Lungu wedded to lies

It’s unbelievable that a politician in such a very high position like Edgar Lungu can be so insincere and so seriously lack integrity.

Vernon Mwaanga says no opposition leader has ever asked him to arrange a meeting with Edgar. This is in reaction to a claim by Edgar during a Patriotic Front Chilanga parliamentary by-election campaign rally on Sunday that Mwaanga had been asked by an unnamed opposition political party leader to arrange a meeting at night with him at State House.

Edgar further claims that Mwaanga had been tasked to ensure that what had happened in Kenya happens in Zambia.
“I am sure you are all aware of what happened in Kenya…President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Vice-President Ruto invited Odinga and his vice-president…it is a good thing right? But here…we invite them for prayers, they don’t want…we say let’s do this, they don’t want…now an unnamed opposition is asking ba VJ to arrange a meeting at State House in the night. Meeting me at night! No!” retorted Edgar.

But Mwaanga, in a statement on Monday, stated that it was not anyone’s wish but his that Edgar and Hakainde Hichilema met to discuss issues that affect the nation.
“My attention has been drawn to remarks made yesterday at a PF campaign rally in Chilanga by President Edgar C. Lungu to the effect that I had been approached by an unnamed opposition party leader, to arrange a night meeting with him at State House. I wish to category state that no opposition party leader has ever approached me to arrange a meeting with President Lungu at night or at any other time of day,” stated Mwaanga.

From observing the methods used by Edgar, we can learn valuable lessons which may help us recognise the same tendencies in ourselves at the earliest stages and to thus avoid a complete fall. It can also help us to make wiser choices regarding what type of people we involve ourselves with.

The first most dominant character flaw that we observe in Edgar is dishonesty. Lying seems particularly tempting to Edgar because he is in a position of authority that often makes it easy for him to lie without getting caught. Usually, the most easily detected lies Edgar tells are exaggerations of what good things he has done or is doing, and misrepresentations of his Christian life. The leader who feels comfortable repeatedly lying to the people about such things frequently proves to be unreliable and deceptive in his or her dealings with public finances, and corrupt in other areas of his or her personal morals. The rewards lying brings such leaders reinforces the practice and their lying can become habitual. We believe that such lying is a serious sin in itself (Acts 5:1-11) and that we, as a nation, have often treated it too trivially. Lying leaders inevitably hurt other citizens, and if they try to be seen to be more Christian than others as Lungu is doing, they bring reproach upon the Gospel, and bring both temporal and eternal harm to themselves.

But we know that lying leaders like Edgar need facilitators. There must be others who lend credibility to their lies.
The most important facilitator is the leader’s spouse. The spouse is the one who best knows the leader and if he or she vouches for the leader’s honest character, others will tend to believe the spouse’s testimony. Consequently, an abusive or lying leader must have a complicit spouse who adopts the mentality and methods of the leader. Since spouses share in the glory or the shame surrounding the leader, it is in their own best interest to share in the dishonest traits that most enhance the couple’s position, income, and reputation. This spousal complicity seems to be surprisingly common.

The lying leader must develop a loyal stable of trusting minions who support the leader and who report to the leader any signs of mistrust among the followers. The proximity of the minions to the leader lends credibility to their support of him. Followers reason that those who are closer to the leader than they are would know if something were wrong and the unanimous front projected by the minions provides a powerful and intimidating testimony to the leader’s character that most individual followers find impossible to question.

By using these minions as spies who report any mistrust or ‘disloyalty,’ the leader is able to ensure that only implicitly trusting minions are promoted to leadership positions in the ruling party and its government.
The leader maintains the minions’ unquestioning loyalty by making each one feel like a special and exalted part of the group, and to therefore tie the minions’ ego gratification inextricably into the group’s opinion of the leader who has chosen them. Additionally, the leader will so demonize past minions who were ‘disloyal’ that the current minions will be either afraid to think for themselves or, if all else fails, intimidated into silence.

Other prominent leaders outside of the group can unwittingly serve as facilitators. These other leaders may be men and women of integrity who are unaware of the liar’s character defects. These leaders’ friendship with the liar will appear to be a public endorsement of the liar which most followers will not feel qualified to disagree with.

The liar’s credibility increases as the size and status of his party and government grows. A herd mentality overtakes an excited or growing group to such an extent that individual herd members believe and accept things they never would have had they remained outside of the group. Thus, the dynamics of the group itself act as a validating force for the leader.

