BEATING DRUMS FOR THE RETURN OF ECL.
By Joseph Chirwa
I have noted with concern and disdain calls by some senior Patriotic Front (PF) and PF-aligned opposition political party members who are calling for a comeback of former President Edgar Chagwa Lungu (ECL) to active politics.
The calls are made in such a reckless and counterproductive manner by suggesting that out of millions of Zambians ECL is the only saviour of Zambia after the perceived failure of President Hakainde Hichilema (HH).
- It is game over for ECL
President Lungu ruled Zambia for close to seven years. He was a beneficiary of an unfinished legacy of Michael Chilufya Sata (MCS) who fought against all odds from 2001 to 2011 to oust the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD). MCS was a veteran politician who contested the presidency four times, of which he lost three. ECL himself contested three elections, winning two and losing one. He has done his service for Zambia and it is time for him to leave the mantle to others and transition into a statesman. He is the only living former president whom HH and other future presidents may use for high level national duties and diplomatic relations.
Unnecessarily casting ECLs name into the political arena is counterproductive. It puts his name into unnecessary ridicule. It is game over for him and the people who are casting his name into politics are doing so for selfish individual reasons. The PF cannot survive by using ECLs name for political mileage. The PFs time is gone and done. This is so because it has refused to rebrand. It has refused to cast away its demons. It has refused to repent. It has refused to walk on a new path. It has refused to learn from its loss in 2021. It is merely banking on the failure of policy of the new dawn administration. It hopes it will benefit from the anger of the general populace but with no plan of its own.
- What will ECL do that he didn’t do in 7 years?
ECL has his own legacy. He will be known as a president who transformed Zambia into a modern country. He is the architect of an unprecedented infrastructural development. He oversaw a Zambia with a stable food security. Farmers countrywide miss his government that provided farming inputs in a timely and orderly fashion. He accomplished what he could. He has to be applauded for his achievements. The icing on the cake was his voluntary surrender of power. He continued the practice of all our former presidents who surrendered power peacefully. He is a stateman who has his name marked in indelible ink in the hearts of many Zambians. But his rule had its own failures that made Zambians withdraw their mandate from him in 2021. Zambia was characterised by unsustainable and skyrocketing debt, perceived grand corruption, police heavy-handedness, and thuggery among his party’s cadres that resulted in looting of resources in bus stations and markets; leaving local authorities with chronic financial malnutrition. Many believe that he was a weak leader as a result of his perceived failure to discipline his officials both in government and in the party. This cost him elections. He has done it all and there is nothing left for him to offer to the country in the capacity of Republican President. He has a lot to offer in his eternal capacity as former president. He is a resource that can be used by both HH and future presidents. The PF can equally use him in its ‘Council of Elders’ in an advisory capacity. To suggest his comeback is folly of the highest kind and must not be entertained as this will blight his legacy.
- Let us honour our former presidents
Zambian governments must move away from toxic hatred of former presidents. We must move away from the seed planted by Frederick Chiluba who persecuted Kenneth Kaunda. We must move away from the seed of Levy Mwanawasa who persecuted Frederick Chiluba. We must move away from the seed of MCS who persecuted Rupiah Bwezani Banda. Let us start treating former presidents with dignity and respect. The seed of tormenting former presidents is the one that fuels the desire for people to wish for comebacks. It is the seed that creates dictatorships. Presidents must not fear for their peace, safety and security after office. This forces them not to cede power as we can see from other African countries. The ‘beef’ between sitting presidents and former presidents is counterproductive. It punctures national unity. It derails governments from pursuing the issues that deserve attention. It is time President HH and ECL bury the hatchet for the sake of national unity. It is time also for the PF to give chance to HH to rule. This does not mean that the PF abdicates its constitutional responsibility of providing checks and balances to the government of the day. The United Party for National Development (UPND) should also own up. It must accept criticism. It must not behave like the PF in power. It must not expect every Zambian to be a praise singer. We are not in a one party state. Diversity of views is part of multi-partism.
The message from the office of the 6th president is comforting. This is to the extent that ECL has no intention of coming back to active politics and recontesting the 2026 general elections. This is leadership and I pray it is as it was said. We have a lot of people who can succeed President HH. These are found in the UPND, PF, Socialist Party, PeP, EFF and other political parties. This includes those parties not yet born. Let ECL rest as he has run his race. Let us respect him and show gratitude for what he has done for this country.
Chirwa is the author of “Judging a President” under the pen name Kasenengwa Wanu. Judging a President was a book that detailed the achievements of ECL when he was President. He simply tells it as it is.
Source: The Mast