The long article on Zambia that appeared in the Financial Times of the UK sums up very correctly the challenges the country faces under the leadership of Edgar Lungu and his Patriotic Front. The article, under the headline “LUNGU-THE MAKINGS OF AN AFRICAN DICTATOR”, gives a very good analysis of the situation in Zambia that no honesty person can easily dismiss. Indeed Edgar has the markings of a brutal African dictator with no moderation or restraint.
As the Financial Times puts it, those who could not understand what type of a leader Edgar was now should know that he is nothing but a tinpot dictator.
Edgar is reckless and unyielding. He always wants to have the last word on everything happening in the country. This not a recipe for good governance; it is a clear route to tyranny.
With the legal and political manoeuvring he has made, it is now not in doubt that Edgar will go for a third term – he will contest presidential elections for the third time. Like all dictators, Edgar has manipulated the courts, the constitution amendment process and the politics of the country to give himself a third term of office. Will he succeed? Yes. But at a very high political, economic cost to the country. Edgar has virtually reduced the country to a dictatorship for him to continue in power. The democratic space for the opposition and civil society in general has shrunk under Edgar. He has made it impossible for the opposition to meaningfully organise and mobilise public support. Using the police, Edgar has managed to stop opposition meetings, assemblies and protests.
Edgar wants to create a situation where there will be no meaningful opposition to him in the 2021 elections.
Through abuse of the police and the courts, Edgar is able to stifle any opposition to his rule. These are the most potent weapons dictators use to suppress dissent and opposition to their rule.
The conclusion to the Financial Times article states: “The Patriotic Front and Lungu are struggling…How will Lungu, deal with a powerful new challenge in the form of uncertainty in the Copperbelt – especially if elsewhere, he is still struggling to deal with unpaid salaries, the newly re-introduced power load shedding, and it becomes clear to the electorate that debt will force a post-election crisis? The last thing that Zambia needs is an unstable Copperbelt, as this has been the Achilles’ heel for previous ruling parties that has caused regime change. The callous disregard for morality and procedure in the handling of Vedanta’s KCM saga could be the last trigger that sets the country off on a long and perilous path to dilapidation. Indeed, the hard lessons to be learned from these developments is in fact, a warning; that financial recklessness has a price.
What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not Edgar can defy logic and pass the final test on his way to establish the latest edition, in a long line of African authoritarian leaders, who stop at nothing, are neither moved nor shaken by the sufferings of their people that their decisions bring, and are hell bent on clinging on to power by whatever means and at whatever cost. Welcome to Edgar Lungu’s Zambia, The Real Africa. At this stage, it is not clear who such a challenger might be, or if anyone can mobilise national support to take on an incumbent prepared to use state resources in his campaign.”
Zambia must brace themselves for very difficult times ahead. Things are already bad, difficult but they are very likely to get worse.