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Saturday, April 17, 2021

President Lungu’s Friday mingle with journalists

…at State House, the diplomatic coup twist analysis

Headlines President Lungu’s Friday mingle with journalists


President Lungu

By Ambassador Anthony Mukwita

Friday the eighth 2019 will probably go down as the best diplomacy day on the annual calendar of President Edgar Lungu.

It is the day he came out and reconnected with the country through the fourth estate and managed to win many hearts and souls, even from his harshest critics.

It is the day that the Edgar Lungu Zambians voted for in 2014 and repeated the feat by more than 50 percent in 2016 came alive saying “I am still your man and live in the same country as you.”

In diplomatic parlance we would call it a ‘Diplomatic Coup’ due to the warm fuzzy feeling it left on the minds of many long after he had walked off the stage, leaving journalists eating from his hands and thirsting for more positively.

The President of Zambia has his own style of communicating, unlike his predecessors such as Dr Kenneth Kaunda who depended heavily on press conferences, and that must be respected.

The mingle, however, proved communication and diplomacy professors right: an eloquent and likable politician like him sometimes needs to be left to roam in the wild in order to spread his wings effectively. He did that on Friday like a duck turns to water.

President Lungu explained the crippling power shortages in a more succinct and humanly manner than it has probably been ever explained before, by reducing it down to Jack the Barber, BOB the welder and Sarah the hair dress who have shut down business due to the shortages of power.

He made the problem a human problem, not a climate change or technical problem ordinary Zambians affected by the scourge daily do not want to fathom.

President Lungu did not just present the problem but threw a proverbial bone to journalists when he touted the solution of a $100 million German Zambia GETFIT renewable energy project for 120MW which must be ready next year. A watt at a time.

While talking visionary long-term solutions apart from GETFIT and new regulation that must make the sector profitable, President Lungu told journalists about the short-term measures of getting the industrial power machinery running through the importation of $44 million worth of energy, expensive but necessary.

After doing all the heavy pushing and removing the elephant in the room-energy-that is directly adversely affecting everyone in Zambia in one way or another, he humbly explained that for Zambia’s GDP to grow, industrialisation, agriculture and skills would be vital. Ramp up exports.

Another diplomatic score he bagged but many could not see directly was his subtle exuding of confidence which he showed by owning a problem, touting a solution and saying: “I am in charge”.

President Lungu did not pass the back and if anyone inside and outside his party were in any doubt about his willingness to give and take a punch in the next 2021 poll, he cleared the air by telling them: “I am coming back…am ready for a fight.”

Analysing Friday as a diplomat and a student of international relations and an author, I can draw a conclusion that the Friday State House mingle was a win for the Commander in chief.

The journalists that broke bread and water with him shall fondly retell the story over and over because it’s not every day you get to mingle with the President of Zambia.

Perhaps his astute Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti would encourage more of these mingles with the media perhaps once a month, a quarter or whenever it is felt that Zambians want the calming voice of the President.

This is diplomatically the reason the Captain on the plane steps in and says: “This is your Captain speaking…we are going through a turbulent patch, but everything will be normal in a while. Please keep your seat belts on until the seat belt sign is switched off. Thank you.”

President Lungu known mostly for being a man of the people showed once again that the trappings of State House have had little or no effect to his natural-born traits of humility and patience. He remains a man of the soil.

President Lungu mingled, shook lots of hands, shared a joke here and humoured the press like the ordinary husband, father and lawyer they voted for.

Needless to say, the energy deficit did not immediately go away but the narrative has now changed to that of Hope instead of Despair.

Reconciliation and love and not combative and settling of personal scores.

The political adage “everybody needs just five minutes with the President” came to life: a classic case study in diplomacy, cultural studies, and public speaking or engagement.

The author is the Ambassador of Zambia Germany. He is also the author of the insightful book “Against all Odds, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s Rough Journey to State House.”


  1. Is this something to be proud of? Something that many leaders world wide have been doing for centuries? To make matters worse the journalists were specially vetted and questions reviewed before hand. We will only give lungu respect if he faces an independent panel of interviewers like hh did on hardtalk. Not this nonsense. Anthony even in Sweden you are busy cadering. **********deleted**********

    The economy is on its knees, & this Goon Mukwita is trying to spin an image of a thriving Nation.
    THE COUNTRY IS BROKE IWE’ [email protected], load shedding is the norm, civil servants, farmers not paid on time, selling off our land & wildlife to foreigners order of the day, Kwacha in freefall, Corruption, & mysterious magical properties spring up daily like seasonal mushrooms, only you praise Belly singers are the only ones who are enjoying your “MWIBALA FAILED STATE OF MILK & HONEY”
    Stop Smoking Lubange’ Mwikuta, & just continue focussing on your wardrobe, as that means the world to you!

  3. Ambassador Mukwita?? Zambia is finished. I have stayed in diaspora for over twenty years, we never heard of a high commissioner or ambassador writing such crap to impress the master. They have removed cadres from markets etc hope they do same in missions abroad.

  4. Why is he questioning the courts decision on the ministers illegal stay saying its morally wrong for them to pay because they worked signing for loans which the country benefited from. Firstly mr lungu there is question of morality on your part by misleading those ministers, so if you say it’s morally wrong for the ministers to pay what are you saying about misleading them.
    Secondly the people who benefited from those loans you say ministers were signing is the PF party for campaigns and rigging the elections, Zambia as a country never benefited anything as is evident now people suffering. The same loans that you later denied and refuted when brought before the court of law saying someone signed them when they were out of office or is your memory too short to remember this?

  5. The Kwacha immediately lost ground after that political Presser! It’s jumped from 13 to 14 to a USD! That should tell you something if you have a discerning mind! The Kwacha is not always cheated by stage-managed Pressers! It was another missed opportunity for someone to inspire hope in the Sick Kwacha! It’s such a shock that a President in a Democracy can only address the Press after being begged for three years! Worse, what is there to celebrate about Bill 10 that brings Deputy Ministers, punishes retirees and puts more power in one person instead of decentralization of power? Anyway, let the small flat brains celebrate as the economy sinks it’s teeth further!

  6. “….he humbly explained that for Zambia’s GDP to grow, industrialisation, agriculture and skills would be vital. Ramp up exports…”

    Ohhh is that so mr president ???

    Very important and intelligent observation……


  7. The president may have explained things so so but they did play mind games on the journalists. Also simply because he was honest enough doesn’t mean he’s not incompetent, for we very well know he is.
    Any leader who lacks foresight is as incompetent as leaders come, and our president is simply that.

  8. YAWN!!!!
    Which worn out carpet did this Mukwita emerge from? Please spray the carpet with a good anti cockroach, it may be effective in this case too.

  9. This is a civil servant, a Diplomat writing articles of appeasement. That is not a performance to be proud of as it was terrible especially for a former lawyer!

  10. It is always sad to be reading hate comments, Zambians we should denounce insultes, hate speeches and comments etc, let us remember that our fore fathers where united when they fought for freedom and the peace we are enjoying today. As we always say, ‘united we Stand, divided we fall’. Those in opposition unity with the rulling party PF under the leadership of President Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, one leader at time and that does not mean that when you get united with the rulling party then you can not speak and advise, you need to use the language which will Unity Zambia, which will focus on the national development

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