will handle the pressure from the Executive. They are likely to pass a ruling that favors the man who gave them jobs. We actually foresee a situation where, when push comes to shove, the defence chiefs will be involved in influencing the judges, on the pretext of preventing political turmoil. This is what they did to Dr Guy Scott during the “Acting President” dispute following Michael Sata’s death. But should the judges choose to be adventurous and show President Lungu the end of the tunnel – which they can because not all of them are puppets – then the Head of State should have no one to blame but himself.
We say this because Zambia is now running on the “Edgar Lungu Constitution”. He is the one who assented to the amended Constitution in which the presidential tenure is defined. If he signed without reading, he should not involve the rest of the citizens in his predicament.
Suggesting that it would be unfair to stop him from standing for the third time because others like UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema had contested presidential elections five times, made President Lungu sound like junta was forcing him to speak.
However, if there were no external influences affecting the President’s reasoning, it means Mr Lungu is serious about having his face on the ballot papers five times or more. How he intends to make this possible, we don’t know. But we know that, just like God in heaven and bus drivers in Lusaka, President Lungu in State House is also capable of making a way where there is no way.