By Henry Kabinga
“Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad” is a popular seventeenth century saying. I find this very apt in describing president Lungu’s seemingly bizarre appointment of Nkandu Luo as his presidential running mate.
This is because from an independent point of view, this is an irrational, poorly thought out and highly absurd appointment for a number of reasons.
Nkandu Luo’s political history, going back to her time in MMD, through her political hiatus, and her bouncing back under the PF has been mired in controversy. She raises toxic political dust wherever she goes.
- Under the MMD, when she was a minister of transport, Luo raised a political storm with minibus drivers and owners when she forced through a Statutory Instrument (SI) that compelled all taxi and minibuses to be branded in MMD colours, blue and white. Typical of her character, there was no consultation with stakeholders on this whole exercise and all objections were met with arrogant pushbacks typical of her motor mouth.
- When she was minister of health, she had another toxic relationship with health workers that led to a massive number of doctors and nurses leaving Zambia for neighbouring countries as well as abroad to countries like the UK, USA and Australia. That her background was in health spoke of how poor her public relations were if she could force persons that shared her profession to take such drastic steps as to leave their jobs on account of her maladministration.
- Fast track to 2013 and Luo is now minister of chiefs and traditional affairs under the PF and one of our enduring memories of that year is the epic fight she had with her own traditional ruler, the current paramount chief Chitimukulu when she got embroiled in chieftaincy succession wrangles where she wanted her own preference to succeed to the leadership of that chieftaincy.
- As if that was not enough, when she moved to the ministry of higher education, she picked fights with literally all those under her ministry – students, when she abolished meal allowances as well as lecturers and administrators over all sorts of things. These constant wrangles that she is always quick to start, culminated into the closure of the Copperbelt University for several months leading to the delayed graduation of students.
The question should logically arise as to why president Lungu has picked on probably the worst choice he could have been provided with for a running mate. It would seem judging from his answer to this question, that Mr. Lungu chose Nkandu Luo personally and with no consultation with anyone else whatsoever. What others see as minuses or deficiencies of character and leadership qualities of his subordinates appear to be pluses for this president.
The question is why should this be so? My own answer, as I conclude my brief treatise, is that Mr. Lungu would like to carry on running the affairs of this country even beyond 2026 should he win this year’s election. By choosing a very poor and unpopular person for vice president, the question of who takes over from him in 2026 is made much easier as there will be no question about Nkandu Luo’s unsuitability in any mind both within and outside the Patriotic Front. Having manoeuvred through into an illegal third term, what stops Mr. Lungu from going on into a fourth, fifth or more terms in the manner we have seen with his mentor, Mr. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda?