Last week we heard that President Edgar Lungu and his arch political rival Hakainde Hichilema held a secret meeting with the aim of preparing ground for the much talked about national dialogue and reconciliation.
According to the revelation made by the three church mother bodies, President Lungu metthe opposition UPND leader without any pre-conditions and under a cordial and friendly atmosphere where the two referred to each other as “brother”.
This development has not sat well with some known officials on both sides of the political divide, notably the Patriotic Front. It has hit them by surprise that the Republican President has changed his position after declaring that he would never sit across the table with Mr Hichilema on grounds that the opposition leader was trying to push for a coalition government.
Those who are disappointed and hurt with this development would have loved that the bitterness between these two political leaders got worse towards 2021 and not the other way round. They were not envisaging any reconciliation at all, and thathostile relationship between the two camps was very good for them because it gave them job descriptions. They have been so used to the routine of waking up in the morning with one agenda; attacking Mr Hichilema and the other way round for the UPND.
Lookat the PF deputy media director for example; the man is rejecting this Lungu-HH development with an arrogant contempt for the wishes of the two leaders. He personally wishes he could wake up today and hear that it was a hoax and there had been no meeting between President Lungu and Mr Hichilema, because the reality of it renders him less relevant to the political discourse in the ruling party.
“There is nothing personal between His Excellency the President and Mr Hichilema, it’s not a bromance and therefore the said meeting does not in any way change drastically the political spectrum because sincerely speaking, there is nothing monumental about it. To be clear, as PF, we shall not cow down or falter in our quest to promote and defend the truth and national sovereignty. Whenever Mr Hichilema and his UPND lie as per their strategy, we as PF will not waste a second in exposing and hammering them,” said Mr Antonio Mwanza.
To our ears, this sounded like a man who is refusing to heed to a cease-fire. Instead,he is urging his allies to faka malasha! He doesn’t sound happy that the dialogue debate has taken an unexpected turn towards success. Why do we think so? Because if Mr Mwanza was happy that the two leaders met, his statement would have been one where he is encouraging the UPND to join the PF in toning down on the political attacks in support of what President Lungu and Mr Hichilema are trying to achieve.
But what we are getting from the PF media team is a message of displeasure that President Lungu spared time for a ‘loser’ called Hakainde Hichilema. They want to continue hammering him because that is what puts food on their tables. This is exactly the problem we have in the political arena. They have declared the country a Christian nation; declared a day of prayer and reconciliation, but when the reconciliation takes shape, they trivialize and rubbish it.
It is not only the PF, there are many others in the UPND too who have been left confused with this move. They are disapproving of Mr Hichilema’s decision to accept an invitation from a man whom he doesn’t recognize as duly elected President. They want a tense hostile environment to persist so that they can have reason for attacking President Lungu and the PF leadership. In fact, some of the UPND members feel losing an election under a violent atmosphere gives their rigging claims some credence, so they are not happy that there might be a twist of fate.
Yes, President Lungu and Mr Hichilema have surprised everybody, including ourselves who thought the two leaders were too arrogant to tolerate one another. Moving from that narrative to calling each other brothers is a huge leap. So we understand the speculations that this development has fueled ahead of the Constitutional Court ruling on President Edgar Lungu’s 2021 eligibility next month.
But our plea is that both the PF and UPND members, especially the youths, must shut up and watch what their leaders are trying to do. There are so many issues which the UPND can raise against the Patriotic Front as it upholds its mandate of providing checks and balances to the government. But it must not be personalized attacks targeted at angering President Lungu. In the same vein, the PF is free to disagree with the opposition UPND on principle, but this must not be done in a manner that invites war or terror on the opposition party.
Mr Antonio Mwanza is in order to hammer Mr Hichilema if he is convinced that the man is a certified liar who deserves hammering. But we would also like to remind the PF deputy media director that Mr Hichilema is not the only liar in town. If his hammering is really meant to pound people who spread misinformation, let him also hammer his boss Mr Sunday Chanda who misled the whole country in September last year by alleging that the UPND had planted bombs at Intercity Bus Terminus in Lusaka.