The past one week can best be described as a very difficult ‘undiplomatic’ diplomatic week for Dictator Edgar Lungu and his State House surrogates and Zambian Foreign Affairs officials.
Earlier in the week Mr Lungu had a rare bruising public tongue lashing and lecture on democracy and human rights, from Ghanaian President Akufo Addo, of all places at a sumptuous State Banquet, where Southen African Dictators normally lisp politically correct niceties while patting each other’s backs.
The West African leader gave a blistering speech bluntly reminding Lungu, “Africa is breeding a new generation of leaders who are committed to governing their peoples according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and the principles of democratic accountability”.
Mr Addo went on to state that he wouldn’t take sides on the current happenings in the country while sounding a rather sarcastic veiled assertion that Edgar Lungu only ‘won’ by a 100,000 votes to warrant such brutal dictatorship on his citizens.
This rather undiplomatic mission by the Ghanaian leader was followed by another of the papal envoy and one of the Vatican’s most senior diplomats in the region, the Apostolic Pro Nuncio Archbishop Julio Murat.
State House press corps grudgingly stammered a rare one sided communique stating, “The President and the Nuncio discussed a broad range of issues including the relationship between Church and State in promoting dialogue and National unity”.
“In line with his continued dialogue with the Church, the President will in the coming days be meeting with the Catholic Bishops to continue on the steps he authorised the Vice President”, read part of the statement.
Most observers view these moves by the two foreign leaders as a signal that diplomatic patience and etiquette has run out on Edgar Lungu’s way of doing things on the political crisis in Zambia. Others believe this is likely to open an avalanche of public criticisms of Mr Lungu by Zambia’s reluctant peers in the SADC region.
A few weeks ago three Church mother bodies which included the Catholic Bishops, released a strong worded statement where they made a declaration that Mr Edgar Lungu had become Africa’s newest dictator and that the Nation was in a full blown brutal dictatorship.
The release of the Church communique coincided with Mr Lungu’s official visit to the tiny mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho for the inauguration of its new Prime Minister.
Upon his return, Mr Lungu played down the Church’s statement angrily accusing it of being the one having a crisis in their heads and that he was too busy to meet them.
The Ghanaian lender’s ‘roasted lamb and shrimps’ dinner lecture, and Pope Francis’ envoy’s visit, isolates the Zambian dictator’s ‘there’s no crisis’ notion, and seems to forcibly drag him from a banquet table to a negotiating table.
There clearly seems to be no way for Lungu but to toe the democratic line, release the incarcerated opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and stop systematic institutional brutality, by his party militias against opposition supporters.