Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Stealing HH’s thunder – Lungu’s script at redemption is eye-catching


By Chimwemwe Mwanza

First, it was a cup of tea at his residency with Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa – at which the duo seem to have smoked a peace pipe.
The revered Arch, Telesphore Mpundu followed suit. He too had honest and frank discussions with Edgar Lungu. Civil rights activist, Brebner Changala was the next high-profile personality to break bread with the former Head of State at his Ibex Hill home. Add this to Lungu’s early morning jogs, which by the way are fast becoming a hit with ordinary citizens, there seem to be enough reasons for the former President to keep causing rancour in the ranks of government.

Pick your side, the infamous ‘Uko Kuntumpa’ jibe thrown in the way of Lungu by the incumbent at a rally on the copperbelt was not a random epithet but was carefully stitched to nudge the former President to staying in his lane. Said differently: ‘We expect you to have hang your political gloves by now, what are you still doing in the ring,’ was the tacit reminder in HH’s rebuke to Lungu. Spare a thought for the UPND, Lungu isn’t about to disappear into the sunset anytime soon.
Anything the man does, be it inspecting the price of Mealie Meal pa kantemba or tending to his makeshift vegetable garden, he won’t just stop hogging headlines. And prosecutorial bodies such as DEC and the ACC are unconsciously supplying him with free oxygen ensuring his relevance in our psyche. For clarity, in no way is this assessment a pronunciation of his complicit, guilt or innocence thereof to the raft of graft charges facing his family or his close acquaintances. As the saying goes, there is a thin line between prosecution and persecution. Actually, this tends to have credence more so when state organs begin to ventilate sensitive cases in newsrooms instead of courts.
At this rate and before you wake up, Tasila, Daliso and Chiyeso among others will have become martyrs. Curiously, even UNZA students – who at some point declared Lungu a persona non-grata at the Great East Road campus, blaming him for his government’s decision to scrap their allowances are now scrambling to join him on his morning jogs. This newly found allure is a far cry to the rejection and shellacking he suffered at the Presidential polls. Don’t forget: the booing he was subjected to at Heroes Stadium during President Hakainde Hichilema’s inauguration was an apt reflection of the gulf of distance between him and the citizenry.

Tempting as it may to dismiss these developments as insignificant sideshows playing out in Zambia’s political terrain, it’s important first to dissect what could have prompted the Lungu and Dr Sishuwa dalliance. You see, Dr Sishuwa is not your ordinary citizen. An outspoken critic and arch nemesis of the PF government, he was among a handful of political pundits that accurately predicted the PF’s 2021 electoral defeat to the UPND – this when it seemed unfashionable to go against the grain. He also represents a rare breed of Zambia’s intelligentsia that are unafraid to speak truth to power.
So, imagine this for a second – two roads, one coming from Moscow and the other from Kiev intersecting somewhere in Ibex Hill – of course not on a scale of a Putin and Zelensky meet up for tea in Lusaka but mid-tier combatants from Moscow and Kiev hugging in plain sight of their blood thirst commanders? I shudder to imagine the outcome.

While we may never know who between the two extended a hand of friendship, the fact that Lungu played host is enough a hint. Even more baffling was the former President’s decision to voluntarily make public a few details of this tea session. In fairness, this is not the sort of effrontery we have grown accustomed to Lungu. On this one, he certainly outperformed his standards. Suffice to add, his missive to Dr Sishuwa following the tea meet epitomised a rare act of benevolence by a senior citizen trying hard to make amends with his nemeses – of course not knowing whether this is for his own or in national interest.

And the good old Arch’s visit to Lungu’s residency? It is fact, Catholics are a monolith to Zambian politics. Archbishop Mpundu – equally a vocal critic of the PF, knows all too well that he represents a powerful religious movement which has consistently played a critical role in shaping Zambia’s political trajectory since the advent of plural politics in 1991. Hate him or love him, the Arch is a person of impeccable credentials. Put succinctly, Mpundu is the incarnate of the late Bishop Evaristo Mutale, that gallant man of cloth who contributed immensely to ending one party rule.

Mano, mulilo, uwayikatako, apya,’ we grew up belting this anthem as a homage to Mano Convent school in Mafken (Mufulira) – that was Catholic indoctrination for you. (Ernest Mweemba, Chitembo Kalungu and Melanie Mulenga – wherever you maybe, can you remember those days?) Back to serious stuff, could it be that the Catholics are now coalescing around an alternative to the current government? The simmering tension with government points to something more shadowy.

