On November 8, President Edgar Lungu made what I think to be one of the worst mistakes of his Presidency, announcing his decision to run for a third term in office.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one of Edgar Lungu’s steadfast supporter and a strong stakeholder in the Patriotic Front (PF), but I find it very unusual that President Edgar can be more concerned about hanging on to power than the development of Zambia, at least that is the major concern we are getting from leaders across Zambia.
This decision to announce his intention to run for an election billed for 2021 in 2019 is very sudden, he would have allowed us at the lower level to push for his re-election rather than making the job difficult for us by looking like a Power drunk leader.
Over the last few years, we have been trying to change the narrative that African leaders are power-drunk, this narrative which has been powered by some of the worst dictators Like late Idi Amin of Uganda to Sani Abacha of Nigeria should not be allowed to be the new normal in our generation.
President Edgar Lungu started well, we were on the ground working and shaping the narrative for him to succeed and end well. His manifesto of making Zambia a prosperous middle-income nation was centered on improved education, skills development, girl’s education, women’s empowerment, livelihood project, among others and we did our best as his supporters and believers in the Zambian project to assist him in pushing forward his agenda to the grassroots, thus expanding his legacies in Zambia and across Africa.
The day he made that statement “I am game” I was with a top PF leader at Livingstone, we just finished a strategy meeting with some Skill training facilitators, we were hoping to pass the recommendation to the Party leadership for action.
The reaction, we got from the room was a mixed feeling, some people were shocked, some were confused, some like us who were closer to the Presidency knew that President Edgar would do anything under his power to secure a third-term.
Why President Edgar Lungu is desperate
There is an allegation of corruption hanging on the President, many pundits believe that President Edgar would do anything to hang on to power as long as he can to avoid being investigated. Why this may not be entirely true, opposition leaders are currently selling this narrative and the momentum is very high. But the fact is, the president is being pushed by those who have vested interests in controlling the economy of Zambia. Some of these people want to use President Edgar perceived popularity for their own political benefit.
Why Many PF leaders are concerned
The sudden popularity of the main opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema in PF stronghold has been a serious concern to PF strategists over the years. I have written many letters and met with many PF leaders to discuss how we can re-strategize our campaign objectives as we look ahead to 2021.
How this will play out
Most of Lungu’s associates like Ronald Chitotela, Alexander Chiteme, Bowman Lusambo, Kaizar Zulu, Davies Mwila will be at the forefront preaching president Edgar’s third term agenda to PF Party leaders, the opposition leader, Hichilema will also reach out to take advantage of the hole created in the party by President Edgar announcement.
I am not a prophet, so I can’t predict the future, but I can tell you this, 2021 presidential election will be the most keenly contested election in Zambian history