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Alba Iulia
Sunday, November 28, 2021

For the Worst 5 Years for Democracy: Lungu Hasn’t Earned the PhD?

Columns For the Worst 5 Years for Democracy: Lungu Hasn’t Earned the PhD?

IN JUNE 2019 the University of Zambia (UNZA), my institution, awarded President Edgar Lungu and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa honorary doctorates in law for ‘exceptional leadership and upholding the rule of law’, in short good for good governance.

Although Lungu himself advised that he should not be called ‘Dr’ Lungu, his followers have no heeded and he hasn’t corrected them. He said, “Firstly, I am not a Doctor. I do not have a doctorate and I do not wish to be called Dr. Edgar Lungu. There is so much talk about the doctorate to be conferred on me by the University of Zambia which I am greatly humbled with.”

Whether or not to call Lungu “Dr” is not the focus of this article. It is rather on whether he has earned the PhD in ‘governance’ conferred on him. When former USA president Barrack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, just one year into his presidency in December 2009, his critics said to him, “You have been awarded, now earn it.” The statement clearly distinguishes deserving at the time of the awarding from earning it, at the end of the recipients term of public service. Hence, Obama said he took the award not as a reward for accomplishments but as a “call to action.”

For those who may not know, a Doctor of Philosophy (or PhD) is a degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study. PhDs are awarded for programmes across the whole breadth of academic fields. Because it is an EARNED research degree, those studying for a PhD are required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis.

Wikipedia tells us that, “An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements, such as matriculation, attendance, course credits, a dissertation, and the passing of comprehensive examinations. The degree is often conferred as a way of honouring a distinguished visitor’s contributions to a specific field or to society in general.”

Lungu was awarded a PhD in good governance. Governance itself is said to consist “of the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised.” According to the United Nations, key measures of good governance are include: citizen participation; new styles of leadership; accountability and transparency; capable public management in economic management, service delivery, sustainable natural resource management and fiscal administration; and respect for law and human rights.

So my questions are: did Lungu deserve the award as at June 2019? And, has he earned it if he didn’t deserve it then? Can it be said that he regarded the award as ‘call to action’ in good governance and has he lived by the call?

To both questions my answer is a categorical NO. To the extent that the PhD is in good governance, he did not deserve it and he has not earned it. I know PF cadres will call me names for saying this but guess what, a PhD is an academic award. That’s why it is only gjven by academic institutions. In academics we argue with facts, with our heads (mutu) and not with our hearts (emotions). So if one cannot counter-argue at that level, sorry it is not for you. Sit down. You are not there.

The reasons I advance below are the same ones that were advanced by those that were opposed to the award both within and outside of the awarding body – Senate – as we read in the media. The University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) for instance, condemned the development and argued that it was concerned that the timing and reasons advanced for conferring Lungu with a doctorate degree “were inadequate to satisfy the widespread indignation, ridicule and scorn the wider public would render”.

On behalf of UNZALARU Publicity Secretary Moffat Moyo said, “The union strongly advised against the conferring of the honorary degree, as such a move would bring negative publicity and impact to the university in the short and long term. The timing and reasons advanced were inadequate to satisfy the widespread indignation, ridicule and scorn the wider public would render.”

Moyo further argued that, “The current mood in the nation suggested that the idea was ill-conceived, ill-informed and lacked evidence on the ground for good governance in general and inadequate support to higher education by the current regime in particular.”

Ricky Mukonza, a public management senior lecturer at South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology, said, “There is no reasonable justification for UNZA to award the two leaders honorary doctorate degrees, worse still for good governance. This is because their stints in power have been marred by controversies on governance-related issues.

“Lungu has been in the headlines for crushing dissenting voices in Zambia. ED’s [Mnangagwa’s] government stands accused of killing people in the aftermath of the 2018 elections as well as those who engaged in protests earlier in the year. Add to that the recent harassment of civil society activists. All this brings into question why the two leaders are receiving honorary degrees,” he said.

