President Edgar Lungu is being very unfair to the Patriotic Front. Very unfair! We say this because it has become very clear (even to him) by now that his participation in the 2021 general elections will invite a significant reduction in his party’s chances of retaining power. This President is not a novice politician, he has been around long enough to know when there is general dissent for the country’s leadership. Elders know when they go to visit a patient whether there is hope for recovery or a dark cloud is looming. They are able to tell, and even though they can’t say it, they prepare the family for the imminent sad news.
We are surprised that this particular President doesn’t seem to see his end in office. Despite all the signs, he is not willing to prepare his family. He is hearing the booing, but his solution is that police must tame the public with arrests. He can see his paid disgruntled supporters being overpowered in the supposed PF Copperbelt strongholds, but his solution is that protesting residents must be disciplined. Where any normal person would see resentment and disapproval, our President Lungu is seeing a fresh opportunity to continue in office. Is that normal? Where is he drawing all that confidence from?
Why is President Lungu doing this to his party? This is high level selfishness. A leader who says “it has to be me, whether we win or lose” is a very bad leader and needs to be condemned. Of course, a few bootlicking members of the ruling party believe that this man is the best candidate they can field to win the next general election. But we know that there are also a few level headed people in the Patriotic Front who, unfortunately they cannot speak out, know that this will be the most difficult candidate to sell even if they force his face on the ballot against the eligibility clause.
There are strong grounds why President Lungu should feel ashamed about standing again in 2021, even if the law permitted him. First, he knows that he has not performed to people’s desire and expectations. The depreciating kwacha, inflation, the debt mountain, the high cost of basic goods, unprecedented corruption, breakdown of rule of law and shrinking democratic space, among other indicators, can all attest to the fact that this President has failed. They lied about lower taxes, they lied about more money in people’s pockets, and they continue to lie about job creation. What reason does he have for wanting to continue in office?
Second, like we have repeatedly said in the past, this man told the whole nation that he was only going to be a transition President from January 2015 to August 2016. That’s what he said when he was first elected into office, as he announced his Cabinet at State House. He said “I am just a transition leader and I am not here to stay. I have never had an ambition to be President and this is not my calling. But as a country, we need to see a proper peaceful election process, so I am here to transition you to the next election so that you can decide now whom you want to lead you.” Where has the ambition to rule Zambia forever come from? What happened to the transition presidency?
So, like we said before, President Lungu needs to be grateful. An entire five-year full term is something that Michael Sata never had, Rupiah Banda never had. This transition President is very lucky that by the time we will be getting to the 2021 elections, he will have ruled for almost seven years already. Is he saying there is not a single reasonable person who can carry on the mantle in PF next year? This is selfishness of a dangerous level.
But the reason why we are bothered about this selfishness is because President Lungu’s third attempt at power is not just a PF problem. This man has now become a liability to all of us as citizens of this country. Zambia needs to get back its high standards in politics. President Lungu has lowered the bar for political leadership to such a heartbreaking level that there is no standard anymore. We can’t have government leaders, ministers and lawmakers threatening to break the bones of citizens who hold divergent views. Are we such an orphaned country that we will allow such shallow minded fools to continue leading us into a ditch?
For giving us low caliber ministers who are making Zambia look like a banana republic, President Lungu has become a liability to all of us. For landing us in this debt crisis, President Lungu has become a liability to all of us. For unleashing the police to arrest anyone who questions his bad governance, President Lungu has become a liability to us all. For institutionalising corruption and glorifying thieves around him who have looted the Treasury, President Lungu has become a liability to all of us.
If he doesn’t want anyone else in the Patriotic Front to contest the elections next year, that’s his personal problem and that of his party. But the rest of Zambia must say no to any further mediocrity in government leadership. We have said before that we don’t hate President Lungu as an individual but he is the worst liability that we have as a country. He has caused enough pain.