Listening to Edgar Lungu being interviewed by ZNBC’s Grevazio Zulu, one is left wondering what he believes in and what he is up to.
“…I am interested in standing,” says Edgar.
“Obviously 10 years is the best time that you can have to deliver and I was sharing with President Uhuru [Kenyatta] over this same one to say, ‘Why don’t they just give us 10 years and we go? One term, 10 years, you go. At that point, you will not be worried about re-election, you will focus on growth of the economy and serious issues. But what is happening is that immediately you go in there, people begin challenging you and you begin defending yourself and again a boxing match ensues. At the end of the day, you don’t do much work. But that’s food for thought coming from me…But for 2021 my brother, if the matter in court says I am ineligible, I will not be eligible. If the court says I am eligible, I will be eligible and I don’t know why this is becoming a very difficult issue. For me, I believe in rule of law, I believe that the law is made by Parliament, I believe that the law is interpreted by the courts of law and the law is enforced by us as executive. We are also entitled to checks and balances, we check over each other and say, ‘Excuse me! What is going on?’ And I think that is how our democracy is. There is no harm in talking about the judiciary or the legislature. There is no harm in talking about the executive. Why should it be the executive to be always lambasted and criticised and accused of wrong doing? For you to say I am raising controversy when I say I will stand in 2021…I want to stand because my friends want me to stand so that we continue with the programme but if the law says, ‘You can’t stand bwana!’ The earlier they say so, the better so that we find a substitute. That’s how these things go.”
It’s very clear that Edgar finds presidential powers too sweet to leave after five or seven years. Even if he was given ten years, Edgar would, like Frederick Chiluba, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Robert Mugabe, want more years. And Edgar has demonstrated that he is ready to crush anyone standing in his way like a tonne of bricks.
A few weeks ago, Edgar warned Constitutional Court judges that there will be chaos in the country if they stopped him from contesting the 2021 presidential elections. Now the same Edgar, who wants the president’s term of office to extend to an uncontested ten years, says he will accept the court’s decision! And he is urging the Constitutional Court to deliver its decision early! What has happened to the chaos threat? Why the sudden desire to have the Constitutional Court decision early?
It wouldn’t be wrong for anyone to assume that Edgar has managed to armtwist or scare the Constitutional Court judges to give him what he wants – a third term of office! Edgar doesn’t know how to accept unfavourable court or tribunal decisions. It always has to go his way. If the court decision doesn’t go his way, Edgar will always find a way to undermine it.
If this happens, it will be the first time Edgar truly accepts and respects an unfavourable court or tribunal decision. And we don’t think that the time has come for Edgar to do so. Edgar still very much wants to remain president and he will do anything to continue in office. Even if the Constitutional Court decision is unfavourable, Edgar will certainly find a way to undermine it even before it is delivered.
And his language has somewhat changed over the issue. Why? He is simply trying to prepare the Zambian people to accept a court decision giving him a third term of office. The truth is Edgar isn’t ready to accept and respect a decision that will stop him from having a third term of office.
From his outbursts, Edgar knows what’s going on in the Supreme Court. The judges who are committed to him tell him what is going on. When he made those threats of chaos, it was not from without; he knew what was going on at the Constitutional Court.
Even now, his friends must have told him about the decision of the Constitutional Court on this issue. That is why he wants it early. Edgar will get what he wants from the Constitutional Court.