Garry Nkombo of the opposition UPND also highlighted some of Lungu’s failings, “I think if he deserves any honour that is fine. But that which they want to confer upon him is clearly not the one because it clear knowledge that Zambia’s governance record is at its lowest stage in the reign of President Lungu and there is no contest to that. The abuse of human rights has been rampant in his style of governance under his nose. The issue of arbitrary arrests of political enemies is in the front stage. The issue after the revelation by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) tells us that our corruption index has risen exponentially and all other issues about the institutions of governance, including the police, have suffered a lot of abuse during this particular period of governance.”

I have argued in my previous articles that 2016 – 2021 has been the worst for our democracy and human and individual rights and freedoms since advent of the Third Republic (in 1991). Below are some examples of governance transgressions:

Individual rights and freedoms – notably assembly, free speech and movement: our constitution clearly grants Zambian citizens freedoms of assembly, movements, speech, etc. This is regardless of whether it is election time or not. However, in Lungu’s Zambia citizens right to assembly or hold demonstrations have been forbidden. Yet the PF in opposition freely held meetings whether it was campaign time or not. Lungu has repeatedly argued that there is no need for citizen assemblies after elections. Yet Michael Sata, as opposition PF leader, would be on the road soon after losing the elections of 2006 and 2008. We read that the opposition UPND have tried to do the same after the 2015 and 2016 elections but would be stopped. As I write, the opposition leaders, especially Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND, PF’s number 1 enemy, is being stopped from moving freely despite this being a campaign period. A group of civil society activists who tried to demonstrate against the purchase.

The annual reports by Amnesty International, for instance, summarise the groom picture on human rights abuses in Zambia: in 2020 it wrote that, “Legislation, intimidation and harassment were used by the authorities to repress the right to freedom of assembly. In June, the President issued threats against members of civil society organizations and anyone else who planned to protest against infringements of their right to freedom of expression. He called on the Minister of Home Affairs to “deal with these boys” whom he said promoted “anarchy”. On 30 September, the Inspector-General of Police said civil society members and traditional leadership were “inciting anarchy.”

In 2021 Amnesty report reads, “Zambian authorities have escalated their attacks on dissent by thwarting a planned anti-corruption protest leading to organisers streaming their protest from the outskirts of Lusaka. According to a coalition of civil society organizations, Zambian authorities are escalating their attacks and intolerance for the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, by clamping down on peaceful dissent in the country. We urge authorities to stop seeing protesters as enemies of the state, and instead take heed of the criticism and not silence them.”

The Public Order Act has been used selectively to silence voices of dissent. For instance, Fumba Chama, Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa were been arrested in December 2019 arrested and put cells for merely demonstrating against the purchase of fire tenders. Chama was also charged with unlawful assembly after he hosted a youth forum on good governance. The courts acquitted them and re-affirmed abuse of the POA by the police.

Corruption: as pointed out by Nkombo (above) the FIC and Auditor General’s reports have repeatedly pointed to high level corruption in public institutions. We live with PF party and senior government officials. We are all witness to what they were before and what they have become during Lungu’s tenure.

Flawed constitution: I have heard some PF campaigners for the 2016 election boast about Lungu having enacted a new constitution in January 2016. What they conveniently avoid to say is that the same Lungu and his PF initiated ‘reforms’ within months of launching the new constitution. The much campaign for Bill 10 was about addressing the many pitfalls in the 2016 constitution; by the way you will recall that MPs were forced to work throughout the night to complete the draft, as if the way was coming to an end. In the end funds were wasted for both the draft and Bill 10.

Political violence: as I wrote in this column as few ago, political violence, or Panga democracy as a call it, is a new culture introduced to the Zambian political culture in 2011 and escalated and perfected since 2016. Never before since 1991 did the country experienced such high levels of political violence and intolerance as during the last five years. We have learnt from interactions with political parties that they now have to recruit and train bouncers to repel PF bouncers. The end result is a cycle and NEW culture of violence in our politics. How sad! And the same culture has come to haunt the PF in form their own internal violence. Examples abounds.

