By Dr Munyonzwe Hamalengwa
The loud noise of iron metal door banging loudly against metal roused him from his troubled sleep. He flung his lanky upper body up. He had on a cold sweating white Tshirt clinging to his body. Through the white curtains at the far end of his room, he could see steel metal bars. He let out a horsy loud cry, “Oh my God, oh my God”.
Esther came out of the washroom rushing towards Edgar.
Esther: Edgar what is it?
Edgar Chagwa Lungu: Esther I had that recurring nightmare again that I was in prison. I woke up with a start and those metal bars looked like those bars in Prisoners’ cells. And I heard a loud noise like a prison door closing. Esther this nightmare was so real. You see, people dream a lot about the past but this is about the future. It is like I can foretell my future. Esther it is scary.
Esther: This dream has been with you for sometime.
Edgar got out of bed and sauntered to the window. He opened the curtains. It was a bright sunny morning outside. He looked up and could see the beautiful Table Mountain not far from his hotel in Cape Town. He was not in prison. He was in a beautiful hotel in Cape Town. He remembered he and Esther and others had landed last night to attend a conference at the Cape Town Convention Centre. The Conference was entitled “Africa’s Last Stand Against the International Criminal Court”.
Edgar: Esther I wonder if this nightmare has anything to do with the theme of the conference. This ICC thing is targeting African leaders. Given Lubinda surveyed Zambians and they overwhelmingly supported the idea that we remain in the ICC. And I have to report at this session about Zambia’s reaction to Africa’s fear.
Esther: You need counselling Edgar. You should discretely ask your friends if there are any therapists they know who can help with allaying that recurring nightmare Edgar. It is affecting my life too.
Edgar started laughing.
Edgar: Esther, do you know what kind of friends I have? These are hard skinned, toughened political operatives some of whom fought Guerrilla wars and a bullet could be expected any minute from anywhere during their years. Do you think Jacob Zuma is the type of person who can seek counselling? He avoided bullets from the agents of Apartheid throughout his life. Counselling is the last thing on his mind. Look at Kagame and Museveni. They fought in the bush for years, expecting to be killed any moment. They don’t know the word counselling. They will think I am a crybaby. I never suffered for my country. They did. Look at Joseph Kabila with whom I will be having a private coffee session immediately upon arrival at the conference, he allegedly killed his father, he doesn’t seem to have any nightmares.
Esther: Then what do you suggest you do because I get troubled every time you have these nightmares and they seem to be getting worse and worse as time goes on. Tell me what was involved in this one Edgar. I will hear you as I make the coffee. Do you want a massage first or I just make the coffee. Maybe you should do your treadmill as well. It is right at the corner there. You also didn’t finish your Jameson last night. What is going on Edgar?
Edgar: Sit down Esther. This nightmare was so real. The last words I heard before the clanking of the prison gate was Judge Banda-Bobo’s words and I remember the words clearly stating, “Accordingly, immunity is revoked and the various heads of charges against you will proceed”. Flashes of images jammed my brainwave in competition for prominence. I saw the Image of Chiluba sitting alone in the accused’s box in court and that image is on the cover of Richard Sakala’s book on Chiluba. Chiluba who had all these friends was sitting alone in the prisoner’s box Esther. There was also a similar picture of Zuma sitting alone in the prisoner’s box after he left power. Alone Esther. Another book cover imposed itself with the title “Prosecuting Heads of States” and several heads of states were on the cover, including Charles Taylor, Saddam Hussein, Milesovic, Pinochet and others. But Esther, the most disturbing was a flash of an article on the front page of The Post newspaper and I could see the date clearly, April 27, 2015 and it blared,”Lungu Won’t Escape: His Immunity Will Be Lifted Immediately He Leaves Office-UPND”. You see why I closed The Post, Esther. They were a formidable enemy. The Post destroyed Rupiah Banda. The Post emboldened Michael Sata. They helped him win the Presidency. They were going to spoil my victory in 2016. Regarding the UPND, they are so stupid, how do you disclose to your enemy what you are going to do to them when you replace them? I had to….
Esther puts her finger to her mouth as if zipping the mouth, as she is looking at Edgar.
