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About Hakainde’s response to Lungu’s potential 2026 run

Filed under: Special Comments |
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 By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. In the current political circles, the elephant in the room is whether Former President Edgar Lungu will run for President again in 2026, or if he has completely retired from active politics. Personally l think it would be better for the nation if President Lungu did not run, and instead fully assumed the role of statesman. I say so on the basis of a number of factors, one of which, l must admit, is my own self-interest. The other being the fact that this nation is extremely short of statesmen at the moment. Other factors include the adversarial and vengeful nature of our politics, which l doubt that the Former President would have a stomach for.

2. Despite the many current deficiencies of President Hakainde Hichilema, one thing that you cannot take away from him is that he was a resilient and steadfast opposition leader who perfected the art of surviving a brutal regime. Now that the PF brutal regime has been replaced by the UPND brutal regime, the question that inevitably arises is whether Former President Edgar Lungu would have the same resilience and steadfastness which President Hakainde Hichilema exhibited while in opposition? I think not. You see, surviving a brutal regime, as an opposition leader, is an instinct that you acquire and perfect over a period of time, and that is born out of the trials and tribulations that you are subjected to. It is not something that most politicians readily possess. In the case of President Hakainde Hichilema, he acquired that survival skill first as a third-rate intern to Michael Sata while he fought the MMD regime, and subsequently by auditioning for the role between 2011 and 2014.

3. Truth be told, many of the current crop of leaders in PF including Former President Edgar Lungu himself, were never in the forefront when the Late Former President Michael Sata was battling the MMD regime. The few that were there have most probably forgotten their fighting skills due to the affluence and sleaze that they enjoyed in the 10 years that PF was in power. They have probably forgotten how vicious our politics can be, largely because for a good 10 years, it was them that were bestowing tribulations on others. And as the Chewa proverb goes; “mudya nyemba aibala, koma mudya makoko saibala”. Bottom line is that if indeed Former President Edgar Lungu intends to come back to active politics, then he should not underestimate what lies ahead of him in terms of trials and tribulations. He needs to be physically, emotionally and mentally ready.

4. That said, it is not in anyone’s place to stop Former President Edgar Lungu from coming back to active politics. Everyone has a right to advise him, but no one has a right to stop him. That is why l find it strange that President Hakainde Hichilema is unable to hide his disdain about a potential Lungu come-back. The President’s remarks a few days ago while in the Copperbelt, should be a source of worry to every well-meaning Zambian. Hakainde should understand that Zambia is a Constitutional Republic and not a monarchy with him as king. Therefore the rights of citizens are derived from the Constitution, and not given by Hakainde the king. It is not in the place of President Hakainde Hichilema to determine whether Former President Edgar Lungu comes back to active politics or not.

5. If Mr. Lungu intends to stand in 2026, then Mr. Hichilema should focus on demonstrating to the electorate why he is better than Mr. Lungu. The current status is that Mr. Lungu is a bonafide Zambian citizen whom, according to the Constitutional Court, is eligible to stand again as President of Zambia in 2026. If Former President Edgar Lungu wants to visit churches and mobilize support for his potential 2026 run, he is perfectly within his legal rights to do so. He does not need to get permission from President Hakainde Hichilema nor anyone else for that matter.

6. I must mention however that l am particularly worried with the extent to which President Hakainde Hichilema appears to be preoccupied with a potential Lungu come-back. It has become fashionable for President Hichilema to publicly denounce Former President Edgar Lungu’s potential come-back. But why am l worried? Well, l am worried because the President, like all of us, is only a human being and can only address one issue at a time. Right now, the country is going through an economic melt-down. The economy of the Copperbelt is literally on a standstill, largely because the President has not decided on the way forward regarding Mopani and KCM. The economy of Lusaka is literally dead because there is no money in circulation and the cost of living is unbearable. The economy of rural areas which depend on agriculture is half-dead because farming inputs were either delivered late, not delivered at all or delivered in extremely small quantities, in the past farming season.

7. Given the crisis in which our country and our economy is going through at the moment, we need the President to be giving us his “A” game. We need President Hakainde Hichilema to be giving his undivided attention to the problems that are bedeviling this nation at the moment. But the President cannot do that if he is preoccupied by Former President Edgar Lungu’s potential come-back on the ballot. When he visits the Copperbelt, instead of talking about bread and butter issues such as when he will re-open Mopani and KCM, he is busy talking about how he will deal with alebwelelapo.

8. Mr President sir, Zambia is a Constitutional Democracy and if the people of this great nation decide that they want to bring back Former President Edgar Lungu in 2026, then their will should be respected. It is neither in your place nor in my place to second-guess the wishes of the Zambian people. That is what democracy entails. The same democracy that elevated you from a long-time opposition leader to a Republican President. Let us learn to respect democracy. Both when it favors us and when it doesn’t.

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