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Monday, June 27, 2022

The collapsing Zambian morals: Often, citizens follow their leaders’ model

Columns The collapsing Zambian morals: Often, citizens follow their leaders’ model

Edward Chisanga

The loud knock on my study room door woke me up from a rare slumber I was enjoying while asleep for almost one hour. It was Toto, my stepson who was disturbing my sleep. He had the wisdom to come in response to the request I had made the day before.

After thanking him, I began by asking him, “Son, this country has a serious problem concerning decaying morals. Look right, look left, look forward, look backwards, you’ll notice a string eroding those morals. The decay has touched every nerve and blood cell. It is in every department of our society. It is seen in public institutions, private sector, workplaces, private life, in children, in adults, in women, in men, in leadership, in the led, in street kids, etc.”

My son responded, “Everyone cheats. People are being killed, robbed, raped, divorced, recklessly drinking, pinching, robbing, driving carelessly, disobeying traffic rules and driving at red traffic lights, leaders amassing wealth from public resources, forging official documents, etc. Look at the roads, Minibuses drivers are controlling streets and roads. They don’t respect road rules. Cars are driving at red lights instead of stopping. You’re a driver who respects road rules, is driving and suddenly, another car overtakes you without asking you. Car drivers drive with their phones in their ears. What’s going on?”

“That is exactly the question I called you to answer. You were old enough during President Kaunda’s rule. What lessons can you draw from that?”

“Good point dad. Many good lessons. Kaunda married once. We don’t have stories about his secret indulgencies except for one daughter who was my neighbour at Bank of Zambia flats in Lusaka. Neither do we know whether she came outside marriage or was born before. Notwithstanding, he had wise character. Perhaps more importantly, his public life was exemplary in that he is not associated with corruption like thefts. His Ministers and others appointed by him were not corrupt. He was a firm and strong disciplinarian. We hardly had thieves, generally, men respected their wives and women, children walked the streets without harm, and no child was seen drinking Kachasu or other dangerous drinks. As a result of this good leader, most Zambians were well behaved. Many things were in order.”

“And President Chiluba’s time?”

“He divorced his wife for another woman. That was the genesis of moral decay in the country. It opened a pandora box or a prolific source of trouble in the country. Corruption was introduced, public thefts began, divorces increased, overly-womanizing by public officers began, abuse of public property and resources began, hunger and hatred became part of us, we began to see people involved in road accidents beaten, even killed simply to rob them of money, personal items, etc instead of saving their lives. Lies increased in homes, offices, among adults, and even children. That largely explains why many Zambians, not all have lost morals.”

“Then Mwanawasa came.”

“He tried to restore good morals but they were too deeply implanted in us. He tried to stamp out corruption and public stealing of funds. As President, he had one wife and we never heard of stories about his misbehaviour with other women. But he operated under an already corroded system with corruption. His predecessor, President Banda, his successor also had one wife during his Presidency and we don’t have bad stories about him. Corruption was present including inside the State House. He did not change our way of life even if they were bad because lies, misuse of public resources, household moral decay, abuse of children, thefts of public resources, etc continued.”

“What about the Lungu Presidency?”

“He ruled with a legacy of many bad things. There was no state or rules at all. If ‘elite capture’ often runs government and controls citizens’ lives, under Lungu’s rule, ‘cadre capture’ reigned. Our lives were largely controlled by unruly cadres with little or no education. Was there a state when cadres could simply grab innocent peoples’ land, property and other things unabated? Was there, when cadres simply fed on public funds unstopped? The President literally divorced his wife for a foreign woman and his Ministers and others followed a similar route by overly-indulging unbridled. He and his team simply walked into the Ministry of Lands and altered books in order to award themselves state land. They overturned rules and grabbed chiefs’ land unchallenged. Although a large part of the citizens remained steadfast with good morals, many lost it.”

“What about the new leaders of President Hichilema?”