Esther: Edgar, don’t start revealing all that information. This hotel room could be bugged. The South Africans are much more friendly to HH you know. Be guarded. Don’t vent now. Shish Shishi Shishi.
Edgar: I am not revealing any information about the killing of any political opponent though the thought has occurred to me. And I have rejected some advice from some of my political advisors to start killing political opponents. Zambians don’t kill. If there is any legacy that our founding fathers left us with is not to kill political opponents. You could isolate them in jail like I tried to do with HH. Nkumbula and Kapwepwe were not killed. Chiluba was not killed. Sata was not killed by Mwanawasa or RB. I won’t kill HH. I will use other means. I have already used other means.
Esther again motions by way of zipping her mouth.
Esther: Stop that Edgar, if you lose your immunity in future, they could use the evidence that they will gather from this room.
Edgar: Esther, I am not revealing to you any criminality. Right now I am immune from any civil or criminal prosecutions here in South Africa and in Zambia. I was just going to tell you so that you don’t lose sleep at night. I have already fixed HH. Legally that is. I appointed Irene Mambilima as Chief Justice immediately after she announced my victory in 2015. She was not going to rule against me in any future election. But I changed tactics and reorganized the judiciary and changed the constitution. I appointed all the new judges, hand picked them qualified or not qualified. Do you think handpicked judges who don’t go through the rigorous vetting process like that of Kenya and South Africa can overrule the President? There is no decision Esther that this government has lost since appointing all these judges. I also removed the DPP Mutembo Nchito who posed danger to my office. Almost all appointments across the Board that I have made are from either the Northern or Eastern parts of the country. I may have made some from outside these areas to mislead or as accidents.
Esther: Edgar now you are talking. That is my man. You are not as stupid as people think you are. Why do you think I married you? Brilliant. Sometimes you scare me with your careless statements at airports. I can’t figure that one out Edgar, do you get carried away when you see a plane? But it is very good you have never sat down to give a press conference and then to be, what word can I use, cross-examined by the press? Trump gives a lot of those press conferences. I used to like Obama’s press conferences. I think you should start doing that Edgar. After all these years in power, you now have a vision. But how Zambians voted for you after admitting you had no vision mystifies me. And how they still live you without giving any cross-examined press conferences to show your grasp of Zambian realities bamboozles me.
Edgar: Esther, I told you that we are safe and I have fixed everything. Tasila doesn’t call me The Fixer for nothing. What I fix is permanent. I fixed the 2015 and 2016 elections. They may in future find where we buried the UPND votes but it won’t then matter. This KBF fellow is a danger if he writes a book about how I fixed the elections.
Esther: On that, I completely agree. Pour it out my Man.
Edgar: You see with the Presidential Election Petition, when I saw that I may lose, I took the advice of the lawyers and Chilufya Tayali and closed the court on a so-called technicality. I could have lost that Petition and I would be in a jail cell somewhere. The same with the 3rd term, we knew Simbyakula messed up the drafting of the Amendments. We knew it prohibited me from running again. It is clear. When I saw that I could lose that, I appointed Musaluke as the 7th Constitutional Court Judge to rescue me. Are you with me Esther? And you know what? We are the sponsors of the case that decided the 3rd term but we let the lackeys, some so-called opposition parties that in fact we have created and sponsored them to move the court. But we started it. The same thing we have done with the National Dialogue Forum. We told Given Lubinda to start talking about lacunas in the constitution that we needed to refine. And most respectable organisations joined the bandwagon of refining the constitution. We hired some student cadres and political rejects and look at where we are now. On the verge of changing the constitution in our own image! Look even at the KCM/Vedanta liquidation case. I have already pronounced that we will liquidate the company and sell it to the highest bidder and we pay some debts. Every judge knows what I want. You see when The Post and Hansungule used to say that whatever Edgar wants, Edgar gets, they are right.
