Hakainde Hichilema has accused Edgar Lungu of not wanting dialogue “because he’s afraid of losing power”.
Edgar had been abusing power and state institutions to keep himself in power. And any talks that may lead to the stopping of these abuses threaten Edgar’s hold on power.
It a well known fact that Edgar has been abusing the police’s law enforcement powers and its administration of the public order Act to stifle opposition political mobilisation work. Edgar has used the police to frustrate, intimidate, humiliate, arrest, detain and prosecute opposition leaders, members and supporters on flimsy or trumped up reasons and charges. And this is very evident from the very high number of criminal charges brought against opposition leaders, cadres and supporters that the police has failed to successfully prosecute and had to enter nolle prosequis. The entire judicial process – the police, the Anti Corruption Commission, the Drug Enforcement Commission, tribunals and courts – has been grossly abused by Edgar to keep himself in power.
Any meaningful talks with Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND have to address these issues. And right now, Edgar’s power lies in the abuse of these state institutions. A restriction on his abuse of the police will certainly increase the opposition’s enjoyment of most civil liberties which are today being curtailed by the police. This is hindering the opposition’s capacity to politically mobilise, agitate, educate and guide the population.
Today, Edgar, through the abuse of the police, is solely and arbitrarily deciding on who enjoys the freedoms of assembly and expression and when, where and how these should be enjoyed. It’s also a fact that the conduct of elections is totally under Edgar’s control and direction. To hold credible elections that can pass the test of being peaceful, free and fair will require Edgar relinquishing this control over the entire electoral process. Again, that takes power away from him.
Aung San Suu Kyi said, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” And Edgar is certainly scared of talks that reduce his ability to manipulate processes in his favour. But as Theodore Roosevelt correctly observed, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
It is said that strong men, conversely, know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater principle. When you are full of fear of losing power, it makes you stiff, stubborn, and creates strife with others.
And to argue with a person who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding others in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead.
There’s none so blind as those who will not listen. It is said that those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth. The voices of cold reason from the Commonwealth secretariat and others were talking, as usual, to Edgar’s deaf ears. He is not interested in talks; he is scared of honest talks.
But Edgar, the unteachable man, is sentenced to being taught only by experience. The tragedy is he reaches nothing further than his own pain. A strong person is one who knows when to mull over things and consider the concerns and feelings of others and make the necessary compromises. The wise person can change his mind and make compromises; the stubborn one, never.
They say there is nothing in the world more stubborn than a corpse: you can hit it, you can knock it to pieces, but you cannot convince it. But there is really nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake, a wrong, an injustice.
In Proverbs 29:1, it is said: “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.” There’s no need to deceive oneself and try to justify wrong, injustice.
It’s said that whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
Proverbs 16:18 teaches, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
They say when people are so stubborn to go their own way, God gives them over to their stubbornness. We are free to yield to truth. All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, unjust, unfair, inhuman and repairs the evil. The only crime is stiff-neckedness, pride. True wisdom is marked by willingness to listen and a sense of knowing when to yield. To submit isn’t to be forced. It’s to yield to a force greater than your own, in order to become part of the whole.
They say if a branch is too rigid, it will break. Resist, and you will perish. Know how to yield, and you will survive.
Strength should always be complimented by softness. If you resist too much, you will break. Thus, the strong person knows when to use strength and when to yield, and good fortune and disaster depend on whether you know how and when to yield. Develop flexibility and you will be firm; cultivate yielding and you will be strong. And yielding is legitimate and essential in two cases: when the yielder is convinced that those who are striving to make him yield are in the right – in which case, honest political leaders frankly and openly admit their mistake – or when an irrational and harmful demand is yielded to in order to avert a greater evil.