Open and Copied Letter to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu:
Mr. President, you are President of Zambia because of the democracy that we enjoy in Zambia that we fought so hard for and because of the tolerance towards you, of the Zambian people. The least you can do for Zambia and Zambians is to respect and leave intact the very institutions that you found, institutions and people that enabled you to become a President and without which you would have amounted to nothing.
Mr. President, you never fought for the independence of Zambia and you never fought for the removal of the One Party Dictatorship. It is because we removed colonialism and President Kaunda, and it is because Presidents Frederick Chiluba and Rupiah Banda didn’t cling to power but respected the will of the people, that you became President after the death of the beloved Michael Chilufya Sata. These leaders respected the continuation of the processes that brought them into power. Although they were pained at losing power, they decided to respect the processes of democracy.
I can understand though I cannot excuse the behaviour of first generation leaders like Kaunda, Kenyatta, Obote, Mugabe etc who felt that they personally owned these countries because they fought for them and in the process suffering indignities and sometimes imprisonment. At least they sacrificed. On the other hand, you Mr. President never sacrificed anything and you are enjoying the fruits of other people’s sweat. Power was handed to you on a Silver Platter, indeed as an accidental President.
And if Sata didn’t die, you probably would never have become President, ever.
People like Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda can also claim understandably though inexcusably their clinging to power because they actually sacrificed their lives to the struggle for democracy, justice and human rights in their countries. You have nothing to show for it.
I myself can even claim to be more entitlement and demand to enjoy the democracy Zambia offers because I fought variably against the One Party Dictatorship. I did not fight for Independence but my parents and relatives did so.
The reasons why it has become so urgent for me to personally write you this letter which will be copied to many people and institutions, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the African Union, SADC, the Speaker of the House in Zambia, the leaders of the main opposition in Zambia and so forth are simple:
1. I heard an Audio Tape with your distinct voice where you say something along the following lines, “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”. What exactly do you intend to do and what exactly did you do in 2015 and 2016? Did you rig the votes? Are you planning a coup from above? Do you intend to cause bloodshed in Zambia by your contemplated actions? Imagine if Kaunda, Chiluba and Banda did what you have threatened! You wouldn’t be President now. They gave way so that you could come along. Why do you think you are qualified to be a permanent President of Zambia when you never sacrificed anything for the independence of Zambia and those that did, gave way to the imperatives of democracy?
That audio tape must be circulating in some media houses. What I distinctly heard was your voice and I don’t think I was mistaken. Many other people have verified hearing the words to the same effect.
2. You have been reported to have said at least two times that Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema will never be President of Zambia. Why is that? Some people were saying the same thing about Michael Sata. Did he not become President? In fact, in regards to you, nobody ever expected you to become President of Zambia. In respect of HH, is it because of his tribe as some of your lieutenants have said, without any rebuke from you. Do you intend to kill all Tongas? Do you intend to kill HH? Do you intend to engineer a coup from above if he wins? Do you intend to rig the elections, presumably again since you stated in the audio tape that you didn’t get the vote in 2015 and 2016 and if you don’t get the vote in 2021, you are not moving out? Kaunda, Chiluba and Banda gave way but you intend not to give way even when you became President because your predecessors honoured the institutions of democracy! Paradoxical in the least.
You Mr President are reported to be a devout Christian who believes in the notion that Presidents as leaders, are chosen by God. Who says, other than God, that HH cannot be President of Zambia? Are you now God or are you second-guessing or preempting God? According to your religion and beliefs, isn’t it only God who can choose a leader? You were presumably chosen by God, why can’t HH, or Kambwili, KBF or Kalaba be the chosen ones to take over from you as President?
However, I do not believe that Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, the leaders of slavery, colonialism and apartheid were chosen by God. I do not believe that the coup leaders and election riggers are appointed by God. That is banal nonsense and God is on my side on this one. Evil is concoction of the human will and action and must never be justified in Christian or religious terms.