Closure of media institutions: since 2016 and even after June 2019 a number TV and radio have been shut down temporarily or permanently on very flimsy grounds in some cases. The Post Newspapers shut down permanently in November 2016; Muvi TV, Itezhi tezhi radio and Komboni were suspended. In 2020 Prime Television’s licence was revoked “in the interests of public safety, security, peace, welfare or good order”. All these activities have a net effect on press freedom and public access to a variety of information, both of which are vital ingredients of an effective democracy.

Abuse of ZNBC/Public Media: many now agree that ZNBC and other public media are their worst since 1991. For instance, 1991 the opposition MMD would place negative adverts on UNIP and they would run. The story was different under Lungu’s PF, 30 years into democracy.

I end here in the interest of space. I have no doubt that you my readers will add more facts to my argument that Lungu didn’t deserve, hasn’t earned the PhD. Period.

The author is a researcher and scholar with the Institute of Economic and Social Research, University of Zambia. He is reachable on [email protected]


  1. Leave the man alone.
    You are insinuating Unza rescinds it’s decision to. Enough with this humiliation.

    Terrible article.



  2. Lusaka Times…please stop publishing Lungu articles….the youths are looking for employment now they’re trying to take over markets and bus stations again…HH promised them Jobs but i don’t see any jobs being created with the heavy load of IMF kaloba…..IMF is controlled by USA and USA knows how to dominate and steal natural resources especially from poor country…..

  3. Leave the man alone. You got what you wanted and now the people are looking FORWARD to what you promised. Lungu is gone, he won’t come back again so start delivering as you promised. ONE WEEK gone.

  4. It’s quite common for universities to confer doctrate degrees on former students who rise to high political office. Margaret Thatcher was NOT conferred with one by Oxford University because the dons felt that as an educational institution, Mrs Thatcher’s budget cuts in the early years as prime minister of the UK had affected many educational institutions. This meant that it would be improper for Oxford to honour her with a doctorate.

  5. Leave Lungu alone. He didn’t influence Unza to confer him with the PhD degree in this regard. I think that there’s a body of professionals who sit down to arrive at a decision of awarding such honorary degrees. The critics of such decisions may not be aware of some hidden nit grits that are involved before such decisions are made.

  6. Ati “start delivering blah blag” and “one week gone blah blah” Those who don’t learn from their past failings are bound to repeat them so its 100% for Zambia to re-evaluate Lungu’s 7yrs tenure.

  7. UNZA was happy to have two of its former students being presidents of two different countries. It can confer whatever it can, as it deems it fit. Mbozi please write articles that will take us forward. We are done with Lungu this, Lungu that. It is a new dawn. The Zambian people spoke and sent Lungu into retirement. We don’t fight a person who has fallen and graciously accept defeat. We have more pressing issues right now than Lungu’s awards.

  8. The 2021 elections outcome is a slap in the face of the UNZA body.
    You rushed to confer a doctorate on a tin pot dictator like Lungu who completely destroyed Zambia economically.
    Those UNZA dons must be embarrassed now.

  9. #7 Nzambia, We don’t want excuses. People voted for you because you assured them of delivering within a week after being sworn in. If you knew it was not possible to do such in such a period you shouldn’t have promised. It’s all recorded. You knew the damages done by PF that time, so you can’t use that as an excuse.


  11. Hallo iwee.
    Let’s hear Free education implementation
    Lower tax
    Wage hike
    Massive government recruitment
    Drop in fuel price
    Not Lungu nfyo-nfyo-nfyo. Lungu has gone. Stop blindfolding people.
    If this continues I will assemble a new political party just from within this commentary section. We are very capable of taking on this slow acting government.

