The Road ahead for His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
After an agonizing three days where the two parties involved battled it out in the hearts of Zambians vis-à-vis the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s verified announcements constituency by constituency, the result finally got announced, PF’s Edgar C Lungu with 807,925 votes representing 48.33% of the total votes cast and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema with 780,168 votes representing 46.67% of the total votes cast, a difference of 27,757 or 1.66%. This result is the tightest and closest margin in the history of our young democracy!
Indeed this means two things, firstly that the PF has gotten to retain their governance by the skin of their teeth and that this slim margin says a lot in itself – that PF’s infighting, the lack of a placement of a decisive leader during the tenure of the late President Michael Chilufya Sata (MHSRIP) and the subsequent multifaceted messages that were coming out of the PF camps with its various factions and varied endorsements – certainly sent a shockwave reverberating through its supporters and has left the party’s support base highly fragmented.
In fact, one can’t help but acknowledge that had former president Rupiah Banda not come in and endorse the incumbent, we could perhaps be speaking a different story today – one of victory for the UPND instead.
So what are the implications of all this and how does it auger for His Excellency President Edgar Lungu?
In order to fully understand what is happening now and thus properly speculate where things could be headed, we need to carry out a brief analysis of the past.
The Death of HE Michael Chilufya Sata
As we all know very well, our former president died on the 28th October 2014, exactly four days after our celebrating of Zambia’s Jubilee. At this time Hon Edgar Lungu had been left as acting president and was at the same time both Minister of Justice and Minister of Defense and the much coveted Secretary General of the PF. The two portfolios landed on him after the previous holders Winter Kabimba were fired and the other Hon Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (popularly known as GBM) resigned respectively. For reasons that only HEMCS knows he lumped these responsibilities on Hon Lungu. When he needed to travel abroad for more medicals, he left Lungu in charge (with the instruments of power) and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
With his demise, the scenario that had been predicted in a leaked bedroom recording between one “bashi Nono” and “bana Nono” in which the former fully disclosed what was to be a crisis (and correctly) should there be no firm choice by the late president (alive at the time) in choosing or at least clearly indicating a successor, the thing most dreaded happened, the PF spun into a freefall winner-takes-it-all circus where leaders began mudslinging, accusing, backstabbing and outright washing all their dirty linen in public.
This was further exacerbated by the constant online and offline media reports that showed a truly divided party. The final “proof” was at the party general convention at the Mulungushi Rock of Authority where Hon Edgar Lungu was picked amidst great controversy and bitter misunderstanding.
The first sign that the “anointed” leader and choice of the “people” rested on Hon Lungu became obvious is when Acting President at the time Guy Scott decided to drop him as Secretary General of the Party. There was an immediate uproar and a dangerously chaotic reaction that saw tension immediately grip the hearts of people in the nation. This was short lived as Acting President Guy Scott immediately realized that he needed to reverse this for the sake of progress. That was the genesis of what this author will coin “Lungumania”.
Once it became obvious that Lungu was the people’s choice, the splits, quits, migrations and endorsements against him became more pronounced. I am not going to go into details as to who endorsed who but the bottom line is the leadership and unity seemed to get worse. When it looked like Lungu’s group was by far the largest and the most popular on the ground, common sense and sheer internal as well as external pressure seemed to have twisted the acting president Guy Scott into forming a “reconciliation” so as to move the party forward and make up for lost days – which UPND had taken full advantage of and began their campaigns to roaring large crowds in perceived PF strongholds like Kanyama Township in the heart of Lusaka.
The Truce – Reconciliation
In spite of the seeming reconciliation, we saw a number of “heavyweights” lend their support to UPND (no names mentioned here – you know them) and openly mock and ridicule the reconciliation. Despite this, the Lungu team had their game together and with those in support mounted what looked like an insurmountable journey. Team Edgar had seemingly so much against them. For starters the private media was mostly pro opposition both in terms of print, radio and television media. Furthermore, most online media was also anti Lungu. This put great pressure on Team Edgar to do what they could and with little funds and support for massive campaigns, it looked bleak to make this happen until a twist of fate played into their hands.
Enter Rupiah Banda
As fate would have it, Rupiah’s bid to stand as a candidate under the MMD ticket was quashed by the Supreme Court and so instead of backing his own opposed Nevers Mumba, Rupiah decided to throw his weight behind Hon Edgar Lungu. This certainly was a game changer. Yes this raises a lot of eyebrows as to what was in it for him. There were indeed insinuations that he would be made Vice President (as reported in some quarters of the print media) but this author certainly does not think so (could be proved wrong in a week of publishing this) but stands to gain much in Edgar’s victory – I will not speculate but leave that to the reader to deduce.
As it turns out, the RB gambit worked to PF’s favor and so with this victory at hand, the big question now stands, what is his reward?
I can only speculate but that is beyond the scope of this article.
So, Hon Edgar Chagwa Lungu has finally gotten into the proverbial “Plot 1” and this against all odds! He purportedly had these things standing against him
However, something strange happened with Lungu that we all must admit whether we support him or not, it seemed somehow that a certain special “favor” just came upon this man. From the time of the state funeral, to the speech at Heroes’ stadium, to the various runs in the campaign, there was an aura about him. The “people” had chosen their man – and no amount of chicanery, trickery or bullying was going to change this. Indeed “Lungumania” was here to stay – at least for the duration of the election campaigns.
