I am a very proud and patriotic Zambian. In the last election, I voted for Edgar Chagwa Lungu for president with much struggle. This was largely for two reasons.
First, although Hakainde Hichilema and the people around him were the better option by a mile in terms of capacity to manage the economy, I was nervous by his lack of public and robust denunciation of the ‘It is our time to rule’ Tonga sentiment espoused by many in his camp, including such key political figures as Daniel Munkombwe and the Vernon Mwaanga.
Second, was the claim by ECL that he only wanted to complete Sata’s agenda and vision, not start a new one. Sata held a lot of promise for this country for many and had the right humility in his role and towards the citizens. To be sure, ECL’s extremely manipulative and arrogant behaviour en route to his adoption as candidate for PF was very disturbing, especially towards the Acting President Guy Scott. However, the fear of Tonga ethnic and in my view myopic triumphalism proved to be the edge that led me to cast my vote for ECL while trying to convince myself that ECL would grow up and mature once in power.
It has since become very clear that far from maturing, ECL, once he realised he had the instruments of power, began to manifest his true colours and they are not pretty ones at all. He has clearly adopted a path intended to obliterate all that Michael Sata stood for and to side line or eliminate all together Sata’s key lieutenants. He has chosen to establish himself by embracing corrupt elements and several shady characters including those who were facing the law under Sata.
In addition, he clearly has no constructive national vision for this great nation. The most disturbing aspect of all is that he has adopted this agenda with a level of arrogance and lack of concern for the feelings and sentiments of protesting Zambians that suggests he is a lethal despot in the making. He does not see himself as a servant of Zambians (as Sata did) but as their master.
The resources of the state are his to spend as he wishes. The institutions of the state are there to serve his interests and those of PF, not the interests of Zambians. An extra mandate for this president and government will set Zambia so far back that it will require generations of successive prudent and wise leadership just to repair the damage they will inflict upon the nation.
He must be stopped and ejected without fail in the next election for the good of Zambia and future generations. However, to ensure that this happens, the opposition must emulate their colleagues in Kenya when they came together to form a united front aimed at ousting the formidable ‘professor’ of Kenyan politics, President Arap Moi. To guarantee the removal of ECL and PF from power, I propose that the UPND, FDD and Rainbow Party, the three promising parties at the moment, form a coalition with agreed upon quarters. The major task of this coalition government would be to deliver a people-driven constitution and to stabilize the economic fortunes of the nation. After the term of this government, they can break up into their separate parties and compete under a new constitution.
This time round Hakainde Hichilema has won the right, based on his showing in the last election, to be the coalition’s presidential candidate. FDD and Rainbow Party can occupy key roles. This will mirror the coming together of Raila Odinga (western Kenya vote) and Mwai Kibaki (Kikuyu vote), otherwise sworn political enemies, for the purposes of dislodging Moi. They succeeded where many promising parties had failed. Only this coalition will guarantee the removal of ECL and PF from power as the vast majority of Zambians will both vote for it and work tirelessly to ensure that their vote is not stolen. Let not any single party presume that its current growing popularity will lead to a victory in the next general election. If at all anything, under this current first past the post constitution, the growing popularity of UPND, FDD and Rainbow Party are all playing into the hands of a PF victory. They will only need to get a few votes beyond the nearest contender to secure another mandate and that will spell the end of Zambia as we have known it. We cannot allow that to happen. We should not allow that to happen.
Dr M. Nyirenda, Lusaka.