President Edgar Lungu says he is confused by ‘baseless’ allegations suggesting that he is a foreigner from Malawi. In his reaction to claims by Mike Mulongoti, the Head of State said the opposition leader was sounding like a mad man because his allegations were not making sense.
“That Jonathan [Mutaware] who they are alleging that I am, I don’t even know where he was buried. Oh! They are saying Chagwa alifwa, newabapo nine (Chagwa died and I am) Jonathan, this is so confusing,” said President Lungu at a campaign rally last weekend.
As a news organisation, we thought this issue did not deserve national debate for various reasons; including the fact that it is far from what is actually directly devastating the people of Zambia. Instead of tracing President Lungu’s origins, we should have been tracing the source of corruption at State House, digging out the President’s criminality and showing Zambians why they are suffering under his leadership.
But the Head of State has now messed himself up on this matter, and citizens who did not care about the ‘nonsense’ are now beginning to pay attention. Although President Lungu finds the allegations from Mulongoti confusing, it is actually his mouth which is confusing people. Because of his contradictory mouth, people who had no reason to doubt that Mr Lungu was a Zambian citizen are beginning to ask questions.
In November 2014, when he was being considered as a PF presidential candidate Mr Lungu’s mouth told public media that he was a bonafide Zambian citizen. He said his mother was born in Chitupula village in Chief Kalindawalo’s area in 1936 and not Malawi. He added that his mother’s name was Eliza Jere whose National Registration card number was 135619/67/1 captured on 16th December 1965. (https://www.lusakatimes.com/2014/11/22/parents-zambians-edgar-lungu/)
Two month’s later on 27th January 2015, shortly after being elected Head of State, Mr Lungu travelled to Zimbabwe where his mouth told The Herald Newspaper that both his parents hailed from Mukwama Village in Petauke. To date it is the only known interview in which the Head of State talked about his primary background. He said because he used to be beaten by bullies on his way to and from school, he changed primary schools frequently – moving from Mutende primary school to Chimwemwe ‘A’ primary, then Ishuko primary school and back to Mutende in Kwacha Township. (https://www.herald.co.zw/meet-zambian-president-edgar-chagwa-lungu/)
Then there was silence. Mr Lungu returned to Zambia and started governing, until his public image builder called Antony Mukwita brought out a book depicting the President’s life history. This is where the mess started. Contradictions emerged, giving credence to the allegations by Mulongoti and his ‘mad’ friends.
“In one profile upon his elevation to Minister of Defence, it was reported that the President comes from chief Kambombo of Chama while his biography states that he comes from Mukwama village in Petauke near the Malawian border. The authorized biography shows a picture of a house different from the actual house number 4001 in Chimwemwe where the President claims to have once lived,” observed Mulongoti.
In a desperate attempt to disqualify the allegations that the Head of State was a foreigner, the State sent Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) to go and interview the President’s relatives in Mukwama village. But the outcome of their investigation further contradicted what came out of the President’s mouth, a couple of years back.
They interviewed Senior Chief Kalindawalo who merely confirmed that the President’s parents came from his chiefdom – the father from Mukwama Village and the mother from Simambumbu Village. But the President said his mother was from Chitupula Village.
According to ZANIS, President Lungu’s cousin Joyce Miliya Zulu said President Edgar Lungu’s father was called Padule Lungu while his mother’s name was Zanalesi Zulu. To the contrary, President Lungu remembers that his mother who was born in Chitupula was named Eliza Jere.
This is what should confuse the Head of State. Instead of questioning the sanity of those doubting his nationality, President Lungu must ring his cousin Joyce and ask her why she was naming someone else as his mother? He must ask Senior Chief Kalindawalo why he was telling ZANIS that the President’s mother was born in a different village than what State House is telling the media in Lusaka.
It is this confusion which is pushing the ‘mad man’ Mulongoti to ask, “Who is saying the truth and who is lying?” Mulongoti has not only stopped at questioning President Lungu’s nationality on radio and television, he has gone further to call for an investigation from the Office of the Public Protector. The opposition leader demanded that no one else should answer on behalf of the President but himself.
We thought this matter would have been put to rest with only one statement from the Head of State, to silence those who have been ‘hallucinating’ about his nationality. It wouldn’t be a difficult task for any Zambian to prove their citizenship. To our disappointment, when President Lungu responded to the allegations at a rally on the Copperbelt last Saturday, he invited uninterested citizens to start following the debate around his identity. The President complained that in the process of tracing his origins, the ‘mad man’ mulongoti was digging out his embarrassing childhood.
“I was telling the minister yesterday that they are embarrassing me. When they went to House number 4001, they found a grandfather who told them that Chagwa used to live here and he never used to bath. They had to chase him around to get him to bath,” said President Lungu, adding that those accusing him of being a foreigner must produce proof to substantiate their allegations.
Like all the other scandals around the Head of State, this mess is self-induced. If President Lungu wants anyone else to blame for this confusion other than himself, he should point at Anthony Mukwitwa, Chief Kalindawalo and most importantly, his cousin Joyce. These are the witnesses who have failed to answer the mad man’s questions.
Very few people felt Mulongoti was making sense with his noise about Mr Lungu being a foreigner. In fact some, like us, found this a waste of time. But now almost the whole country wants to know why his siblings, if any exist, are not backing his claims. Even PF members have now joined the rest of the Zambian people who are demanding that the President must stop trivialising the issues, and give categorical answers.
As a newspaper, there is one little fact we know about Edgar Chagwa Lungu, whether it is this man in State House or it is that man whose identity was stolen by Jonathan Mutaware, as alleged by his accusers. What we know is that the family of Edgar Chagwa Lungu who is linked to Petauke, abandoned the relatives in Mukwama village. They call his family “machona”(City dwellers who never return to the village). His parents relocated to Copperbelt and as such, very few surviving relatives can remember them, while Edgar Chagwa Lungu himself who was not even born in Petuake, has no direct links to Mukwama Village. No one knows him and we are not surprised that his so-called cousin is jumbling up names.
We can’t vouch for the Head of State and testify that he is the original Edgar Chagwa Lungu. That is not for us to say. But we can say with certainty that if he is a Zambian, he is not the only citizen in this predicament. There are many residents of Lusaka, Copperbelt and along the line of rail who are lost today. They don’t know which village their parents came from. Those who know, have not cared to visit their relatives in those villages. They are happy here in Lusaka, dancing to “Ungayende Kumunzi so?” But when their citizenship is challenged, they start saying “I am confused”.
This is a lesson to other Zambians who don’t want to know their roots. President Lungu is stranded, not necessarily because he is not a citizen, he may well be a very bonafide Zambian, but he can’t point to his village because he is a machona. It is only after he contested the presidency and his nationality came into question that Mr Lungu started sending blankets to his relatives in Petauke. We know this for a fact and we know the names of the people he was sending. They were as shocked as the relatives to receive anything from Mr Lungu.
Our Head of State is a perfect example of a machona. Just like Nashil Pichen Kazembe sang in his song “A Phiri anabwela” if President Lungu carried his suitcase today to go back and settle in Mukwama village, no one would recognise him. He may be able to enjoy the local brew but he definitely wouldn’t be able to narrate stories from Lusaka using the local language.