BISHOP John Mambo says the presidency is being mismanaged as no updates have been given on the health of President Edgar Lungu since his departure to South Africa last week.
The Chikondi Foundation president questioned the health status of President Lungu who was said to be attending a routine medical checkup after meeting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.
Last week State House announced that President Lungu was going for his annual medical review in South Africa where he would also hold consultative talks with President Ramaphosa on the DRC election situation.
Since his departure, there has not been any updates on the President.
Bishop Mambo said the people advising the President should know that once a President is elected, regardless of the party ticket, he becomes a national treasure.
“When it comes to the President leaving the country and we get a statement that he is leaving and he is going to be with his counterpart Ramaphosa and afterwards do a medical check, there is need for Zambians to be briefed. I am on record since time immemorial saying the Head of State is not handled by one person; he is not handled by staff at State House…he is a property of the entire nation, they need to know,” he said.
“I am opposed to talk about the sickness of any other person but when you are Head of State…we know that honourable [Mike] Mulongoti is not well and they have flown him out of the country and as a country, since he has been sent by the State, we would want updates. We have been sent abroad when we are not well but then there must be updates and here we are talking about the President. It has happened elsewhere when military people by merely not informing them want to misbehave. Thank God for the African Union and the world which says the army can no longer rule but they simply say where is our Head of State?”
Bishop Mambo said for the purposes of prayers and healing, Zambians should be abreast with what was happening to their President’s health.
“Let’s graduate from where you want to say waikatako wapya, the President becomes the property of the ruling party and in this case, it’s PF…. no! There are many people who are not members of the PF but voted for him because he is Edgar Chagwa Lungu, His Excellency…. People just want to know what’s wrong with him,” he said.
Bishop Mambo said what was happening now was exactly what happened when President [Michael] Sata flew out of the country only to return in a coffin.
He demanded a daily or weekly update on the health of the President as he undergoes medical checkups.
“We are praying here for what we do not know, unspoken prayer request where you are saying that ‘I am unwell but I will not tell the church, the church must keep on praying’. Because Zambia has got so many man-made prophets, they will prophesy but those who are genuine when praying are simply asking God but asking God for what? What is wrong in a Christian nation to come out and say that the Head of State is unwell and he has gone for medical checkup, it will take this long? And we already know it’s South Africa, there was no secret in that but give us updates on daily or weekly basis,” he said.
“If Trump entered hospital today and power was transferred to the Vice-President…we will know when Tramp entered hospital, we will know the procedure, how long it will last and we will know when he will be discharged and take over power. And as a former British colony, when the Prime Minister is in hospital, the same thing we will know, you cannot keep the people of Zambia in the dark. Moreover, we are still broken because we are still mourning president Michael Chilufya Sata. No one was told the truth to the end and when he flew out of the country, that was the end of him and when coming back he was in a coffin…these are the things we do not want a repetition of. It is important, let the nation know. In fact, since we call it a Christian nation, his physician, in South Africa or in Zambia, should come out and say the President is not around but this is the problem. His sickness is my concern, is your concern, it is the concern of the entire nation.”
Bishop Mambo said no one wanted to lose a Head of State.
“We all want our President to live as many of us are saying; what we are going through? We wish Sata had lived but we were never given that position of praying directly for what was troubling him – what the president suffered from to the end,” he said.
“Maybe close family members knew but when you are in politics or you are in public life, I am not my own, people want to know what underwear I am putting on, what food I eat, they want to know how I live with people while others will even gossip and make stories but that’s what public life is.”
Bishop Mambo explained that updates on the President’s health would lessen speculation and halt panic in the hearts of many Zambians.
“The moment you take up that position…Trump today they are talking about his involvement with Russia, Zambia knows but our own we do not know. Let me give you an example of Mulongoti, he is in hospital and it was in the papers. The Ministry of Health came and the President said send him to South Africa so we will be praying for Mulongoti because we know he is not well and was at UTH but we will not talk about his sickness for no one, including myself, shall ever rejoice in the sickness of anybody,” he said. “But when I am unwell, I John Mambo, as long as you call me a public figure, whatever classification you want to give me, people want to know what I am suffering from. If they conclude I have HIV/AIDS let them be, whether I have Sugar [diabetes] or what, people want to know. So the problem I have myself is that we are not handling the Presidency the way it should be handled. There should be some people who are bold enough to [tell the President]; ‘Your Excellency, You are the property of the people.’ Honourable [High Commissioner Emmanuel] Mwamba in South Africa gave us updates when there was a bus accident in South Africa, how many people died, what happened etc but why shouldn’t he now? The example was Mandela; they even made arrangements in an event something happens ahead of time.”
Bishop Mambo said sickness was for everybody.
“We must be told what is wrong with the Republican President because if it was other economies we would have seen the Kwacha dancing, the sickness of the President is an issue, he is Zambia one, he is family number one. Are we trying to enter the bedroom of the President? No. But to avoid speculation, to avoid this gossip simply come out. If it’s not the physician or Amos Chanda the spokesperson, someone should be giving us updates on how well our President is,” said Mambo.
Asked on when the President would return to the country, Chanda said he would do so after the medical reviews.
Told that people were saying reviews do not take long, Chanda said he will stick to his earlier announcement that the Head of State will travel to South Africa for a consultative meeting and later undergo medical examinations.
“We are going to make an announcement when he is finished with the medical review. For now we are staying by the statement I issued that he will go to South Africa, have a consultative meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa after that he was going to attend hospital for routine annual medical reviews. When those medical reviews are over, the President will return to the country,” Chanda said.
When he was asked to explain why the review had taken long, Chanda responded, “I will not respond to anything, the statement remains that the President will go to South Africa, attend the summit, attend the Hospital for medical review and when the medical review are over, he will return to the country.”
Asked if the president was indeed in South Africa, Chanda said “We don’t change, if he leaves South Africa we will tell you.”
Chanda further said there was no requirement for him to be with the President in South Africa as he undergoes the said review.
“Is there a requirement that I should be in South Africa? Am I his doctor? The President is with his doctors and also his doctors in South Africa, he has his local doctors and his…it’s a medical review,” said Chanda.