Edgar Lungu is creating many unnecessary problems and veritable chaos for himself. In a very short space of time as dictator, he has created more enemies for himself than Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Fredrick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda put together ever did. Why is this so? Why does Edgar need so many enemies? Is this good for him?
This definitely, in itself, tells a big story about Edgar and his presidency. Wherever one turns, there are people who are very angry, bitter with Edgar. Edgar has many enemies within his own party. The number of people within the Patriotic Front who see Edgar as an enemy is increasing at an exponential rate.
Today, there are people in Edgar’s government whom he has given jobs but still view him negatively and as an enemy. Outside the Patriotic Front and its government, the situation is worse – almost all see him as an enemy. The main source of all this is Edgar’s own conduct and attitude towards others; his intolerance, ruthlessness and tyranny.
It would seem Edgar’s main preoccupation as President of the Republic is crushing “like a tonne of bricks” those he doesn’t like, those who don’t bow to him and recognise him as the emperor of Zambia. He is all the time looking for people to categorise as enemies and chase them around like rats. Even a lion takes a break from hunting and chasing around other animals. A close look at those very close to Edgar and occupying key positions in his party and government reveals a thread of unbridled intolerance, cruelty, violence and lies linking them to each other. And these are his hunting pack, barking at everyone they suspect not to be supportive of their emperor. They don’t even realise or accept the fact that this is a multi-party and plural political dispensation and not an empire, a kingdom. For them, everyone, including those in the opposition, should support and accept Edgar as the country’s supreme leader – Ayatollah Lungu.
Edgar and his minions are spending a disproportionate amount of their time talking about these enemies they are every day creating for themselves and how to crush them instead of how to improve the lives of the 16.2 millions Zambians, of whom over 60 per cent live far below the poverty line. Edgar has surrounded himself with the most intolerant, crooked and violent characters.
Look at the backgrounds of those who surround him! Katondo Street! Rough and violent characters! Well-known crooks, thugs! Edgar is writing a history of intolerance, cruelty, tyranny, dictatorship for himself.
Today, Edgar may feel very powerful and safe because of his control of state power. But this will not last forever. No one owns state power. He may think sending those scavengers around him to do the dirty jobs will save his neck when the time to account comes, but it won’t! When Edgar leaves power, no one will remember Kaizar Zulu, Kakoma Kanganja, Stephen Kampyongo and all those cruel police and intelligence officers he is using to crush others. It is Edgar they will take to task. The buck will stop at him. No one will remember what his aides are doing in his name. It is Edgar who will be at the centre of every wrong thing being done under his regime.
Edgar is fond of denying responsibility. ‘It’s not me, it’s the police! It’s not me, it’s the Zambia Revenue Authority! It’s not me, it’s the courts!” he would retort in an attempt to run away from taking direct responsibility for the actions of his regime. But before long, he forgets and starts to defend the same actions he claimed he had no hand in. But true leaders don’t behave in this way. True leaders are those who refuse to go down the all too common road which is paved by abdication of responsibility, and even go as far as to ensure that those around them don’t attempt to shift blame either. The true leader accepts the situation as it is now and further accepts that he is fully responsible for the end result. They relish in this challenge — they know that excuses, or shifting blame in any way, will diminish their ability to lead, because of the loss of respect they will get as a result of placing blame, and not accepting that they were put in the position they are now in because others believed they could get things to where they needed to be, regardless of the challenges.
There’s no way Edgar is going to manage to evade responsibility by passing it on to someone else. Edgar can delegate authority to Kaizar, Kanganja or Kampyongo, but not responsibility. They say, ‘If you mess up, face up.’ Nothing good comes from hiding in the shadows. Hiding behind titles to create security is insecurity, self-deception and myopia. If you let other people do it for you, they will in the end do it to you.
As John Stuart Mill wrote, “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for injury.” Good men are bound by conscience and liberated by accountability. Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions. Mahatma Gandhi said, It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. It is said that a duty dodged is like a debt unpaid; it is only deferred, and we must come back and settle the account at last.
The sooner Edgar realises that the problem of his presidency is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use, the better it will be for him. At the rate Edgar is creating enemies, his ending will be a very, very sad one.