Uninformed and extemporaneous political statements on other countries could generate into tension and result in hostile relations with neighboring countries. The comments and maneuvers from our President, Mr. Edgar Lungu concerning the situation in Zimbabwe, left much to be desired. This could be a consequence of being a ceremonial president without notable political skills or lacking constructive counselors and advisers to help. Nonetheless, it is imperative for the president’s statements to be passing through competent staff and experts in regional and international politics before they are made public. It would have been much better for our dear president to keep quiet on Zimbabwe as his statements on the situation are incoherent and embarrassing to our country. It is unfortunate that our president’s words are more reflective of a man in fear, playing double standards and outrightly preposterous. The President made two statements in 7 days that are problematic.
First, while in Egypt on November 16th, 2017 Lusaka Times reported that: “President Edgar Lungu says the illegal takeover of power in Zimbabwe by the military is not in tune with modern politics.” Apparently, the president believes that what is happening in Zimbabwe is illegal. According to the Oxford Dictionaries: illegal and unlawful have slightly different meanings, although they are often used interchangeably. Something that is illegal is against the law, whereas an unlawful act merely contravenes the rules that apply in a particular context. Accordingly, the President implied that the activities of the armed forces in Zimbabwe were against the law. However, the law referred to in his statement was neither clarified nor specifically identified. This position shows disrespect for the constitution of Zimbabwe and the armed forces of that country.
Modern politics are constitutional politics, and even the armed forces have a role to play as stakeholders. The armed forces and police are not just a flock of a civilian president’s Bulldogs to unleash on political dissent or for persecuting the opposition. They are critical in providing security, efforts of preserving peace, including diffusing tensions that have potential to degenerate into active conflicts. This is very much in tune with post-modern politics in case our president has not caught on. To this effect, it is perhaps not unfathomable that President Lungu owes the people of Zimbabwe an apology for his insensitive words.
Second, it is reported in Lusaka Times on November 22, 2017, that: “President Lungu urges Zimbabweans to follow constitutional provisions during the transition of power.” Not so fast Mr. President. No one should have a license to play double standards. The question is since when did Mr. Lungu have any regard for any written rules in Zambia? Mr. Lungu ascended to power in the PF through a plebiscite with a shameful show of hands in Kabwe with no regard to the party constitution and electoral rules of Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front. Furthermore, both national electoral victories he has claimed in our country have not been convincing. In fact, the last one was a disputed ballot that has not even been resolved to date. The constitution of Zambia provides for the presidential powers to handed to the Speaker where the election has been duly petitioned. The question is, in this transition of power did Mr. Lungu follow the constitution? Alas, on his return from the SADC Troika meeting in Angola he is reported to be calling upon the people of Zimbabwe to follow the constitution in the transition of power. Where does Mr. Lungu get the moral authority for calling on the people of Zimbabwe to follow their constitution? Isn’t it common knowledge that the armed forces of Zimbabwe intervened in a deteriorating power struggle in their country in accordance with their country’s CONSTITUTION? Today Mugabe is out of power without bloodshed, loss of life or collateral damage. Isn’t it Mr. Lungu the man who recently threatened that if the constitutional court judges emulate their counterparts in Kenya and uphold the constitution to prevent him from running for a third-term, that he has been salivating for there will be chaos in Zambia?
November 3rd, 2017 Lusaka Times reported that: “PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has warned that there will be chaos in the country if judges try to emulate the Kenyan courts and stop his third term bid in 2021.” Our President is a man who neither follows written rules nor respects the constitution of his own country, and therefore he has no standing lecturing the people of Zimbabwe on this issue. I think it would be wise and more prudent for our President to keep quiet than be embarrassing us in this manner. Zimbabwe will resolve Zimbabwe issues in a Zimbabwean way period.
Since Mr. Lungu came to power, he has made many miscalculations from political associations to economic policy priorities, and public spending. Mr. Lungu courted Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, and Robert Mugabe as his mentors. Perhaps this should explain his statement that: “the resignation of Mr. Mugabe has come as a surprise.” What is so surprising about Zimbabwe? Any discerning person could have seen it coming. The 21st Century is inhospitable to life presidents, despotic regimes or cheats governments. Mugabe, Museveni, and Kagame are all misfits in post-modern politics of the 21st Century Africa, and Mr. Lungu must take note. Moreover, rather than be surprised by the events of Zimbabwe and be uttering embarrassing statements, Mr. Lungu should in true humility pick up essential lessons conjectured by the wise in human history. Here are my four lessons for President Lungu from the situation in Zimbabwe.
- ….. be a Faith, from of old, it is this, as we often repeat, that no Lie can live forever. (Carlyle, 1865)
- Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again; The eternal years of God are hers;But Error, wounded, writhes with pain and dies among his worshippers. (Bryant, 1839)
- Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. (Lowell, 1891)
- Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Saint Paul, Galatians 6:7-8 [BSB])
In a nutshell, I appeal to our president to just keep quiet on Zimbabwe and learn the lessons of history. In my mother’s village, they taught us that ichikwanka bachimwena kumampalanya. What has happened to Robert Gabriel Mugabe could soon knock on our door if you without cognitive excuse fail to learn the lessons of the wise as predicted in history. The third term, life Presidency or president without the people’s consent is a lie that cannot live forever. The truth is that power is a temporary trust with which incumbent leaders must do the greatest good for their countrymen and women. Thereafter, gracefully bow out to the next generation of leaders. Even if you crush the truth, disguise the truth, bury the truth; the truth will one day rise up undaunted. The Zimbabwe breakthrough has brought the jubilee in Zimbabwe, the smiles on the faces of our neighbors, and the dancing in the homes and hearts of our kindred south of the Zambezi. It can be contagious. There is nothing sweeter for the masses than a return to liberty and freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of movement. Using government machinery to enslave and silence the masses in their own land under the disguise of peace is a project that will eventually burst and fail. In the unlikely story that this is Zambia, the masses are longing for a return to multi-party democracy of retail politics that our fathers brought to us in the third republic with Frederick Chiluba. For now, we should join the people of Zimbabwe and sing free at last, free at last thank God almighty Zimbabwe is free at last.
By Jones K. Kasonso, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA, MBA, BSc., NATech
The author is a Zambian, An Accounting Professor in Washington DC and Dubai.