    DAY 8

    • I agree because I dont think there will be good opposition to UPND so Abanyoli I propose myself as Vice President of your party and together we will bring forth brainy opposition that can ensure Zambian citizens get the best out of their government. We must among others, tackle road tolls, unnecessary ZNBC licences when this is not a public broadcaster but a State station, Water wastage in Southern Africa’s most water abundant country, empowerment of Zambians in the mining industry, Ending the Nuclear power venture with Russia or whoever,

  12. There is a Committee of Professors appointed to decide on who merits being honoured with a doctorate at UNZA; it is not politicians who make this decision. Parkie Mbozi as an academic member of staff at INESOR which is part of UNZA surely must know this. Why is he wasting time writing this drivel! Doesn’t he have anything productive to do? Or is he just being petty and personal? Let’s move on.

  13. Ati ” leave the man alone…….”

    Why ?

    Is he not part of the history of zambia ?

    Are Zambians not paying their hard earned tax to look after him ???

    We warned lungu that history will judge him harshly, time and time again……

    As the saying goes , a people with no history don’t know where they are going….

    Lungu needs to be discussed when ever…..

  14. Such a dull, mediocre , corrupt and evil person should have been stripped off starting from his Grade 12 certificate and the fake undergraduate degree obtained using someone’s name. UNZA administration is a disgrace.

  15. Really laughable…Lazy Lungu couldn’t even interpret the constitution when he advised his ministers to stay on in 2016…even his 3rd only went through because his incompetent handpicked Concourt Judges didn’t want to disappoint him!!

  16. The article was written BEFORE the elections. I note that LT may have a long backlog of feature articles and may not publish more than one at a time. Those who say that we should forget about Lungu are dead wrong. We must INTROSPECT and appraise as a nation. We must understand what happened so that we do not make the same mistakes. The UNZA senate has shown bad judgement when it came to political issues. Remember how they wrote to disown their lecturer? If an UNZA alumni deserved an honorary PhD in Good Governance, it was Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, even posthumously!

  17. #13 Spaka I thought Cadre mentality was only in PF, MMD and Unip? Time for fighting Lungu is over. You promised to deliver services and not to continue talking about Lungu. Talking about him won’t bring those talked about youth employment. You knew the country was ruined but you kept telling our children that Bali will fix it in one week. You said it yourself. Lungu had his time.

  18. Deja vu, stop acting childish. Bally will fix it was just a party slogan and a metaphor! Do you remember more money in your pockets? Exactly the same. So stop crying like a baby and relax. We are in better hands than that of the pf. Things have already started to improve and will definitely improve. These things take time. The standard was set so low during pf that any alternative is better. If Bally doesn’t work according to the expectations of the people and if there is a better option, we shall vote him out too in 5 years. If he performs above average, we increase his mandate to another 5 years.

  19. @Wako,
    Ati things have started to improve… A depreciation of the kwacha that was caused by so-called investors and western donors in support of HH withdrawing their dollars, and an appreciation which is the result of the same characters putting back the dollars into the money markets? We want an appreciation of the kwacha that is sustainable because it will be backed by actual economic fundamentals like an increase in the volume of exports and a reduction in the importation of finished products. That is what your bally should fix. We mean fixing the mono-cultural nature of the Zambian economy that has eluded past Zambian leaders. We are not interested in the cosmetic appreciation of the kwacha that does not bring down the cost of finished products and living!

  20. Leave Edgar alone. You won elections and congratulations but start working. The time to talk about Edgar is gone.

    You promised employment to the youths, give them employment.

  21. We know Parkie Mbozi has not yet been paid his salary, like all other UNZA employees, by the government of his tribesman, Bally. But that is no reason for him to be writing retrogressive articles that give the impression ECL is the reason for his numerous problems. These are the kind of academics one would probably need to take to the village and make him live in a grass thatched hut without electricity and ask him to do something about it. I bet you, he would remain in that situation for ever.

