PATRIOTS for Economic Progress president Sean Tembo says mental illness is just like any other illness and must not be stigmatised.
He says the matter of the President’s mental fitness needs to be addressed in a sober and candid manner, without emotional inclinations whatsoever.
Responding to public views and opinions regarding his statement questioning President Edgar Lungu’s mental state given what he called many irrational decisions, Tembo said PeP stood by its earlier assertions.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we have noted the various views and opinions expressed by the general public regarding our earlier assertion that the Republican President, His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu is possibly suffering from a mental illness, which might be the primary cause of his various irrational national decisions in the recent past. We wish to categorically state that we stand firm by our earlier assertions,” he said yesterday.
He argued that according to article 107 of the Republican Constitution, there was a provision and guidance on the procedures that must be followed if the Head of State was suspected of suffering from a debilitating mental illness.
“It must be noted that mental illness is just like any other illness and must not be stigmatised. As a matter of fact, the national prevalence of mental illness in Zambia is currently about four per cent of the general population and a whooping 13 per cent of the adult male population. It is on this basis that the framers of the Republican Constitution took into account the possibility that a person elected to the position of Republican President might suffer a mental illness during their tenure,” Tembo said.
He said recently PeP noted certain poor decisions made by President Lungu, which were too grave to be attributed to incompetence alone, but that they actually bordered on mental illness or incapacity.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we have been closely monitoring the quality of official decisions that have been made by the Republican President, His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, ever since he took office in February of 2015. We have also been consistently pointing out any poor decisions made by the President, which we usually attribute to incompetence,” Tembo said adding, “A case in point is the decision by the Republican President to purchase a brand new Gulfstream G650 private jet for himself using approximately K900 million of taxpayers money, and yet he is failing to pay salaries for his employees in the civil service, local government and parastatal bodies. Another case in point is the decision by the Republican President to send his wife on a meaningless trip to the United States of America to go and receive used second hand fire trucks, with an exaggerated entourage of 25 personnel including maids and cleaners, as if US hotels do not have cleaners, for a prolonged period of about two weeks, using millions of Kwacha of taxpayers money, and yet the majority of peasant farmers who supplied their maize to his Government in the last farming season have not been paid.”
Tembo demanded that President Lungu be subjected to a mental exam for purposes of determining his mental fitness as guided by article 107 of the Constitution.
“On the basis of the foregoing, we in the Patriots for Economic Progress demand, as we hereby do, that President Lungu be subjected to a mental exam for purposes of determining his mental fitness, and consequent suitability to continue holding the office of Republican President, as guided by article 107 of the Republican Constitution,” Tembo said. “If indeed the President is mentally sick as we strongly suspect, then he needs to be afforded appropriate medical assistance and therapy so that he could make a full recovery. However, if the medical exam determines that contrary to our suspicions, the President is actually mentally fit and that his consistent poor decisions are in-fact not premised on any mental disorder but merely incompetence, then the President will resume his duties. But at least our fears and those of the majority of our citizens that the President might be mentally ill, will be arrayed.”
He said PeP would soon writing to UPND, who have representation in Parliament, requesting them to consider laying a motion in the House for President Lungu to be subjected to a mental exam.
“If the motion meets Parliamentary approval, as we expect it, then the Chief Justice will be compelled to institute a medical board to inquire into the mental capacity of the Republican President, within seven days, as provided for by article 107(4) of the Republican Constitution,” Tembo said.
He said the matter of the President’s mental fitness needed to be addressed in a sober and candid manner, without emotional inclinations whatsoever.
“We wish to emphasise that our position on this matter should not be misconstrued to mean that we disrespect the Republican President in any way. If in the quest to put across our case, we inadvertently disrespected the President in anyway, then we apologise in advance. However, we firmly believe that the matter of the President’s mental fitness needs to be addressed in a sober and candid manner, without emotional inclinations whatsoever.”