It is this “Lungumania” that saw many contribute their money into the PF campaign machinery plus all of the “connections” that were garnered by the “friends of Edgar Lungu”. Indeed within that period, in spite of all the negatives listed above, against all odds, Edgar Chagwa Lungu is now president.
You must bear in mind that President Hakainde Hichilema gained massive ground for his party, got overwhelming support from the MMD Members of Parliament (virtually all of them with the exception of a few), and also had great backing from a number of disgruntled PF significant individuals who chose to back him rather than Edgar Lungu. This all is evidenced by the margin of loss we now see a difference of 27,757 or 1.66%.
Indeed great kudos to the UPND campaign team and supporters – yours is not a lost cause. The margin tells you that you stand a great chance at taking it in the following elections (2016) should you strategize well and continue with the path you have taken.
Bow out gracefully, get back to the drawing board and begin your campaigns now – 18 months isn’t long and your victory depends on what I will outline below as the scenario His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu finds himself in.
So, what is the future road ahead for President Lungu? Well, here are the challenges he faces in no particular order
1. The Cabinet
There is no question that he needs to make changes, but the real question is who stays, who goes? And what are the implications of each one of these decisions considering that he has only 18 months before the next elections? Furthermore, because UPND is certainly going to start campaigning very early, how does he manage to meet all the promised made within one year as campaigns will certainly take off just after the rain season in 2016?
Furthermore, those that will be dropped may end up migrating, further diving the already division riddled party. Therefore letting go of some ministers may actually be detrimental to the stability of PF going into the next general elections. This is going to be very challenging, thus has to be handled very wisely.
Does he continue the programs of the Late President Sata or does he reverse them? We have the mine tax issue, the fired nurses, the unpaid farmers, the massive debt we already have undertaken, the Bemba royal establishment dilemma, the budget deficit (after a funeral and an election), the thorny but highly necessary constitution delivery and last but not least, the many pending bills that require to be signed and made into law including things like freedom of information, clipping of presidential powers, public order act, countrywide broadcasting licenses for the media, decentralizing of some key government institutions (such as the ECZ) and much more.
Does he really continue down HEMCS’ line or does he assert his leadership as an individual – perhaps “continuity with change”?
3. His Gratitude for “Team Edgar”
We all know that many worked tirelessly to see President Edgar get to State House. How will he repay them. Positions? Foreign service? And how about those that seemed to oppose him during the early days of selecting the candidate for PF president. Will he victimize them? Will he perhaps follow in his predecessor’s footsteps and forgive them instead? What about those who are suspected of corruption or have pending cases in court? Does President Edgar do a “Mwanawasa” on them? (For those of you who don’t know what a “Mwanawasa” is – it is when even after a former president helps to bring his successor into power, the successor then turns on them and allows the courts and rule of law to take its course – in short a betrayal of their goodwill)
4. The Predecessor’s People
What happens to the bloated Foreign Service of which we are told is filled with what media has coined the “Sata forest”? Are they going to be retained or brought back? Where will that money to repatriate, end their contracts, pay their dues and get the new ones and their settling in allowance in place come from? Then there are those who are supposed to be professionals, the Permanent Secretaries, Directors within government and quasi government positions, special personnel and the like still going to remain or be moved.
But far more important than the four is this one
5. How will they turn PF’s fledgling dismal result and Win 2016?
This is the greatest headache. Had it not been for the MMD supporters and the voters that stayed away, UPND would be the winners hands down. What does that say for PF? It says they need a total make over, they need great leadership on the part of President Lungu that will bring together rather than divide, accommodate rather than evict or expel, embrace rather than push away but even more so, tolerate and consolidate rather than be prejudicial and scatter. If His Excellency President Edgar Lungu can be wise enough to be as cool headed and temperate, restrained as humanly possible and not think emotionally but with posterity in mind, this would be the time to bring all dissidents and disgruntled people back together to create as much as is humanly possible the pre-2011 PF team. If that can happen, it is very likely PF will have the muscle to take on UPND in 2016.
Truly President Edgar Lungu has no time to celebrate as the task ahead is gargantuan. And it must also be realized that in 2016, we have a tripartite election and the future of PF rests solely on his leadership style. If he exercises restraint and inclusiveness as much as possible, and also works to dispel all the “perceptions” perpetrated by the opposition and his opponents alike, then he may indeed prove to be the leader most thought he wasn’t, and that will ensure PF remains intact, retains most of its supporters and wins the hearts of the Zambians – as they did in 2011.
But if God-forbid he becomes vindictive, begins a witch hunt, persecutes those that opposed him openly, and embraces those perceived to have “issues and skeletons” that need to be brought to the public and decisively dealt with, then it is the opinion of this author that the Patriotic Front as a party may end up heading where the MMD is today, into the ranks of the opposition with an almost extinct presence in any subsequent elections.
Like all articles of this nature, only the passage of time will tell the true tale – so, in the words that I have so come to love, all we can do is just wait and see!
God bless this great nation of Zambia – Indeed Zambia Shall Prevail!
Rev Walter Mwambazi
Author of "The 7 Principles for Financial Prosperity", Life Coach, Facilitator, Peak Performance Coach, Digital Marketing Professional, Network Marketer, Health & Wellness Consultant, Pastor, Copy Writer, Motivation Speaker & Writer.