MR Edgar Lungu is now behind us. Zambia has moved on. Even the few people who used to follow him on social media are slowly beginning to find more progressive things to do. Since he peacefully surrendered the responsibility of running the affairs of this country after being rejected by the Zambian people, we must let him settle in his retirement quietly. We shouldn’t be talking about him.
But there is a problem with the manner in which Mr Lungu wishes to settle in his retirement which is prompting us to bring him back into the spotlight. Actually, there are two problems; one, is the fact that even after leaving State House, the man wants to continue ripping off the poor Zambian taxpayers. The second problem is that Mr Lungu seems to be quite gifted with lies and deception.
We are surprised that President Edgar Lungu is staying in a house rented by the government when he told this whole country that immediately after leaving State House, he would go and live in his own house. When he was handing over a retirement house built for former president Rupiah Banda, this man told us that he would abolish the constitutional requirement for building houses for former Heads of State. He said he had enough money to build his own house.
LUNGU on Nov 22, 2018: “I wish to reiterate my earlier pronouncement that government will not build me a retirement house even though it is a constitutional requirement. I have my own money and I can build my own house. And going forward, we will scrap this law because I have seen that equity does not seem to be applied when we are dealing with retired leaders. So going forward, this law, unfortunately will be scrapped, we want to find a much more equitable retirement package for all those who have been serving the public. When I became President in 2015 I said so and somebody said, ‘no, you are not entitled to a house because you have only served one year six months, you are not eligible because that’s not a term’. When the matter came again, they said ‘you have served one term already, so you are not going to come back again in 2021’, anyway, that’s politics but for housing purposes, I am saying no more houses.”
What can we say about such a person who says the above words, then goes straight from State House into the most expensive property in town at government’s expense? Is that not lies and deception? People who can so casually say things which they don’t mean are so dangerous to society. But that is not the only problem that we have with Mr Lungu on this development. It seems Mr Lungu has a worrisome desire for eating with both hands
The constitutional provision for former presidents’ retirement benefits tells us that the moment Mr Lungu left State House, he became entitled to an office, security guards, three government cars with free fuel and drivers paid by the State, an administrative assistant, three house employees, a furnished house, built or bought by the State, medical treatment, and a tax-free monthly pension at the rate of 80 per cent of the incumbent’s pay.
For any other person, the above benefits would be more than enough to enjoy life forever. But Mr Lungu goes to violate the only key condition that qualifies him to draw these benefits. Our Constitution categorically says a former Head of State who continues to engage in active politics cannot get any retirement benefit. Mr Lungu is refusing to let go of the Patriotic Front presidency and he is busy appointing party officials, but he goes on to rent one of the most expensive properties in the whole country, at government’s expense. Is that not greed?
One would even want to ask; what’s left for Mr Lungu in politics really? Where does he think he can take his former ruling party? Does he want to stand again in 2026? What makes him think that Zambians can easily forget the misery he subjected them to and vote him back in power? This is a shame, but anyway, if he really loves politics that much, he must not be allowed to get the benefits of his retirement because in doing so, he will be ripping off the Zambian people. Government must not pay any rent for a leader of an opposition political party. Mr Lungu has an option of retiring and enjoying his benefits or staying in active politics and kissing his retirement house goodbye.