5th September, 2016
Mr. Edgar Lungu
Dear President Lungu, I write this letter to you as a predictive statement. My intention is to persuade you to do whatever you can to change the expected end of the path you have chosen. As of today, you still have the ability to do the right thing which shall preserve your legacy. I am grateful for those who are making effort to appeal to your conscience to do the right thing. The bible says “In a multitude of counsel, there is safety.”
Several years ago, I wrote a similar letter to late President Mwanawasa when the nation’s democracy and adherence to Christian values were threatened. Later, I wrote a similar letter to late President Michael Sata, when it became clear that democracy and Christian values were again threatened under his leadership. In both the letters, I predicted what the end of such a path would look like. When I look back today, I am amazed at how my predictions were fulfilled in both presidencies.
Today, I sense the same spirit of urgency to write this note to you, and pray that you review its contents and decide how you use the information.
The country stands at a crossroads needing a moral and firm leadership to steer the nation on a path to genuine love, unity, and respect for the rule of law.
GOVERNANCE AND CONSTITUTIONALISM
On January 5th 2016, a new amended constitution was enacted under your signature. In that document you activated several electoral rules, including the birth of a Constitutional Court. You further appointed all the Judges of that court. The current constitutional status is therefore your creation. It must be noted that before signing the amended Constitution you made an alarming statement that you were going to sign this important document ‘with your eyes closed.’ Many voices expressed concern as they felt that the contents of the Constitution were too important to approach so casually. Perhaps what we are witnessing today is as a result of carrying out your threat.
It is against this background that we urge you to honor and respect your own creation. Arising from the just ended election, the ECZ gave you more votes than Hakainde Hichilema and declared you winner. Based on many irregularities in the vote counting, Hakainde Hichilema petitioned your election on Friday 19th August 2016. According to the constitution you signed, two cardinal things were supposed to happen automatically:
- Suspend the inauguration of the president elect. 105(2)(a)
- The Speaker of the National Assembly was to take over Executive Powers. 104(3)
We congratulate you for obeying the first regulation of not being inaugurated. We however are deeply disappointed that you have refused to step down from your position to give way to the speaker to act as President.
Mr. President, you cannot pick and choose what you wish to respect from the Constitution.
Respecting one part of the law and disrespecting the other half is like religiously keeping five of the Ten Commandments and reject the other five. According to scriptures, you have then broken all ten. Mr. President you are in serious breach of the constitution. The spirit in which the constitution was couched was to ensure that both the petitioned and the petitioner were on a level playing field and not have a situation where one had undue privilege and advantage over the other through having executive powers and security wings at his disposal while the case was being adjudicated. I am familiar with this intention along with many other constitutional commissioners who participated in the drafting of this constitution. The concept of the first draft was discussed in my office in 2003 when I served as Vice-President with the late Justice Minister George Kunda. The late President Mwanawasa assigned me to work with Mr. Kunda to prepare the parameters of the proposed Constitutional Commission. The intention for requiring the President to step aside was widely debated at length and many strong reasons advanced. Similarly, the fourteen day period within which to hear the petition was only a straight jacket provision in as far as when the hearing must start. Justice cannot be truncated in order to satisfy a technicality.
It is more honorable for you to obey the constitution you yourself brought into force rather than have a court ask you to step aside. The unfortunate physical removal of former President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast has left a shameful blight on Africa. If you truly won this election, you have no need to fear as the court will vindicate you. Your continued stay in office is eroding public confidence in you. Options exist for you to relocate to some other place such as State Lodge while this process is concluded.
Furthermore, the nation is appalled and alarmed by the conduct of some of your party officials who believe that all institutions of government must always favor the party in government. The continued threats against the Constitutional Court judges by your party may forever undermine the authority and integrity of our court system as it is setting an extremely dangerous and irresponsible precedence. The alleged ferrying of busloads of PF cadres and some by ZAF choppers to camp at the Constitutional Court grounds is most disturbing as is the alleged reporting of the ConCourt judges to Woodlands police.
You more than anyone, as a learned Lawyer, should understand the serious implication of these actions which only complicate your situation further and must be stopped. ConCourt lawyers enjoy immunity and must not be interfered with and I make an earnest appeal to you to step in immediately and direct your party members not to interfere in any way with the independence of the courts. They are a separate and independent wing of government. They have a job to do just like the Executive and Legislature have jobs to do as well. Any continued assault on judges by your cadres will be considered provocative in this hostile political environment.
MEDIA AND FREEDOMS
Our national history confirms that all past presidents since independence have abused both the public print and electronic media by using them as exclusive propaganda machines for the party in government. This is retrogressive and the habit has retarded the growth of our democratic culture. Sadly, your presidency has taken this abuse to a higher level. PF is not only abusing the public media, but you have gone further to kill the voice of any opposition by closing down independent media. This has left your opponents with no avenue to express themselves and no means to inform their members nationwide. By this act, you have manufactured a highly dangerous grenade which is bound to be detonated any time soon as fissures of anger will soon seek to find a vent for relief. I advise that you bring back the media freedoms and allow the private media to operate freely alongside the compromised public media as has been the case since 1991.
CHURCH and STATE HOUSE
Mr. President, I commend you for opening your arms to a number of pastors who have now become a permanent feature at State House. I however wish to remind you that this is not the first time pastors have enjoyed feasts and prayers at State House. A Pastor is only useful in God’s hand if he has capacity to encourage a leader and at the same time rebuke him. A pastor must not depend on a President for economic survival. A Pastor must be sober but aggressive against sin and injustice.
In 2001, when the late President Fredrick Chiluba attempted to secure a third term of office the three church mother bodies under the Oasis forum condemned the move. I was part of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia at this time. Unfortunately the ‘famous’ 22 Pentecostal pastors from Copperbelt travelled to Lusaka to ‘prophesy’ to President Chiluba that it was God’s will for him to go for a third term of office. Mr. President, you are aware what the result of that third term attempt was. It is sad to further note that when President Chiluba died with very few friends around him, most of the twenty two pastors who misled him did not even attend his funeral. I must confess that a good number of the Pastors frequenting State House now are products of Victory Bible college, some were ordained in our ministry while others received Christ or were inspired into the church ministry through our Zambia shall be Saved television broadcast. Some of them are part of the same group which chose to mislead the late President Chiluba. I wish to respectfully warn you as I had warned the late President Chiluba. Seek counsel from your church and your pastor or priest which must agree with your spirit because wrong counsel will damage your legacy.
Mr. President, the current path you have chosen of disobeying the constitution, stifling the freedoms of the media, and surrounding yourself with ‘praise singer’ pastors will soon disarm you of your hard earned respect. My fear is that on the path you have taken, the Presidency will injure you more than it has honored you.
Nevers Sekwila Mumba