Different versions of stories have been told about how President Edgar Lungu has mortgaged his Presidency to those who helped him become Head of State. Those who walk the corridors of power say Mr Lungu is a rubber stamp President who has little say on how the country should be governed. They say the real presidents who call the shots are individuals whom Zambians did not vote for.

We are told that there are criminal elements who hide in President Lungu’s thin shadow during the day, but come out under the cover of night when citizens are asleep, to cause various atrocities. They have hijacked the Executive; and are using Mr Lungu’s name, they win government tenders, control state institutions and settle scores with perceived enemies in the civil service.

We are not being malicious by making this observation; indeed, anyone who has eyes can see what we are seeing and those with ears have heard what we are talking about. It is no longer a secret that we are being governed by more than one President.

In this country so far, we have seen State House advisors don presidential powers and speak like they are the President; we have seen lawyers from private law firms execute criminal operations in the name of Mr Lungu; we have seen business houses that hold their own ‘Cabinet meetings’ and make decisions on behalf of the Head of State. These are the real presidents who are controlling the political, economic and social lifecycle of our country.

Unfortunately, President Lungu has failed to defeat this narrative! He has failed to convince those who voted for him that he is a man of his own. What is worse is that this doesn’t seem to bother our Head of State at all. It appears this public perception makes him proud that he is a generous man who is not stingy with presidential powers.

We feel pity for President Lungu because he doesn’t realize how this is hurting Zambians. There is no country on earth where citizens can be happy to have a figurehead for a leader. A President who can’t stand his ground and weed out bad elements within his inner circle doesn’t deserve to stay in power, because that is tantamount to fraud and betrayal.

Keeping such a president in power is dangerous because he does not act in the interest of citizens, but the bourgeoisie who own the majority of the country’s wealth. It is hard for such a leader to see the people’s sufferings because he wines and dines with the elites who are glued to his throne like leeches on a fisherman’s skin. Such a leader becomes a puppet of the rich, and ignores the cries of the poor.

Sadly, when the impossible happens and the long forgotten population takes away its people-power, criminal elements turn against their ‘puppet’. Because they are parasitical in nature, they stay far away from a crumbling regime, while pursuing fresh opportunities in the new government. Those who usurp power through State capture are never there to answer at the time of reckoning.

This is what we see happening to President Lungu. When the people of Zambia rise to say ‘enough is enough’, there will be no one standing with him in his downfall. The criminal elements who are renting his presidential power will run away; State House aides will turn into State witnesses and the bourgeoisies will not waste their money defending a profitless ‘former president.’

Time is now for Mr Lungu to realize that Zambians voted for only one President and that president will be answerable for everything that is done in his name. Citizens will not accept any excuse from Mr Lungu because they gave him the five-year ‘intellectual property rights’ to the Republican Presidency, and no one else is allowed to use his name without his authority. The President will not be allowed to point at anyone else because everything is happening under his leadership.

The unprecedented levels of corruption are a reflection of a Lungu Presidency; the violence and breakdown of rule of law portray a Lungu Presidency; the fall of democracy manifests a Lungu Presidency; and the economic downturn all speak of a Lungu leadership. None of this can be attributed to those who are renting Presidential powers; it is President Lungu’s fault because he is the one who was elected into State House.

Our message to the President is that he must open his eyes and see what others before him learnt the hard way. Those who are on his right and left don’t love Edgar Lungu, they simply love his power. If the President wants to test their love for him, let him suggest to them that he wants to step down; he will see how angry they will be with him! None of those who surround President Lungu can allow him to resign because his power is their power, and it is too sweet to let go.

These bad elements pretend to be best friends with the Head of State, drinking what he drinks and eating what he eats. But without his presidential power, Edgar Lungu is not their friend; they have nothing in common. In fact, he is not their class, so they cannot drink together if he left State House. After they are done using his presidential powers, and regime change comes knocking, they will dump Mr Lungu, leaving him toiling in court with unexplained wealth.

If President Lungu wants to have a peaceful retirement, he must evaluate each and every friendship inside and outside State House. Let him interrogate the motive behind his ‘friends’ who want him to commission illicit government transactions. Mr Lungu may have succeeded to become President without a vision, but he will not survive his retirement without a plan. We rest our case!