President Emmerson Mnangagwa was a national hero when he led troops to overthrow Robert Mugabe who had been at the helm of Zimbabwe for nearly four decades. But this man was no stranger to the Zimbabwean voters. He ruled the former Southern Rhodesia alongside Mugabe and agreed to literally everything that old Bob did. He supported every single decision imposed on the people of Zimbabwe, until it became clear that he was not Mugabe’s preferred candidate to take over the reigns of power.

That is the moment that Mr Mnangagwa became a ‘good man’. Suddenly, he saw the problems that the citizens of that country were facing and the economic doldrum that Zimbabwe had been in for years. Suddenly, his ears opened and he was there promising the citizens to “fix it” if they gave him a fresh mandate to rule.

Historians will tell you that under Mugabe’s rule, Mnangagwa and his soldiers were among the best-remunerated government officials, but their loyalty was not with their paymaster, and neither was it with the poor people of Zimbabwe. Strangely, the citizens never realised all this. They never saw it coming until when they have already given a fresh dosage of venom to the new dragon that is now breathing fire over the captured territory.

We wrote and warned the people of Zimbabwe through our editorial opinion published in November 2017, to be wary of their ‘saviour’. It was this man who had succeeded to suppress a revolution under Mugabe’s detested rule. This is the man who, as a matter of fact, was calling the shots in the defence forces, and that is why it was easy for him to mobilise troops to rise against the hated President. As they rallied behind Mnangagwa in 2017, the people of Zimbabwe had no idea what his true intentions were, in fact they didn’t even care whether he was a better replacement to put in State House, all they wanted was a Zimbabwe without Mugabe.

But President Mnangagwa has already forgotten the list of problems that Zimbabweans wanted him to fix. In fact, he hasn’t forgotten those problems, he never even heard them in the first place. President Mnangagwa did not see anything wrong with how Zimbabweans were being governed, he had a problem with who was governing Zimbabwe. That is why the most significant change he has brought to the leadership of that country is the scarf around his neck.

But we cannot blame the people of Zimbabwe, they say when you haven’t tasted an orange before, a lemon feels like the real deal. The majority of Zimbabweans who wanted Mugabe out and Mnangagwa in, had never known any other leader before. To them, anything other than Mugabe was better! Well, they enjoyed their little moment and it is now time to dance as they learn from their mistakes.

Unlike Zimbabweans, Zambians have about the most voting experience in Africa. In the past 12 years, we have gone to the polls to choose a President five times. We have voted for bad Presidents before and we have been governed by the worst. Having tested both lemon and orange, we now know when presidential candidates are pretending to respect press freedom and we know when they are making false promises to the unemployed youths. Because of this voting experience that we possess, it will be twice more foolish if we Zambians make the mistake that Zimbabweans made to vote for change without paying attention to the change they were voting for.

In saying this, we are not suggesting that Zambians must let the Patriotic Front continue to govern because changing would be risky. Our point is that if the people want to change government, they must not VOTE OUT those in power, but VOTE IN those who deserve to be in power. The danger of VOTING OUT bad leaders is that you don’t care what you are replace them with, while VOTING IN good leaders means voting for progress. It means carefully interrogating the options and selecting the best without being influenced by the blind wind of change.

It is always very easy for those seeking to take over the leadership of a country to convince a gullible citizenry that once they assume power, all the bad governance practices will be fixed together with the economy. Before they form government, they are the darlings of the people – paying attention to every little public complaint and addressing it at their weekly press briefing. When they get hold of power, the first changes they implement are their diets and phone numbers.

We still have more than two years before the next general election. Our call to the people of Zambia is to watch critically what those who want to form government are offering. Read the reasons why they want your vote, published daily in the News Diggers print edition. Analyse who is lying and who is making sense. Once you vote for them in 2021 and they put the price of fuel at K40 per litter, like President Mnangagwa has done in Zimbabwe, there will be nothing you will do about it.

Just like President Mnangagwa, Many of our political leaders don’t genuinely see anything wrong with how Zambians are being governed, their real issue is who is governing Zambia. These are lemons which must not be experimented with any more.