LAST Week, President Edgar Lungu posted his condolence message, expressing grief at the passing of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi. The Head of State listed what he described as significant roles that Nkurunziza played for his country and the African continent, adding that he was scheduled to democratically hand over power to the President-elect of Burundi, General Major Everiste Ndayishimiye. President Lungu ended his condolence message by stating that “on behalf of the government of the Republic of Zambia, the people and myself, I wish to convey sincere and deepest condolences to the government of Burundi and the bereaved family.”
Then came the comments:
“Too bad it’s a wrong country.”
“Some countries are blessed, anyway God will answer our prayers too.”
“Remember him just as government alone, not including the people, there is nothing good to remember about a dictator. Us the people are just waiting on whose [sic] next.”
“The ‘angel’s’ mission had not yet been accomplished.”
“It’s good that the angel is still roaming in Africa. The mission hasn’t been accomplished yet.”
“See what God is doing for other countries.”
“Nkurunzinza was a dictator who manipulated his country’s constitution to run for a third term just like the way [you want] to impose Bill 10 on us.”
State House aides could not handle these seemingly hateful messages from the Zambian citizens; they were forced to delete President Lungu’s condolence message for the late Burundian counterpart. We feel State House aides misunderstood the message from Zambians. It may appear that the citizens who commented on the President’s Facebook posting were wishing our Head of State dead as soon as possible. Indeed, the messages were suggesting so, and they were very hateful, but in our opinion, the people of Zambia were merely expressing their deepest dislike for his governance and continued stay in office.
There is a good reason for this. Like we have stated in our previous editorial opinions, Zambia has gone through some of the most heartbreaking experiences ever. Look at what happened during the gassing incidences! What started as almost nonsensical acts of criminality in Chingola spiraled into a national crisis that is not common in Zambia. What came to be known as gassing crimes covered a huge chunk of the country. And those reckless acts of criminal vandalism and terror soon changed the behaviour of our usually civil, peace-loving and law abiding citizens into angry mobs that we could not recognise.
We have stated previously that Zambia has never before had the callous instant justice mobs burning fellow citizens on mere suspicion of crime. This is something that should make every Zambian, especially the President, to wonder. This is not who we are. We have our differences, but we are not blood-thirsty, we have never been! Zambians hate the sight of blood. There is nothing we value more than the life of a fellow human being. This is why when someone dies, communities normally join in collective grief, even the deceased person’s enemies turn up to mourn and wish they had made up before that person died. This is how we are! This is who we are! This is nothing to be ashamed of. Zambians are good people.
President Lungu and his handlers must therefore not get the wrong message from the reaction to the Facebook posting on Nkurunziza’s death. No one is wishing the Head of State dead. What the people want is for the President to leave office in August, 2021 so that someone else can lead the country. That is all they are asking for. Unfortunately, this is the wish within the Patriotic Front too. It’s just that members are afraid to speak their minds, but the truth is that they do not want this particular President to stay in office up to 2026.
What is causing people to wish President Lungu gone is the very fact that he is imposing himself on the citizens. They have rejected his third term bid, together with its Bill 10, but the Head of State insists that he is standing again in 2021. This is why people are reminding President Lungu that the President of Burundi manipulated the Constitution, using similar amendments like the Bill 10, to stay in power longer than necessary.
We don’t think that there is anyone who would take to the streets to celebrate the demise of President Lungu, no matter how deep the dissent for his governance may be. But we can bet him that if he steps down today, or declares that he will not stand in 2021, there would be jubilations in most parts of the country. People are tired of his leadership. There have been way too many scandals under his reign and his image has been damaged.
What shocks us is that despite all these sentiments, the man insists that he wants to rule the people who do not want him anymore. How can you govern by deleting disapproval messages from the citizens? Is that even sustainable? What will happen when citizens start booing your motorcade and carrying mock coffins? Will you shoot them?
Get the message President Lungu, people don’t wish you dead. They just want you out of office at the earliest possible time. They want you to leave honourably. A wise actor knows that it is good to leave the stage while people are still clapping. On you, President Lungu, people stopped clapping a long time ago, they are now pelting objects at you. Just leave and retain some dignity!