On Friday evening, Mr Sean Tembo, the Opposition Alliance spokesperson wrote a very strong analysis of President Edgar Lungu’s address made to Parliament earlier that day. Mr Tembo, who is also Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader, described President Lungu as a shameless leader who has no moral right to preach national values and principles to citizens when he had failed to discipline his State House advisors who are known for insulting people.

Unfortunately, we cannot reproduce the exact content that Mr Tembo published on his Facebook page because we feel a dictatorship such as the Patriotic Front should not be dared in the manner that this opposition leader was attempting to do in his submission that the Head of State is mentally sick. Instead, we will restrict ourselves to his condemnation of the moral decay around the President.

Ironically though, a day before President Lungu’s address to Parliament, Mr Tembo was involved in a brawl with PF media director Sunday Chanda, which resulted in his expulsion from the “Dynamic Analysis Zambia” WhatsApp group for using insulting language. After a protracted bitter exchange of words, Mr Tembo said to Mr Chanda “pol* yako ikulu ku left”. To this message, members of the group reacted with disgust and demanded that he must be expelled – and the group administrator removed him.

This came as a heartbreak to us because we have always considered Mr Tembo a very intelligent and wise, young politician. We have always felt that his articulation of issues is very clear to anyone who has time to read, and in our view, we did not see why it would be wrong for someone like the PeP president serving in government. But we were disappointed that evening.

We are now not sure whether this is the true character that Mr Tembo has been hiding from the public or he was perhaps under the influence of intoxication? Or could it be that he is dealing with drastic habit changes, mood swings and impulsive decision-making; which are all signs of a midlife crisis? Whatever the case, this is a red light for good leadership. A wise leader doesn’t lose his mind when provoked; a good leader doesn’t insult back when insulted. Mr Tembo is showing dangerous characteristics for a ‘doctor’ who can heal our country.

At a time when Zambians are being called to critically examine public office seekers who would like to replace the Patriotic Front, someone in Mr Sean Tembo’s position cannot afford to use such language on a public forum and get away with it. If Mr Tembo has any self-respect, why would he volunteer to lose it over a small political debate?

Everyone makes mistakes. We all fall short in our deeds. But it is what we say and do in realization of the mistakes that makes a difference. If Mr Tembo feels he cannot apologise to Mr Chanda because the PF official also trades in insults, then he must apologise to the Zambian people who have been holding him in high esteem. If apologizing to the public is too costly for him, at least let him apologise to his own children who obviously have access to social media and can see the distasteful language from their father.

If he feels he owes no one an apology, then we will ask Zambians to introspect on such arrogance from someone who hasn’t even been given State power yet. What more when they take charge of the instruments of power; when they become the commander-in-chief of the State apparatus?

Mr Tembo needs to prove that he is different from those who are governing us today. If the PeP president, himself, will refuse to apologise, we will conclude that he has no shame and he indeed belongs to the same manyozo forwarding party which Zambians desire to kick out.

We are saying this because if we are to take the Opposition Alliance as a government in waiting, Mr Tembo’s current position lands him the responsibility of being a shadow Cabinet Minister of Information. If he cannot withdraw his insults, it is only right that he steps down from his position as spokesperson of the pact. After all, that is what he demands from those who disgrace themselves in the Patriotic Front government.

We also wish to remind our fellow citizens to wake up and be alive to characters such as Mr Tembo. Changing government leadership is one thing, changing the status quo of society is a totally different matter. It is possible to change government by electing people who have the exact values as those have been voted out. Zambians must be very cautious to avoid that. Electing new leaders who have the same mentality is only good to the new office bearers who gain access to State coffers, but it leaves no benefits to the electorate and general population.

Zambia is at a stage where citizens cannot afford to make the same mistake again. It is critically important for everyone who will be eligible to exercise their civic duty in 2021 to study the behavior pattern of those who are promising to restore sanity in the country. We need to follow their debates and determine whether they are being sincere or they are here to play games with our lives.

People like Mr Sean Tembo need to be called out before they get too powerful. It is annoying to see the hypocrisy in his tongue, where he can be condemning the same things that he does. What better leadership can such a man bring to this country if he can see nothing wrong in naming his own organs to disparage his fellow man? A Tembo chinjani, lekani nzelu zikulile pamozi na ndevu.