SISHUWA Sishuwa says President Edgar Lungu does not listen to anyone, the only language he understands is defeat.
Reflecting on a Zambia beyond President Lungu, Dr Sishuwa, a historian and lecturer at the University of Zambia, said President Lungu does not care much about what the public says.
“Take a look at Lungu, for instance, he does not care much about what the public says. He is not someone one can negotiate or engage with. Once he has taken a position on something, that’s it. He won’t bulge no matter the opposition from anyone,” he said. “Despite massive opposition to the closure of The Post, one that even found legal expression through the tax tribunal, he did not capitulate. Same with Prime TV. The only language Lungu understands is defeat. Is such a person likely to relinquish power willingly even if he loses an election? I am not sure.”
He described the country as a fake theocracy which concealed the corruption of its leadership, among other vices.
Dr Sishuwa challenged Zambians to stop viewing their country as a state with a government and urged them to think beyond President Lungu.
“Perhaps the problem is that many imagine Zambia as a state with a government. That illusion must be shed. Zambia is an over indebted, corrupt but extremely profitable contraption of imperialism – the West and China extract interest on loans they know we will never repay in full and they have control over our strategic economic natural resources,” Dr Sishuwa said. “Zambia is a fake theocracy, which conceals the ineptitude and corruption of its leadership and lack of political vigilance and militancy of the general population. So far, the conversation on the post-Lungu Zambia idea has been attempted by the same old people ([Simon] Zukas, [Vernon Mwaaanga] VJ, [Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika] Aka and the like). I think it needs a younger generation.”
Dr Sishuwa asked young people to get angry with the situation and take up their place in society.
He implored people to imagine a society they wanted beyond President Lungu.
“Who would/could it consist of? As always, you need leadership. I think part of the problem is that the most prominent young people in parties have not carved out distinct ideas that speak to the younger base. It also does not help that the national leadership does not lend itself to alternative views or debate,” Dr Sishuwa said.
“But we must imagine a Zambia beyond Lungu, however he exits State House. We are not devising it for him. We want to look beyond. Post-Lungu, how will that look like? …We must carefully exercise our minds and imagine the kind of an alternative society we want for ourselves. What should a post-Lungu Zambia look like? Who should lead it and how? What are we to replace Lungu and his kleptomaniac ensemble with?”
Dr Sishuwa called for wide discussions on what leadership the nation wanted beyond President Lungu.
“How do we raise quality leaders with the vision and selflessness of [Dr Kenneth] Kaunda, the competence and willingness to be advised qualities of [Levy] Mwanawasa, the tenacity and diligence of [Micahel] Sata, the integrity of [Brigadier General Godfrey] Miyanda, the communication skills of [Frederick] Chiluba?” he asked. “I think there has been very little discussion on the required leadership and vision, for a post-Lungu Zambia. It’s important to create these conversations. Otherwise we risk going from the pan straight into the fire! This is the mistake we made with Kaunda: we were so determined to remove him from office, we forgot to also at the same time answer the question: how do we consolidate whatever good he may have done and override his mistakes and make out of all these a new future for ourselves?”
Dr Sishuwa said because people were preoccupied with removing Dr Kaunda in 1991 without considering his suitable successors, the nation has ended up in what it is today.
“The end result of all that today is Lungu! We need, in my view, a well organised core that can trigger a mass movement against Lungu. Such a core leadership needs to prepare to take over power. This implies that this core must share a vision of a post Lungu Zambia, founded on a common understanding of the key drivers of our crises, how to tackle them and where to take Zambia. This is not a smash train; it can be done,” Dr Sishuwa said.
He urged people to confront what he termed the demon of Zambia.
“We must confront the demon of Zambia. What is to be done? The rot, decay or destruction of the ‘post-colonial state’ are so visible, you have to have special political blindness not to see it. The fundamental question is: how do we turn the anger, frustration, despair and total collapse of any real faith in the ‘government’ to serve the masses into a revolutionary force for sweeping away the dying and giving birth to that which must be born?” Dr Sishuwa asked. “We are truly an ‘emerging state’. The cosmetic and fake Western/US post-colonial state collapsed quite some time ago. It has not delivered us either from our poverty nor has it even produced a shadow of evidence of its emancipatory dreams. Levels of internal and external indebtedness and poverty alone killed this monstrosity. The post “post” colonial state was aborted even before it was conceived. Chiluba is best remembered for the petty thievery and mass poverty he unleashed on the Zambian masses.”
He said a new state was struggling to be birthed and what “we have now is a criminal state”.
Dr Sishuwa bemoaned trivial matters that filled up public debate.
“Just listen to the contents of what passes for our national politics. It’s stuff like ‘HH doesn’t smile’, ‘Lungu is a mfwiti’, ‘M’membe is bitter’. The ability to make one’s political opponent look bad, really bad, is what counts. When are we going to talk about serious stuff that really matter?” Dr Sishuwa asked. “When are we going to have a serious discourse initiated and led by ourselves on what explains the country’s current position on the scale of progress, what it can do internally to develop, defining its own priorities and engaging with the rest of the world on its own terms? When are we going to question the suitability of the neo-liberal economic agenda or the existing approaches to economic and political development?”
He called for building of nationhood through reasonable media.
Dr Sishuwa further called for an establishment of political organisations that represented wider national considerations.
“We really need to create narratives of nationhood through available media that resonate on a very phenomenological level with the masses and which would need to be hopeful and tempered by a hard realism of all needing to pull together,” said Dr Sishuwa. “We need to establish political organisations which represent wider social and national considerations, not narrow sectional, and ethnic interests, and which have clear ideological visions, policies that are inward looking and visionary leaders who effect strategies for broad-based societal change and plan beyond their constitutionally- prescribed (presidential) mandates. Anyway, I must catch some sleep now. It is a good thing to sleep. It gives us some temporal escape from a painful world driven by want and fear. When we wake up, after a genuine good sleep, we may be recharged to confront the world anew.”