There is one advantage that an older person has over a younger person. It is that an older person has been young before. But a young person has never been old before. That advantage that an older person has is what we call experience. Experience should be able to inform an older person’s decision making. It’s easier to forgive a young person who makes a mistake because we can blame it on inexperience. But an older person who makes a mistake that they should not, is very difficult to forgive.
This is the situation that we find ourselves in when we look at Vice-President Inonge Wina. This is a person with a lot of experience. We can safely say she has seen it all. Others would say ‘she has been there, and done that’. Her presence in President Edgar Lungu’s government should have assured us of her sober influence upon the government. But that does not seem to be the case. She seems to have chosen to ride with the flow. This is very unfortunate.
A young person who makes a mistake, may well have time to correct that mistake. But an older person like Madam Inonge Mutukwa Wina may not have the luxury of time to correct her mistakes, if they are mistakes at all. Her time in this government, especially being the first female Vice-President, should have accorded her an opportunity to define her legacy. But at a time when she should have been making her most critical contribution to Zambia’s history, she chose comfort over principle.
Apart from corruption and the massive abuse of power that characterizes this regime in 2018, the desire for a third term is the one issue that is going to define Mr Lungu’s Presidency and the character of those around him. This is an issue that madam Wina ought to have stood strong on. It is a path she knows very well. She has fought this battle before, and therefore, her decision to support President Lungu’s third term bid, is a shameful capitulation.
It is unfortunate that as a people, we don’t seem to document our history very well. It is not the first time that a Zambian President has decided to give himself a third term. President Chiluba tried, but the people stopped him. By people, we are not referring to the international community. It is “bo Ma”, Inonge Wina, who played a very significant role.
When Frederick Chiluba wanted a third term, it was not the political parties that stopped him, it was civil society and many ordinary citizens who stood up and said it could not be done. Today, we have what is called the OASIS Forum, but many people have forgotten or simply don’t know where this came from. The OASIS Forum drew its name from a meeting that was held in a restaurant called Oasis Restaurant near Arcades Shopping Center.
The meeting at Oasis Restaurant brought together the three Church mother bodies, the Law Association of Zambia and NGOCC, which was then headed by a woman who is now Vice-President Inonge Wina. The Oasis meeting culminated in what was called the OASIS Declaration, which resolved to mobilise the public to stop the third term, with Her Honour Mrs Wina at the helm of the agenda.
We are not here to give all the credit to madam Inonge Wina. We know that there were many other well-meaning individuals in the civil society movement that stood behind Mrs Wina. Notable among these were Emmily Sikazwe, Lucy Muyoyeta, Grace Kanyanga, who was at the time Executive Secretary for NGOCC. They stood historically and fought until the third term was defeated.
We say that the OASIS Forum stopped Chiluba’s third term, which is correct, but in fairness, it received a lot of help from Chiluba’s own Cabinet. When it became obvious that Chiluba wanted to go for a third term, his own Cabinet revolted against him. His Republican Vice-President, the late Lt. General Christon Tembo and his party Vice-President Brig. General Godfrey Miyanda refused to endorse this wrongdoing.
It was probably that principled stand, by Lt. General Tembo, Brig. General Miyanda and 19 other MMD MPs and Cabinet colleagues of Chiluba that put a death nail in Chiluba’s project. Chiluba tried to expel these ‘rebels’ from the party and consequently give himself an opportunity to change the complexion of parliament so that he could push ahead with his attempt to amend the Constitution, but the courts with help from the Law Association of Zambia stood in the gap.
Our current Vice-President did not have a front roll seat when this history was unfolding, she was right in the ring, fighting. She supported then Republican vice-president and the MMD vice-president on their stance to stop Chiluba with his agenda. What is different today when Mrs Wina is in that office? Why is she afraid of the consequences of revolting against a President who is committing a wrong?
Many who were very close to Chiluba paid a price for refusing to support him, Edith Nawakwi continued in the political wilderness, probably because of her very strong stance against Chiluba at the time. Chiluba was so angry with her that he unleashed the wrath of State police on her. When she tried to run in the bush, they set the bush on fire to smoke her out. There were others like Mike Mulongoti who were fired very early for being perceived as being against Chiluba’s third term. Ackson Sejani was another. Why is madam Inonge Wina betraying her legacy?
This is not very distant history and it is a shame that Vice-President Wina can turn her back on her country like this. It is unfortunate that she can turn her back on such a great cause of maintaining the rule of law. It is easy to forgive President Lungu because he is younger and we can blame his mistakes on inexperience, but madam Wina has been young before and she doesn’t have the luxury of time.