Lying leaders will usually claim that any genuine activity of the Holy Spirit done through their party and its government is God’s personal endorsement of their character. Followers often find it difficult to separate the source from the vessel of God’s expressions of grace. This is so in spite of the biblical examples of God’s using Balaam (Num 22-24) and Saul (1 Sam 10:10-11, 19:23-24), and His outpouring of spiritual gifts in the deeply flawed Corinthian (1 Co 1:7) and Galatian (Gal 5:5) churches. Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt 7:22-23 NIV). Clearly, God’s gracious activity is not necessarily an endorsement of the teachings or practices of the vessel used. The lying leader’s effort to use God’s gracious blessings as an endorsement of their character is an attempt to make the Holy Spirit a facilitator of their lies.

The effective lying leader must be able to bully others into silence and compliance. Though he will never be successful in intimidating everyone in the group into mindless obedience, he can use the ‘rebels’ as examples to scare most of the others from following in their footsteps. The leader so demonises the ‘rebels’ in his private conversations and public speaking that it becomes clear to the followers that to ‘rebel’ would mean having their reputations destroyed in a similar way by the leader.
To further intimidate followers, the leader will teach them that God’s judgment will fall on anyone who ‘attacks’ – disagrees with or notices the misconduct of – the leader.

The leader’s ‘anointing’ is portrayed as a divine force-field that destroys those who try to penetrate it with criticisms or accusations. Lying leaders frequently cite David’s decision to “not touch the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam 26) as a model that teaches one must never question, disagree with, or disapprove of the leader’s teachings or actions. They trust that their minions will not study this passage with an open mind, for in it we find that David and his band were not in compliance with Saul. Saul, the anointed one, considered these men to be rebellious outlaws who would not submit to his discipline. David’s choice to “not touch the Lord’s anointed” was a decision to not kill Saul, not a decision to agree with everything Saul said or to mindlessly obey his every dictate. In fact, the lying leader must trust that followers will not read the New Testament with an open mind because it teaches against unqualified obedience to any man. We are taught to question or test everything that is presented to us (1 Th 5:21, 1 Jn 4:1), and provisions are made for disciplining leaders guilty of misconduct (1 Tim 5:19-20). Christ commended believers who tested even those leaders who claimed to be apostles (Rev. 2:2).

Generally, the followers so value their part in the “special” work they are part of, and have become so attached to the benefits and trappings of power, they cannot endure the prospect of losing these things. They would rather give up their critical thinking skills than risk the loss of what has become so vitally important to them. Additionally, it seems that the thought of admitting they have been wrong in their devotion to the leader generally proves to be a prospect too humiliating to allow followers to think clearly or critically about the leader’s utterances and conduct.
As a liar tells more lies, he or she becomes more of a liar at heart. The practice becomes an increasingly natural and dominant part of the person as their conscience becomes increasingly seared and the rewards of lying become increasingly appreciated.
The liar actually starts to delight in the lying itself. Lying can give the liar a sense of power and personal triumph over the ones he has deceived.

He can lie even when there was no tangible benefit to himself or anyone else. In time, habitual liars do not think of themselves as doing anything wrong when they lie. These liars come to think of “truth” in utilitarian terms. Whatever is useful is “true.” Whatever inconveniences or embarrasses them is “false.” Whether something is factual or not seems not to be an ethical issue for these dishonest leaders. Consequently, they feel a genuine sense of moral outrage when someone challenges or opposes them. This “sincerity” that their twisted morality provides them enhances their continued persuasiveness with their followers.
The habit of lying removes the safe-guard of accountability. Accountability to others is a strong barrier to sin. If, due to the habit of lying to cover our sins, we believe no one else will know what we have done wrong, we will not feel accountable to others for our actions and this barrier will be removed. When this barrier is removed, the backslidden heart is given free reign and the liar will inevitably find himself gaining unstoppable momentum down the moral slippery slope. On this downward slide, he will hurt himself and others.

Lying can give the liar a sense of power and personal triumph over the ones he has deceived. Lying leaders increase their culpability by remaining in leadership positions that, in spite of their rationalisations, they know they are not morally qualified for. Paul provides us with strict moral qualifications for leaders and while lying leaders seem to feel that their position and “anointing” somehow excuse their sin or validate their rationalisations, James tells us that those who exercise leadership responsibilities are actually more accountable to God for their conduct (Jas 3:1). As Matthew Henry said, “A wicked man is the worst of creatures; a wicked Christian is the worst of men; and a wicked minister is the worst of Christians.”

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