  22. Articles like this shows why Africa will keep lagging behind economically and leadership. Does it mean you people you can’t share UPND policies and show the citizens how they will be implemented better than what PF was doing? Lungu this Lungu that. Nfiti, nfiti,infiti what is your contribution to this nation? You may hate ECL and PF and call the infrastructure they built kaluba because as far as some of you are concerned in USA Europe governments use cash from taxes to build infrastructure. Things you will never take away from ECL despite weaknesses in his leadership: Energy independence for Zambia, Modern Airports, Hospitals and schools in most rural areas and districts, communication towers across the rural, now they watch digital tv and premiership, mobile phone calling with city…

  23. Making calls with city people, civil servants access to loans to build and buy cars. Infact civil servants especially teachers lives got dignified under PF who gave them access to loans like everyone else by increasing their salaries over 100% and having MOU with different banks. Talk of the irrigation dams for all year round farming, early farmers support inputs resulting in excess maize production. It’s under PF Zambia started exporting Maize. Remember the Malawi Maize export scandal? It was not for elections. Nomba ba UPND people voted for you because they felt despite all these achievements of PF, they were failing to quickly transform economic benefits to ordinary citizens for nshima and bread. You were voted for more new jobs, reduce cost of living, employment for youths, lower…

  24. #22 Wacko first let’s respect everyone here. To the point I warned my colleagues about the MORE MONEY IN THE POCKET and they didn’t believe me. Just like now I told them that if taxes are reduced where would government get revenue to run the country. Coming to your Fix fixed, political slogan or not my children were convinced that Bali had the answer to their problem and I told them that if there were 5000000 jobs that would be produced within a week,then it’s ba PF are dull or Bali is an extraordinary person and can walk on water. They didn’t believe me.

  25. Lower interest rates among others. People did not vote for UPND to be hearing about the short comings of President Lungu during his time. Who doesn’t know about that? The elections results is a simple observation anyone can make. So pleas tell us now about the phased process of free education, the phased job creation and many different phases of promises. Since we have changed from immediately to phases. Its understandable because development is gradual but UPND need to hold a press conference and advise youths that we have clearer picture of running government now and we cannot give what we promised immediately but will be done in phases.

  26. #25 Dominion all those things put the PF in trouble because those who got loans started to take home almost nothing, projects also reduced the Kwacha buying power. Uwakwensha ubushiku ba mutasha ilyo bwacha.

  27. Edgar Lungu is personally known by so many traceable people who were in law school together with him at UNZA and also at secondary school.

  28. Use your energy wisely. The man is no longer the president, leave him alone. He also needs a cooling off period. We want him to continue contributing to this great nation. The former president has the duty to teach upcoming politicians how not to run a government. This is very important for Zambia because we tend not to learn from our mistakes and history. We have a new man in charge, now is the time to sharpen your pencils and start writing your wish list. Don’t expect Bally to fix it by himself, he will make mistakes too.

  29. Too long an essay. Just read a few first sentences anyway. The point is if its possible delete them from UNZA PHD record and we forget. And why was UNZA in a harry to confer such an honour to people who are/ were clearly a disaster to the countries they presided/ presiding over.

  30. ECL is no longer president and yet you are still preoccupied with him. When we told you that upnd had no plans and that their campaign was based on only criticism of what pf were doing, this is what we meant. They are failing to tell us how they will achieve the promises they made cause it is easier to be a coward and continue criticising and bullying the pf. It’s like an ex who cannot get over someone who has left. Move on you cows.

  31. You are free to confiscate the PHD, the pull him down from Lungu. Just like you were happy to take away from Chiluba, Nevers, Banda and others.. Even the diplomatic passports were targeted. I wonder of what benefit that would be to you.
    Best wishes in your endeavours.

  32. There is a lab technician here who is having sleepless nights as to what is going to happen. Gone are the weapon wielding days and doing whatever he felt like doing. If I were him, I would lay very low and pray to the Gods of heaven and earth to spare me. While we await UPND to deliver on its promises, let the agencies whose duty is to investigate begin to do so. Nobody is above the law. Zambians are waiting for reparation of all that was stolen from us.
    PS, I am not UPND

  33. Its not too early to judge. Just from the word go, its abundantly clear upnd have not plan. Now they are trying to divert our attention from the promises they were making to the man who is no longer the president. Leave the man alone you cows. Just deliver on your promises. You thought presiding over the affairs of the nation was easy. Tiyeni nomba bombeni tumone.