Esther: We discussed all that Edgar with some of your colleagues. Edgar, you are so good at using the law, what do you call it, arms-length or what? The law talks but you are there manipulating it behind closed doors. Edgar, I am so proud of you. You don’t have to use force, kill or poison people as some of your advisors want. You have learnt a lot Edgar from Museveni and Kagame. You are more subtle and smoother than them. Edgar there was this song I used to like by a Black Nigerian-British singer Sade called “smooth operator”. You and I used to like that song, Smooth Operator. You can’t catch a smooth criminal Edgar. No fingerprints at the scene of the crime. Edgar I think you should teach at Harvard after leaving power. I think we should spend several years in Eastern United States later.
Edgar: That is it Esther, but I am not done with power yet. I am staying till 2026. By that time, no one will still be talking about stripping me of my immunity. There will be a one party state by then through this NDF that I gave created. The UPND will be moribund by then. Kambwili will be in jail. HH will be heading his by then over 1 million cows all over Zambia and totally uninterested in politics. They allege that I have stated that a Tonga will one day be president but not HH. Esther did I say that? I don’t remember. I say a lot of things at airports before boarding a plane to escape being questioned by reporters. I am like Reagan, I have to be protected from my own mouth otherwise I will state the truth as I know it.
Esther: I look forward to living in the US, Edgar. The trips I have made are too short. I want a big break and walk around incognito Edgar. We have made our money. Our children don’t have to work a day in their lives. Edgar let’s leave in 2021. Hand over power to Davies Chama. He will take care of your legacy. There is no one else, is there? Davies Mwila would split the country. I have my own fears Edgar. It is better to leave power on your own motion and volition and not be pushed out like Mugabe or Mbeki and Zuma. Emulate Mandela Edgar.
Edgar: Esther there are some people who don’t want me to leave because they benefit tremendously. This power doesn’t belong to me alone. I am beholden to people. Look at the 48 houses that have no owner. How can that be in a country like Zambia where houses are accounted for? The ACC can’t find an owner. All these people and more depend on my Presidency to cover such implausibles. I am under pressure to fire the entire ACC to save face. I have gut feelings that these 48 houses will backfire mightly in the future. This is not sitting well with Zambians. They think the houses are mine or our children’s or yours or some political operative acting under my superintendency.
Esther: I have been following that story. No one, not even the ACC agrees with what has happened. Someone will eventually talk Edgar. It is scary Edgar.
Edgar: But something deeper is worrying me Esther. This nightmare I had this night. It was so real. I dreamt that Siyunji the DPP that I appointed had recommended that I be denied bail. She said I was a flight risk, that I had a private jet, that I had plenty of money, land, houses and friends abroad. She pointed out specific places and friends, Museveni, Kagame, The King of ESwatini. She said because of my money, I would interfere with witnesses and obstruct justice. She said I was a danger to the safety and security of Zambia. She played a tape which stated that I once said the following “we didn’t get the vote in 2015, we didn’t get the vote in 2016 but we are still here. If we don’t get the vote in 2021 we are not moving out”. She said I was plotting rebellion and have committed Treason by allegedly rigging the election of 2016. She said I should have long been impeached for breaching the constitution severally by refusing to step down and handing over power when there was a Presidential Election Petition filed, by threatening judges in my speech at Solwezi airport and by commenting on matters still before the Court. She said I am a Tribalist-in-Chief and my Tribalist statements can lead deranged PF cadres to start committing genocide particularly against the Tonga. She said a lot of things in there. She applied for stripping of my immunity and immediately the judge stripped my immunity I heard the prison gate close with the bang CLANK, which woke me up. Esther she was reading a document marked, The People versus Edgar Chagwa Lungu. I saw it clearly.
Esther: Edgar, you are The Fixer. Nothing is impossible with you.
Edgar: Esther. In the dream, I couldn’t get hold of any lawyer. They all gave excuses. I am thinking of representing myself.
Esther starts laughing at the mention of self-representation by Edgar.
Esther: If this nightmare becomes reality in the future, Edgar don’t represent yourself? What do they say: a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? Edgar, you can’t give a press conference with all the briefings you get and you are not in custody, how could you possibly represent yourself from a jail cell? Spare the country the drama. Let’s leave in 2021 without being pushed. It is not too late to emulate Mandela.
Edgar: Esther I am scared of the title of the proceedings I saw in the dream: The People versus Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
Dr Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches Criminal Law and the Law of Evidence.