It was George Reedy, President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary who said that, “The Office neither elevates nor degrades a man. What it does is to provide a stage upon which all his personality traits are magnified and accentuated.’’ The inauguration of HH as Zambia’s 7th president in August, 2021 provided him such a stage. His inauguration speech and other pronouncements which followed as he settled down in the highest office in the land plus all his campaign promises convinced his supporters that his 2.8 million votes were not a hyperbole.
At each swearing in ceremony of government office bearers, he committed himself to a new era in the way he was set to govern the country different from what he had constantly referred to while in the opposition as Lungu’s dictatorship and authorianism. His commitments were cast across all constituencies of voters without exception and the people’s antipathy against Lungu evolved into emotional love for HH. The 12th August, 2021 which became Lungu’s Waterloo became HH’s Victory-Day.
Lessons abound in the history and life of humans when societies have failed to objectively evaluate the character of rulers but instead believed only in their word of mouth substituting it for their deed. Robert Greene describes this as the “blind spot in human nature.’’ The last 5 months of the UPND government with HH as president seem to confirm how our country is still poorly equipped to evaluate the character of leaders unto whom we entrust our affairs of state.
In the seven years of Lungu’s reign the PF was guilty of several acts of intolerance of opposing views of those within its rank and file and also the opposition. But so it goes with the UPND, a party which promised individual freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution. It was, therefore, shocking to see UPND cadres storm a radio station in Mpika District in order to disrupt a programme by the opposition. To cover its embarrassment the first reaction from UPND was a denial of the party membership of those involved, even further claiming they could be PF cadres masquerading as UPND members. Really? This party disclaimer, ridiculous as it sounded was intended to maintain the party’s pre-election campaign image and promises.
The arrest of Raphael Nakachinda by Chelstone police, a PF senior official followed on the heels of the Mpika incident. While he was being interrogated by police, a horde of UPND youths went to the police station in protest with the aim of enforcing extra-judicial punishment on the suspect before he was even charged with the alleged offence. Social media showed pictures of senior PF officials running for their lives in all directions like a disturbed beehive. A UPND statement over the incident was that this was a group of PF youths who were displeased with the leadership and the goings-on in their party. Surely?
Come with me now to Kasama in Northern Province where UPND cadres clad in clearly identifiable regalia of the party beat up a defenceless and helpless female civil servant in her office. The horror of the incident prompted HH to speak. It is his reaction which was more telling than the brutality of his members, the president did not see this transgression by his cadres as an affront to the wide gender agenda. It was to him a mere act of violence. He urged the authorities in a general statement, not to allow youths to enter government premises to beat up people. But to do what?
The directive not to enter government buildings to beat up people reached Chembe District promptly. Its compliance came from the UPND deputy national youth chairman, one Chikote. A foreign mining investor operating outside a government building was not covered by the president’s directive and was, therefore, liable to the party’s mining inspectorate. Chikote’s eagerness to inspect the mining investment which he alleged was illegally in the area was thwarted by a contingency of alert police officers whom he threatened with dismissal and transfers because according to him, he only reports to the president as a member of the party’s national management committee. The body language of the police officers was patently visible. They never thought that they would ever again suffer the humiliation which was so commonplace under the PF. But here it was only five months into the term of office of the UPND in government. This is unbelievable, they must have whispered amongst themselves, since the president had promised an end to such impunity. Chikote and his goons were arrested by police. After his appearance before the party’s national management committee, Chikote was reported leading all UPND provisional youth chairmen who met HH at State House. Ok, so anarchy and impudence could still earn Chikote audience with the president with ease? What then was wrong with the likes of Innocent Kalimanshi in PF?
A liberal economy sustained by Foreign Direct Investment is the kernel of the UPND economic framework. Running a country is like running a business, HH was always heard as saying while in the opposition. If this be the case, the Kalumbila mine owners need an explanation from him for the misbehaviour of his cadres in Kalumbila District recently.
The UPND youths alongside their traditional leader who was clad in UPND regalia barricaded the road from Kalumbila into Solwezi in order to prevent the transportation of copper out of the district unless they were employed by the mining company. This must have seemed like a dream to the company. How in God’s name can such a thing happen under HH with all his fetishism to international monopoly capital? I want to end with Robert Greene’s quote from his book, The Laws of Human Nature, wherein he throws a caution:
“At all costs you must alter your perspectives. Train yourself to ignore the front that people display, the myth that surrounds them, and instead plumb their depths for signs of their character. This can be seen in the patterns they reveal from their past, the quality of their decisions, how they have chosen to solve them, how they delegate authority and work with others, and countless other signs. A person of strong character is like gold rare but invaluable.’’