Prosecuting or Persecuting Edgar Lungu – is this echo from the past?

Prosecuting or Persecuting Edgar Lungu – is this echo from the past?
Prosecuting or Persecuting Edgar Lungu – is this echo from the past?

Africa-Press – Zambia. There is blood in the ocean and the sharks are circling a mortally wounded prey to inflict a final bite. The prey has two choices; either fight back or hunker down and surrender to its fate. This analogy aptly sums up former President Edgar Lungu’s predicament.

At a recent but tempestuous gathering of his supporters, Lungu’s emotional scars were visible yet he finally roused himself from a politically induced slumber to issue a thinly veiled salvo at government, and by implication the incumbent President.

Feeding red meat to his base, his euphemism about Boris Johnson having lied his way into No 10 Downing Street rhymed with the jingle, ‘Bally Muntu Wabufi’. And this line struck a chord among ululating PF cadres gathered to offer support to their embattled leader. Seemingly urged on by mob psychology, Lungu who was visibly basking in a rare limelight, let rip his frustration – somewhat betraying his humble demenour.

“You don’t have to be clever to know that after her it will be me,” he muttered to an enquiry about alleged victimisation by state prosecuting agencies. Similarly, the pandemonium that characterised the former first lady’s appearance at the DEC speaks volumes about what is fast becoming a pattern of harassment.

For context, the assertion that the former head of state or members of his family may be guilty of corruption is not the crux of this discussion but the fact that his family is being subjected to a trial through the media is Lungu’s concern. Is there merit in his grievance? Spare a thought for the former President – who until recently was a poster man of imperviousness, he looks tired and frail in just under 9 months after his political foe trounced him at the polls.

At the height of his Presidency, Lungu crushed dissent with maximum force. Insulating himself with sycophants who were after his largesse, he detached himself from the socio-economic challenges facing Zambians. He was beyond reproach, ba bosele, mwine wakasaka. Utterances such as ubomba mwibala alya mwibala as a response to alleged looting of state coffers by his government epitomised his arrogance.

Ethnic polarisation and identity politics became entrenched under his watch. Of his transgressions, the UPND faithful will never forgive him for incarcerating their leader on a trumped-up treason charge. Agreed, it was ill advised, callous but most of all uncalled for.

Why are we beating a dead snake? Wenzenjani sishaya inyoka ifile kudala, is a profound Zulu idiom, loosely translated reads as ‘why are we expending our energies beating a dead snake or in other words, what good does it do us to evoke memories of a by-gone era?

It is this history and Lungu’s reign of terror that has got us to this crossroad. What is happening to the former first family and a coterie of his former ministers is history unfolding right before our eyes, the exception being that actors have swapped roles. Former victims have become the oppressors and the former oppressors are now victims.

Of concern though is the alacrity with which government has reacted to Lungu’s protestation by threatening to withdraw his pension for voicing what seems to be a legitimate concern. At best, government’s reaction is illustrative of a problem endemic to revenge politics. However ruthless he was a leader, disdain for Lungu does not rob him of his inalienable rights to self-expression. In other words, the state should not be seen to be blackmailing the former President by cajoling him to purchase his immunity and pension benefits through an induced silence.

But it is the conduct of law enforcement agents that is even more worrying. Eager to impress the new dispensation, the DEC – which until recently was in the deep pockets of the PF government, began to dish piece meal information on a string of properties allegedly deserted by a person bearing the names of the former first lady. The objective was to sully the former first lady through the mud and create a perception that she is a person of questionable virtues.

And trouble is that perception equates to reality – at least in the court of public opinion. And the slow but assuring abjuration by the general public of their support to the first lady is proof that this malicious strategy is working. This is what has irked Lungu the most. Makes you wonder, does the DEC even have a compelling case against the former first lady? This question is in no way a verdict of her guilty or innocence there-off.

Off course, humiliating her has made good a charade for cameras but there is a real risk that the DEC’s antics may be endearing the Lungu family and by extention former PF ministers to victim and possible martyr hood. The matrix becomes even more complicated when you factor in the prolonged imprisonment of former PF Deputy Secretary Mumbi Phiri. How ironic that her incarceration is no different to that of HH. Just like the President was, she too has been detained on a laughable charge.

As troubling as this might be, it could just well be true that few are actually shedding tears for the incarcerated former PF strongwoman. She is paying a steep price for her arrogance – amalibu yaku ilombela. The reality however is that her association to identity politics should in no way justify her incarceration. Two wrongs do not make a right. The lesson to the formerly oppressed – who are now in charge of the levers of power is that arrogance which is emblematic of triumphalism can be dangerous if not moderated.

And most worrisome is the rate at which UPND leaders are graduating from the Patriotic Front University of arrogance. But If ever the UPND leadership wanted to have sight of a political karma, they need not look beyond Lungu’s predicament.

For feedback, contact [email protected] * Are we back to that era of renting cadres to drown independent mindedness? Unprovoked, uyu kandile who specialises in writing on the homeless – the analyst of anything alive on earth, decided to throw an unwarranted epithet at us.

While we accept criticism of any kind, just don’t just become personal. We chin up when the likes of Ayatollah and De Javu bomb our works because theirs is criticism based on facts and bears a sence of sincerity and patriotism. Even the partisan Spaka alalandako ifyamano. Our response to you kandile: Stop cheer leading your own blogs under the guise of one Chirwa and other pseudonyms. Bushe balakulishamo?

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