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Chagwa’s defeat

EDGAR Chagwa Lungu has fallen. It was expected. An overwhelming tonne of bricks – in form of electoral vote – has downed the man who had pledged to hand over power to himself – well he has reaped the whirlwind. What an enigma!

He lived his political life like a candle in the wind. He refused to accept that he was an elected president and not a monarch.

In March 1966, Dr Kenneth Kaunda warned about this kind of leadership, when he said, “We must think and think again how best we shall serve and not about how important we are as leaders of our people, or how we can safeguard our own positions as leaders. Why must we? Don’t we hold these posts in trust for our people? We must remember we are not elected kings, and that if we believe so much in the importance of man, we must not devise artificial methods of bottling his feelings. On the other hand, those who elected us and those who are our advisers must help us leaders by not doing things that will go to our heads to make us falsely feel that we were superhuman.”

Edgar cared less about service – he was an alpha and omega. These were his own words and his posture was all about that – self-preservation and aggrandisement!

He ascended to PF leadership through a violent party ‘conference’ and violence of the mouth and physical one became the hallmark of his administration. But we warned him on several occasions that everything can change. That history is a very complex thing but he refused to read our country’s electoral history. But who knew his defiance was only as watertight as a sand castle – he had just one vote! How many times did we remind him of the Dalai Lama teaching that, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”?

Edgar’s loss is nothing but a strong referendum – an indictment – on his belligerent rule. A rebuke of his misrule. A rejection of his Patriotic Front that became wholly arrogant and corrupt. High-ranking party leaders were unleashed to perpetuate hate speech, tribalism, regionalism – above all creating mistrust everywhere. Divide and rule became an epitome of the regime.

They ratcheted unnecessary tension and political violence. His administration went to lengths destroying institutions of governance. Edgar had no sense of contrition – he wanted to bulldoze his way all the time. He forgot the timely adage that you cannot applaud with one hand! He carried himself as a know-it-all man. He had this stubborn, a strange, belief in the efficacy of his approach and the tempting feeling that he might be untouchable until Thursday’s vote knocked him in first round! Not even the long stick he claimed he carried and boasted about could protect him.

He stepped on too many toes – both in his party and outside it. He even possesses an infamous record of having closed many news media in a shortest space of time.

He never learnt from any of his numerous misdeeds or wrong executive decisions.

John F Kennedy once stated that, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other…Life is never easy. There is work to be done and obligations to be met – obligations to truth, to justice, and to liberty.”

As they say there’s a time for everything. Edgar has now returned to civilian life. It is his season to reflect on his rule and we hope he made choices that he can live with!

Over the years, Edgar failed in a dozen areas. He failed on the corruption fight front. Edgar failed on inclusivity and tribal balancing. He also failed on the economic front – he actually sent our economy into the ditch while boasting about borrowing. Edgar failed on the rule of law front. Your greatest failure was on the Constitution that you signed in 2016 that created a lot of trouble and raised tension in our peaceful homeland. You failed on the front of maintaining an orderly society. You abused our police and created mistrust between law enforcers and the citizens!

We experienced such political disorder like never before. You failed to control and to discipline your own cadres. These were let to break, kill, humiliate Zambians who did not agree with you. Innocent blood was spilled all through your presidency by individuals who were fighting for you and your political party, the PF. Law enforcement officers were turned into servants of your cadres, they had no say. You did not prevail over them, you failed to control them. Your social and political sin bag is overflowing. You also did not prove to be frugal in your dealings. The sudden rise of his riches, in circumstances that are unclear or unexplained, still confound many. Clearly, Edgar proved a divisive character. But who could imagine the speed of his descent? Now he departs from the presidency leaving behind the country in socio-economic mess.

Yes, he must be hurting that he has lost this way considering the stakes – he invested heavily in this election!

He was warned against imposing himself on the ballot for an illegal – unconstitutional – third term. He did sow the seeds that have produced only weeds!

He has met the wall. People rose and people always achieve great things once they are determined, disciplined and dedicated to a cause.

The 2016 pyrrhic victory must have taught him something – that he had won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile of the victor.

For now, he can seek solace in John F Kennedy’s words that, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

Yes, Edgar gambled with the country’s future and he also wore his heart on the sleeves at times. He was good at nourishing hurt.

But we urge the incoming government to treat the Patriotic Front leadership with humanity that they denied others. Let justice be the bedrock of our nationhood. Let peace, unity and inclusion be the anchors upon which any policy and programme would be promulgated and executed.