President Edgar Lungu has gone on his annual leave. According to State House, the Head of State will be on a four-day retreat in Eastern Province (probably at his favourite game ranch in Nyimba, where he shall have no disturbances). The President is entitled to rest. During the festive period while other citizens were on holiday, we saw the Head of State touring the country and officiating at national events. No one should question President Lungu’s right to rest.
But this rest comes at a time when Zambia is at a crossroads. The economy is at the verge of collapsing – for those who can’t see that it has collapsed already. Government institutions are not being funded and workers are not getting paid on time. The cost of living is skyrocketing because people can no longer afford basic needs.
This is the time that President Lungu has picked for his annual leave. We remember that immediately after he was elected into office in 2015, he took leave and went to the same place he is today, to reflect and strategize on his appointments. It was from there that he returned with a list of ministers and government appointees who have brought Zambia where it is today.
So, how should President Lungu spend his annual leave? Well, he is free to party and drink, if his throat has failed to maintain the discipline. But our plea is that he must reflect on the state of Zambia’s economy and where he has gone wrong. His mind should not be preoccupied with his 2021 presidential bid, instead he must focus on finding solutions to the problems that he has caused for the people he promised to deliver.
We are saying this because we understand the challenges that our Head of State is faced with. Considering that President Lungu is an imposed leader rather than a born leader, he has spent a lot of time trying to portray himself as a saint and using that to demand more time in power.
Like we have stated before, imposed leaders spend their time in power trying to find ways and means of acquiring more authority. They are never satisfied with the power they have, and even after acquiring more, they still want more and more.
Such leaders try hard to force people to respect them and they believe so much in their own propaganda to the extent that they don’t accept any form of criticism as constructive. These authoritarian leaders prefer to be feared than to be loved because they believe that fear lasts longer than love. It is this fear that they use to build totalitarianism; a system which eventually keeps them in power for as long as they breathe.
But born leaders believe differently. They never worry about gaining more power. They use the little authority they have to leave an impactful legacy. These leaders don’t shoot down opposition views; they regard critics as partners in development. They don’t fight to stay in power forever. Instead, they plan their exit way ahead of time and prepare the next generation to take over. These are the people who make great leaders, and President Lungu should aspire to be one.
While on his Annual retreat, President Lungu should think deeply about what the people of Zambia will remember him for. He should worry about his legacy, not his wealth. He must remember that a good legacy lives longer than a good fortune. Yes, President Lungu inherited a lot of problems, but great leaders never mind what situation they are born in, they always shine. In fact, the worse the situation, the greater their impact.
The problem with President Lungu is that he doesn’t realise his weaknesses. Sometimes we fear that maybe our President doesn’t realise that he is not God. He acts in a manner that brings out an embodiment of a Saint. We have never heard President Lungu admitting that ‘on this and that decision, I made a mistake and I am asking the people of Zambia to forgive me’. Instead, he exemplifies perfection. When our President admits that he has human limitations, he does it to mock his political rivals. We have heard him say “I am also just a human being, so don’t blame me if we have no rains or if it rains too much”.
We have a Head of State who feels, because he is leading a country, he is God’s most beloved child or probably His assistant. This is the divine sense with which President Lungu has been governing our country.
We can go back to June 21, 2017 during the launch of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP), President Lungu said although God was in control, it was him in charge of Zambia.
“Let me emphasise that this morning I was talking to someone and I said ‘look, what is your problem?’ I am in charge of Zambia and God is in control. So just pray for me to do the right thing if what I am doing is wrong. I think your prayer will touch me and I will change but so far so good, I am on the right course and I am in charge,” said President Lungu.
This is where we have a problem. Even when he was asking for prayers to help him see where he was making mistakes, our President was in the same breath telling the nation that he was not doing anything wrong and he was almightily in charge of the country.
Our wish is that, while on this holiday, President Lungu should take time to reflect on the mistakes that he has made since he left that Eastern Province resort in 2015. He has to truly humble himself in prayer and in introspection to realise that corruption in his government has brought Zambia where it is today. What has he done to stop the theft of public resources? These are the issues he must meditate on. If he spends more time worrying about his re-election next year, he will make the situation worse than it is already.