State House press aide Amos Chanda says President Edgar Lungu is very relaxed, knowing with absolute certainty that there is no way in hell that the impeachment motion filed by the opposition UPND will succeed.
Mr Chanda observed during a press conference that the opposition party does not have the required number of parliamentarians to support the motion and as such, only Freemason spirits could intervene in favour of the UPND.
Apart from the usual sarcasm, we agree with Mr Chanda that this motion is highly unlikely to succeed. However, it serves as a serious reminder to President Lungu that ultimately, power belongs to the people. It is a statement to the Head of State that there comes a time in the life of the most powerful rulers on Earth when they have to kneel down before the powerless to beg for help.
Immediately after the UPND laid the motion of impeachment on the table of the National Assembly, the authority for President Edgar Lungu to continue in office was taken away from him and handed to Patriotic Front members of parliament.
For President Lungu to continue as President of Zambia, he needs the vote from that poor member of parliament from Chimbamilonga and other silent back benchers. To survive impeachment, the President needs the support of MPs like Lloyd Kaziya who may be as aggrieved as Chishimba Kambwili and Harry Kalaba.
No long ago, the PF secretariat was arrogantly telling off talkative members of parliament to leave the party if they were not happy with President Lungu’s style of leadership. Today, Tutwa Ngulube is more powerful than President Lungu and it is up to him to decide whether the Head of State continues in office or not.
There is something for President Lungu and other political leaders to learn here. Without the poor, the rich wouldn’t be rich; without the powerless, the powerful wouldn’t be powerful. Therefore it is very important for those who occupy political leadership to realise that they are on top because of the people who are below them. Gravity entails that the higher you climb, the harder the fall – and it is the people to decide when you must fall.
Just two months ago, president Jacob Zuma was the most powerful man in South Africa with substantial influence on the judiciary, not to mention his control of Parliament. There was no opposition party strong enough to remove Zuma from power and he mocked the opposition leaders every chance he got.
Little did Zuma know that his time in office was actually over and the same political party that sponsored him to be President; the same members of parliament who were made to defend his deeds, turned around and showed him the door. In the end, it was the powerless who emerged powerful. The opposition that did not have enough numbers to impeach Zuma, had the last laugh when the African National Congress booted him out. Today, he is no longer looking for where to hide the money, instead, he is looking for lawyers who can save him from going to prison.
President Lungu must not think that he is invincible in that office. The fact that the Chief Whip has to comfort him with an assurance that PF members of parliament are solidly behind him, is a reminder that he is in State House on borrowed powers and it’s not up to him to decide how long he stays there.
This impeachment motion is easy for President Lungu to survive, mostly because members of parliament don’t really represent the will of the people. Zambians may want to hear that Lungu has been impeached, but their representatives in parliament have personal interests to serve. However, this must not make those who walk in the corridors of power pompous, and assume that their comfort is for eternity.
President Lungu and his advisors must sit and reflect on what would happen to their lives if this impeachment motion, by whatever miracle succeeded. What would happen to their freedom and the illegally acquired wealth? How would they be welcomed back into society? Who would remain their friends? These questions may seem too hypothetical, but sooner or later, they will have to be answered.
And we are also deeply concerned with the President’s decision to reconsider his commitment to the scheduled Commonwealth dialogue with the opposition. We do not believe that the impeachment motion moved by the UPND does, in any way, poison the atmosphere for dialogue. That would only be the case if the opposition party engaged in violent and illegal means of attempting to remove President Lungu from power.
The Constitution of Zambia empowers the UPND to do what they have done and the same Constitution allows President Lungu to defend himself. This has nothing to do with the Commonwealth dialogue. If Mr Hichilema committed a crime today, we do not expect the State to avoid prosecuting him for fear of jeopardising the dialogue process.
It is alleged that President Edgar Lungu abused his executive powers and violated the Republican Constitution on various occasions. Instead of bragging that the PF has the required number to defend the President, let those who eat at the high table answer to the charges that the opposition has put on the table.
Mr Chanda can claim that the President is unshaken and further declare that “there is no chance in hell that the impeachment motion can succeed”, but that is just the stubbornness of a hot lump of nshima, eventually it gets to be swallowed by hunger.
Sooner or later, the three pieces of silver given to members of parliament to save the President will finish and the hungry people of Zambia will come back to swallow President Lungu and all those who are eating taxpayers money. When that happens, the PF will see the importance of dialogue.