President Edgar Lungu has told the victor in the recently-held Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) elections, President-elect Félix Tshisekedi, to consider forming a Government of National Unity (GNU), on grounds that there are objections to the poll results announced by the electoral commission of that country.
“Given the strong objections to the provisional results of the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on all political leaders to consider a negotiated political settlement for a Government of National Unity,” President Lungu said, in his capacity as chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, Defence and Security.
“SADC draws the attention of the Congolese politicians to similar arrangements that were very successful in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya where governments of national unity created the necessary stability for durable peace. SADC, therefore, encourages all parties to enter into an apolitical process towards a government of national unity in order to enhance public confidence, build bridges and reinforce democratic institutions of government and electoral process for a better Congo.”
Our President threw his weight behind the statement from the Congolese Catholic Church, disputing the poll results, saying a recount of votes would erase doubts and inspire public confidence in successive general elections.
“SADC has taken note of the strong doubts cast on the poll outcomes by the Roman Catholic Church in the DRC, which deployed 40,000 monitors, the opposition ‘Lamuka coalition, and the observers and, therefore, feels a recount would provide the necessary re-assurance to both winners and losers.”
President Lungu has exhibited the highest degree of hypocrisy in his stance on the Democratic Republic of Congo. But before we continue with our opinion, we would like to raise our suspicions around the manner in which our government has handled this matter.
To begin with, Zambians must wonder where President Lungu’s physical presence is at the moment. They should ask why he is not appearing on any television station or holding any press conference to announce this international decree or communiqué.
Wherever he might be, we are told that President Lungu’s statement on Congo represents the collective position of all SADC Presidents, yet this SADC ‘communiqué’ is not signed by President Lungu as chairperson of the SADC Peace and Security Organ, but by a civil servant in Zambia called Amos Chanda. Why didn’t President Lungu’s substantive special envoy to the SADC organ who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs communicate this position on a SADC secretariat letterhead?
We ask this because, as ignorant as we may be on diplomatic affairs, one thing we know for sure is that it is easy for anyone to assume that the call for a Government of National Unity in Congo DR, communicated on our State House letterhead, represents the interests of President Edgar Lungu and his Cabinet not the SADC Heads of States. But we will leave this argument for veteran diplomat Vernon Johnson Mwaanga to give his professional opinion.
Instead, we would like to focus on the hypocrisy of President Lungu on a call for a coalition government in Congo. According to the officially announced election results, President-elect Tshisekedi got over 7 million votes followed by a fellow opposition rival Martin Fayulu who polled about 6.4 million, trailed by the ruling party candidate Emmanuel Shadary who has a nearly two million votes deficit. This is not a narrow victory for the winner.
How can our President call for a Government of National Unity before the petitioners go to court to present their evidence of a rigged election? Where is President Lungu rushing to? Suppose the courts of law in Congo declare that, in fact, Tshisekedi was duly-elected and is not guilty of electoral malpractice, where will that leave the Zambian position announced by the State House Press Aide to Mr Lungu?
The Zambian people still remember that in 2016, President Lungu narrowly passed the 50% plus 1 vote threshold, and only beat his closest rival by about 13,000 votes. The election results were strongly objected and evidence of malpractice was in public domain. The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia was at one point seen on television announcing constituency results that showed the ruling party winning by more than the number of total votes counted.
Unconvinced that they had lost the election to the PF, UPND filed a petition in court and called for intervention from the same SADC and the African Union – among other bodies – highlighting how President Lungu had abrogated the Republican Constitution during the elections. It is this same President Lungu who issued a very strong warning for SADC and all international bodies to stay away from Zambia’s sovereign affairs. What has changed today for President Lungu to make such a premature intervention in the Congo election situation? Why is he in a hurry to disregard the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Our suspicion is that President Lungu and the Patriotic Front regime has an interest in one of the losing candidates of the Congo elections. They would have loved him to win the elections so that they can do government-supported private deals with Congo. That is why they want this candidate to be part of a coalition government, which would still give them room to transact.
President Lungu is not a proponent of coalition governments. He has on several occasions, here in Zambia, told us about how he would never sit with Mr Hakainde Hichilema because, according to him, the opposition leader would negotiate a Government of National Unity.
“Why should I meet the opposition now? What are we going to talk about? We are in charge because we won 50 plus, and they lost, that’s what the Constitution says. There is no room for negotiations now. Power belongs to us! I appeal to the Church to bring their issue, but don’t force us to be compelled to form a Government of National Unity. Winner takes all,” said President Lungu at State House on July 6, 2017. We have a verbatim of his “no negotiations” remarks on the following link: https://diggers.news/local/2017/07/06/verbatim-of-lungus-press-conference/
As can be seen above, President Lungu is a shameless hypocrite and Zambians must know him for what he is. He stands a moral high ground on issues that don’t involve him, but he fails to practice what he preaches. President Lungu has no moral right to propose a Government of National Unity for Congo. He is evidently selfish, and his greed has left Zambia bleeding!