3. Mr. President, you have stated as reported by the media that people can vote you out, but it is impossible to vote out the PF. I know Kaizer Zulu is reported to have told you that you are dispensable but not the PF, that you could as an individual be let loose so that the PF can continue to rule and that your leadership is a liability. I do not know the veracity of these conversations but I read them in the press. Is your reported statement the justification for the view that the PF will be ruling beyond 2021? Do you intend to rig the elections? Do you intend to bring in legislation like Bill 10 to perpetuate the PF rulership? Has God revealed to anyone in PF the bonafides or provenance of this statement and belief? In 1974, Ian Smith of Rhodesia stated clearly that African Rule will not come for a thousand years. But six years later, Robert Mugabe was the leader of Zimbabwe. Ian Smith perhaps forgot to consult God as he was reportedly a devout Christian?
4. There was so much violence in the just concluded elections on Chilubi island. Will that be the pattern of the 2021 elections? Has that been sanctioned by God to keep the PF and you Mr. president, in perpetual power? President JFK of the United States once stated this historical and inexorable truth: “those who prevent peaceful change, make violent change inevitable”. This may come to pass in Zambia if you permit, provoke and indulge in violence against the tenets of democracy, rule of law and human rights.
I thought I should raise these important questions calmly as we live in a democracy and I fully participated in the struggle to free Zambia from One Party State Dictatorship to multiparty democracy that enabled you to become President. I am entitled to raise any question I deem important in the interests of Zambia and Zambian democracy.
Mr President, I am aware that the incentive to remain in power is to prevent the inevitable accounting that visits all Presidents who are alleged to have abused their powers. In Latin America, all Presidents who abused their powers since the dawn of democracy in the 1990s have been arrested, charged and if convicted, imprisoned. As have some of their relatives. Right now the former President of Ecuador is on criminal trial for abuse of power. In Africa, a lot of former leaders like Marcias Nguema, Zuma of South Africa, Chiluba of Zambia, Banda of Zambia and others who did not flee into exile, were put on trial. That is the incentive to cling to power. It is an understandable human impulse. There is an easy way out of that quagmire: foster the rule of law and democracy, don’t perpetuate tribalism, violence and impunity while you have a chance because the end always comes to all leaders, no matter how powerful they may think they are or have actually been. Dos Santos’ daughter in Angola has had all her bank accounts frozen after being the richest woman in Africa, her once powerful father cannot step foot back in Angola after ruling for 38 years; Mugabe lost power after years of invincibility; Idi Amin died in exile as did Mobutu, Nkrumah and many others. The way Gaddaffi and Saddam Hussein died was atrocious. But others who abided by the rule of law are walking and travelling freely: Obasanjo, Rawlings of Ghana, Goodluck of Nigeria, Kikwete of Tanzania, Nujoma of Namibia, Mbeki of South Africa etc. Mr. President, there is life after the Presidency.
If God chose me to be President of Zambia, I would simply request the return of all looted monies and properties in exchange for immunity from prosecution. There would under my regime be new prosecutors who will hunt all looted Zambian wealth around the world and within Zambia and given back to Zambians; there will be brand new Judges who will adjudicate all cases impartially; there will be a brand new police force; brand new investigative institutions and a return to a brand new, One Zambia, One Nation where merit will be the rule of thumb with positive affirmative action for women and the disabled as well as the least educated and all shanty compounds will be torn down and replaced with modern buildings and all rural dwellers will be empowered like KK tried to do in the sixties and early seventies.
Mr. president, this is a democracy. I have spoken and I expect a reply. This letter will be copied to the institutions and people that I listed above, so that it can never be stated by you Mr. President or anyone else that, “we did not know what was happening”.
Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa is the author among others of: 1. Thoughts Are Free: Prison Experience and Reflections on Law and Politics in General, 2. Class Struggles in Zambia, 1889-1989 and the Fall of Kenneth Kaunda, 1990-1991, 3. The Case Against Tribalism, and 4. The International Law of Human Rights in Africa.