  34. Good Evening Zambia

    To the author: +++ It just appears like Lungu is living in your mind RENT-FREE. Release Lungu from your mind and channel your energy to something worthwhile.

    The author is a pure definition of a Stuck-In-The-Past-Mentality. He should be writing open articles to HH explaining the difficulties UNZA has had from 1988 such as: Lack of accommodation, Books, Sanitation, Delipidating Building, Unpaid allowance for part-time lectures, Poor food etc. And the problems Zambia is facing

    Yet, he decides to expose his faux-pas mind that is driven by Hate, Resentment. He is the type of a person who consumes his time and energy condemning the neighbours when he has worse things in his household.

    +++ Let’s spend our Time and Energy inspiring, supporting and working with…

  35. For the first time I will agree with Kaizar Zulu……upnd still behaving like there are still in opposition….move forward so will do checks and balances….ECL got his Phd nothing will change….jealous is new BP…check yourself

  36. #38 Independent Observer…If Germany were still occupied with Hitler, there would be no development in that country. Even Uganda doesn’t discuss idi Amin. Move on… after divorce each partner must look to the future not dwelling on how it was with the other person.

  37. Parkie, is it not democratic that ECL played by the rules, allowing for elections to be professionally managed by ECZ, accepting defeat and handing over peacefully to HH? Was this not a show of democracy for you? Tells us about your perfect idea of democracy and show us a country in the world that has been able to realise this perfect idea of democracy. You probably need to read some political science to understand that democracy exists on a continuum where you can talk about some countries being less democratic and others more democratic but cannot talk of any country as being a perfect democratic state. Not even the US, as we saw under Donald Trump, could be said to be a perfect democratic state. Look to the European Union and read about the democratic deficits of the European Union…

  38. … political project and countries therein. Why do you think the Freedom House Institute has for many years been measuring democracy in all countries of the world? Is this not enough indication to you that no perfect idea of democracy has or can probably ever be found in any existing state today?

  39. Kikikikikikijukija!Hehehehehehe!nkunkunkunkyu!hahahahahaha!kwekwekwekwe!kwikwikwikwikwi!kwokwokwokwo!kokokokokokokoko!
    Yaba! Imwe ba1d10+ leave my president alone. Even if you get that PhD, I still think you will continue to Pull him Down; What hate!
    It sounds like a man who divorces a wife in the courts of law and still nags her calling her a whore and all sorts of unprintables. Kwati mulume baletana s3x. Seen in public these merciless niggaz can strangle ECL to death. Leave the poor soul alone. God will deal with him for you later in life. Leave my president alone. He is the only one I got.

  40. Very petty indeed. Politics is not war. Why crucify a losing opponent? Spare Hichilema this pettiness come his inevitable defeat in 2026/31.

  41. Ba Parkie Mbozi naimwe there are numerous topics to tackle apart from Lungu the dead horse you want to continue kicking. Leave the Lungu topic to the Inspector General of Police. You journalists should critically examine the new president. How is he different from previous presidents, What is his manifesto? Will he maintain a huge cabinet? Will he sell the country to the highest bidder like South Africa did? And allow his citizens to be exploited?
    Niye some of the questuins to tackle.

  42. The author is very ignorant. Lungu was not honored with a PhD, but a doctorate. A PhD is a research related degree. Lungu has never done any research. So, if you want to know how to distinguish the difference, Lungu cannot put PhD after his names. That would be impersonation and a crime. He can be called Dr. Lungu, but never Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Ph.D. NEVER! With that, I say the author NEEDS A LOT OF HELP. HE DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS ESPOUSING.

  43. Well articulated article based on presented facts. It would make an interesting reading if those who made this decision would be either accorded a chance to defend their decision with facts or would be asked their basis for the award. Is there a way of rescinding this?

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