We do not know of any time in the history of Zambia when the President’s spokesperson resigned. We also don’t know of any time in the tenure of President Edgar Lungu when a State House official was fired for being involved in corruption. It is therefore clear that Mr Amos Chanda’s resignation was most likely a dismissal, but that dismissal could not be announced by the Head of State because what transpired seems to implicate him too.
Being involved in corruption or any wrongdoing has never been a cause for anyone to be fired by President Edgar Lungu. So this resignation is not on moral grounds. But we will not speculate on the circumstances that have forced Mr Chanda out until the listening walls spill the beans to the public. What we can do now is look back and find out who stands to lose from this development.
It was on January 26, 2015 when Mr Chanda took that oath, swearing that he would bear true allegiance to the President in helping him protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of Zambia. But as the years went by, it became clearer and clearer that the job he had taken up at State House required doing more than just that. It dawned on him that the responsibility on his hands was actually about protecting his boss from being harmed by the Constitution.
Like Squealer in Animal Farm, Mr Chanda assumed the position of Minister of Propaganda in President Edgar Lungu’s inner circle. Everything that President Lungu did was painted right, no matter how wrong it was. If the President breached the Constitution, Mr Chanda found the silver lining in the President’s transgressions and took to television to defend his actions. “Lungu is always right” was the motto.
In the process of defending, Mr Chanda had to abandon his true character. We heard him insult political opponents of President Lungu in a manner no one has heard him do before. He created enemies in the civil society, in the media, within the Patriotic Front and among civil servants. He took the beating on behalf of the President, sacrificing his sobriety and accepting to sound stupid for the sake of his boss.
Like Rueben Lifuka put it. This was a “Kafwanayo” type of Presidential spokesperson. He was willing to die for his boss; if it meant lying, he went ahead to lie in order to make President Lungu look reasonable to the public. This is the last person in State House whom anyone would expect to part ways with the President in this manner. He was in too deep and he did it all for the President.
Mr Chanda is not perfect, and we will be lying to our readers if we portray him as the best Press Aide to have ever worked at State House. He was not even close. He made many mistakes, some of which, we believe, forced him out of his job. He wronged many people in the line of his duty, some of whom are yet to forgive him.
But what we are saying is that for this particular President, Mr Chanda was the best pick as spokesperson because President Lungu is a very extraordinary human being. He is not like the other Presidents who have governed this country. He has his own unconventional ways of doing things; things which sometimes made him appear childish, foolish and incompetent. But luckily for him, Mr Chanda was always on hand to save his face. When President Lungu weaved his way out of all the numerous scandals, his Squealer was on hand to clean the mess behind him.
Our opinion is that Zambians have lost nothing in the resignation of Mr Chanda, but President Lungu has lost everything. He may have done the right thing in letting Mr Chanda go, but there is also no doubt that in so doing, he undressed himself. Unless a replacement who is equal to the task is found, we expect to see and hear worse from our scandalous President. It will be like a schizophrenic patient who has dropped medication.
Let’s not even beat about the bush here. Without the roles that Amos Chanda, Kaizer Zulu, Emmanuel Chilubanama and a few others played in installing him after the 2016 general elections, President Lungu would not be President of Zambia today. So we mean every word when we say it is Mr Lungu who stands to lose in the so-called resignation of Mr Chanda, not the people of Zambia.
To Mr Chanda, our advice is that he must prepare for the worst but hope for the best. It may actually be God’s desire and in Mr Chanda’s interest that he is nowhere near the presidency by 2021 when his former boss will be put to another test. If he fails, everyone around the President will be on the run, and there will be little focus on a Press Aide who ‘resigned’ two years ago.
Welcome back to Earth and happy viewing from a distance. Join the rest of your fellow citizens in watching how Zambia looks like from outside State House. You will have plenty of time to reflect on where you could have done better, since you will now be isolated and your phone will soon stop ringing, if it hasn’t already. This is the time when you will know who your true friends are.