“It is not fair to state anything so far because they’re still very new. He is preaching good values, good governance, zero tolerance for corruption and respect for rule of law. We have a lot of time to study and understand them.”

“As usual, many thanks my son for these insights.”


  1. Don’t blame the leadership for your moral decay. In Mudzabwera Chingola where I lived we had neighbors whose parents were often drunk, fighting and generally morally corrupt…all their children managed to get minimum college diploma while one is medical doctor practicing abroad.

  2. moderation
    Don’t blame the leadership for your moral decay. Where I lived we had neighbors whose parents were often drunk, fighting and generally morally corrupt…all their children managed to get minimum college diploma while one is medical doctor practicing abroad.

  3. President HH has not declared his assets and neither explained source of his wealth and we have heard scandals in eight months in his government which we have not been given answers.The fertiliser scandal,The foreign affairs minister meeting in the car park

  4. The president’s office was respected and had morals until that scruffy crook hh illegally became president. He will only last one term.

  5. This is sad where you write an article with hatred and paint others to be black. So bad leaders were Chiluba, Banda and Lungu?
    What about the vigilantes in Kaunda time? What can you say about Maureen Mwanawasa, a bankrupt former first Lady with white collar crime? Your article is only telling us that HH is the most righteous man, it’s laughable. 3

  6. “…. The President literally divorced his wife for a foreign woman…”
    President Lungu did this? Someone to help me understand the truthfulness of this statement.
    The last paragraph, because HH preaches all these good things, we must therefore pat him on the back? Which President didn’t preach fight against corruption, respect for rule of law and other such?
    HH has failed to declare assets, failed to act on leaked audio, DPP scandal, Gary’s actions. And his observance of the rule of the law is to ask Stanley Kakubo if he got cash corruptly, Stanley says no, case closed, rule of law applied.

  7. Just wondering why he skipped RB & MCS. We are each responsible for our deeds or misdeeds, so it’s not correct to try and portray others are bad. We all have 2 sides, the good and the bad

  8. Chiza Chirwa, I have also wondered how “President Lungu literally divorced his wife for a foreign woman”

    These are the same lies and propaganda brought by this govt. They do everything possible to paint their perceived enemies as black as possible.
    Now after promising to free the media during campaigns…. they’re being threatened. We’re in trouble as a Nation.

  9. Kaizar Zulu, comedy should have its time and space. HH, “jumps into a swimming pool, you say he has caused dust”. You had the privilege and honour to advise Lungu, what did you do? Would I be wrong to say, most of Lungu’s mess, smells of you. Now he is facing the music alone.

  10. I for one don’t like this style of writing.

    I think it dilutes the seriousness of the topic……….

  11. Its ECL that came to be president illegally and employed you Kaizer, whom Sata dismissed for corruption, as his chief bully orgamiser helped by Davis Mwila

  12. Our childhood neighbors parents were often drunk and abusive. But their children completed college and University. One of them is a doctor practicing abroad. By the way how come you, yourself have not been spoiled by any of what you bad leaders.

  13. its like every Jim and Jack is taking every opportunity to make Lungu look bad. ACC says they have not found any corruption to link him to …. imwe ati there was corruption at state house. Just because HH called him corrupt does not mean he was corrupt. and just because HH says he is not corrupt does not mean he is clean. in fact all I see today is Tribal sensitivity where any comment or jib on tribe is a crime. Gone are the days when we joked with each other because of current tribal sensitive politicians.

  14. #12 Gundu. You could be right. At one of clubs people have literally taken over by scaring away certain ethinics. You don’t feel comfortable, you can feel the thick hostility combined with pomposity
    Of course it’s not everyone involved but the hostile situation is there.

  15. Most of the comments I read about our leader are negative. But nevertheless, God has given them a guided hand to rule over us. He will himself sustain them in position for as long He wishes. There are many countries that make the world but I only have Zambia to treasure.

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