What is difficult to comprehend but is naked to the eye is Archbishop Mpundu’s newly found disdain for the UPND. How times have changed. This development is a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the UPND government given the civic role that the good old Arch played in helping them despatch the PF from power.

What of Changala. He is a beacon of political morality – always providing checks and balances to respective governments be it MMD, PF and now the UPND. However, he too has turned his back on the current government. That said, it’s tempting to ask, what then is the political undertone in the trio’s pilgrimage to Lungu? Your guess is as good as mine. What is indisputable though is that Lungu is working very hard to mend fences. Is he succeeding in winning the hearts and minds of Zambians?

Here is a clue. The perceived victimisation of those close to the former President shouldn’t be seen as random acts and neither should we become tone deaf to ramblings from those that are still pontificating PF’s misrule – almost 3 years after its demise. This is HH’s economy, he wanted it and now owns it. He must also own the spotlight.
About the Author: Mwanza is an Anglican and enjoys reading Political History and Philosophy. He is currently reading ‘Winnie & Nelson’ Portrait of a Marriage by Jonny Steinberg. What a read. For feedback, email [email protected]


  1. He’s a citizen of this nation so he is at liberty to talk to anyone.
    As for him standing in the next election… people like Kambwili have fallen in Lungu’s trap … only the toughest will stand up to the time Lungu decides to stop playing the game and announce that he’s officially retired as PF president.
    Kambwili as usual has started showing his true nature… unstable in the head, impatient and no campass to follow.

  2. The way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised if this lungu guy made a come back. Zambian politics is unpredictable

  3. Mr Mwanza, jogging with a former president is not political support. Sishuwa Sishuwa is not a god. We all predicted the downfall of PF. His dalliance with his nemesis was for purposes of giving credence to his forthcoming essay on Zambian political history. Was it not archbishop Mpundu who stated recently that trying to resurrect Lungu is like flogging a dead horse?
    Continue reading “Winnie & Nelson” Let sleeping dogs lie

  4. Nonsense …Lungu is a known Bandit and HH is following Lungu’s footsteps….corruption is on the rise…things are not improving….remember HH said once the IMF deal is done Zambian’s economy will improve…nope that was just a bandaid application…and like what Tarino Orange said “Africans we like thinking about today”…..and thats very true….if we want to improve and genuinely grow our economy we need to start thinking about Zambia 15 to 40 years from today….but for as long as we depend on IMF whilst we give away our minerals for free expect Zambia to remain poor for the next 5 billion years till the end of this earth…dont forget that after 5 billion years from today the earth will be no more

  5. It’s a good read. If I were former president’s advisor, I would advice him to be far from Lusaka especially after losing elections. There are nice forests in Zambia which help heal and recover . Build a beautiful house there and start over again from there.

  6. You are reading much into everything…….

    The former President is allowed to live as he chooses and mix with who ever he chooses……

  7. Lungu got wealthy thru dubious means and impoverished Zambians with PF’s ill conceived ideas.NO REDEMPTION for such evils/crimes.

  8. Bandit Edgar Lungu shouldn’t be in the news just ignore this makaka…he needs to be prosecuted and all the money should be recovered so that we can use it to develop zambia but unfortunately Bandit HH also with his minions are busy stealing stolen loot…After office Bandit HH also should be prosecuted together with his minions

  9. Ba Mwanza, there was never an Archbishop Evaristo Mutale but only an Archbishop Elias Mutale who was Archbishop of Lusaka and died in a road traffic accident on the Great East Road and Parliament Road T-junction. What is surely going to sink the UPND, away from the ill-treatment of President Lungu, who still has a large following among Zambians, is the victimisation of citizens who served in government and parastatals from other provinces other than Southern, Western and Northwestern and the entrenchment of ethnicity in government contrary to the promise of the UPND to do things differently from the PF. This will be the UPND undoing in 2025/2026. Zambians are watching all this.

  10. I fail to understand the gist of the article. What message are you trying to convey? What’s clear is that it’s inevitable for ECL to make amends if he’s to effectively play his role as a statesman. ECL mustn’t think about a comeback as that would be a grave mistake. And I don’t think that the people, mentioned, here that have been to his residence went there to encourage him to. So let’s leave it a that. ECL has retired

  11. Wasn’t President Sata, a citizen of this nation and more over he was the President. But why was he NOT taken to hospital in time. So now life is good for nephews and not uncles?
    People must be clear in their thanking.

  12. Indeed, he’s a free citizen who is allowed to have fun and his early morning jogging is part of that. And besides, he is also free to move around with so much freedom that he never gave to his friend. So as he’s playing around, he should remember how he used to treat his perceived enemies


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