Resisting The Lungu Dictatorship: Drop Hichilema’s treason charge and fire Zambia Police boss Kanganja

By Elias Munshya, LLM, MBA, M.DIV.

Dictatorships rise not by the deliberate acts of its perpetrators, but by the silent ambivalence of its tolerators. No one truly lives and plans to become a dictator. Mobutu never planned to be one, and neither did Idi Amin Dada. These gentlemen found themselves in situations which appeared conducive to stretch their power, their authority and before they knew it, a cadre of supporters had raised a chorus of infallibility. To these choruses sang many who could not object to the little steps taken that appeared innocent and certainly legally justifiable. The duty to protect the integrity of our republic requires a complex litany of cooperation. Zambia cannot be made more democratically faithful by one person, or by one president acting alone. All the institutions of the state and non-state actors must work together. And together they must work.

Zambia faces the peril of division requiring action by all those involved. We cannot shift the blame to one person. We must all look at ourselves through the mirror and ask what we can do to diffuse the tension in our republic. In a unique way, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Edgar Lungu has a larger stake though. He holds some responsibilities that he cannot outsource to anybody. The integrity of the republic has been placed on Lungu’s shoulders and he cannot delegate this weight to anybody else. Zambians who elected Mr. Lungu should demand more from him. They should stand up together and demand that their head of state reclaims his paths and listens to the dissenting voices of some of its citizens. Clear as it may be that the president has the weight of responsibility, he carries this responsibility through others.

September 2016 ©MBKoeth

Elias Munshya  ©MBKoeth

What happened in Mongu was quite concerning on so many levels. Particularly, what the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) calls the “road rage” incident should be concerning to all. The president of the republic should not have been put in such a dangerous situation. Clearly, the Zambian taxpayers are forking out a lot of money to ensure that the symbol of their republic is protected and has a clear mind to think and act properly. The Zambia Police have that responsibility to keep this president safe. If the Zambia Police fail in their responsibility, it is time for the president to revamp it or do something that would help the police focus on what really is important for the sake of peace in Zambia. After Mongu, and indeed after the outcry from the public, it seems, the police may have reacted and may have desired to make up for their inefficiency in Mongu by trying to invade Mr. Hichilema’s home at midnight. To be clear, there is no justifiable reason why the Zambia Police should attack Mr. Hichilema’s home at midnight, break down his house, tear gas people, in order to arrest him for the offence which had been committed in Mongu. Had the police acted appropriately in Mongu, there would not have been this terrible unstable episode Zambia is facing right now following the midnight rage. Mr. Hichilema now faces charges of treason and we will leave it to the courts of law to deal with the merits of the issue, but even then, our republic cannot live with the instability that such an episode brings in our country.

The Zambia Police need to be told by supporters and sympathisers of the PF government that acts done in the name of the republic and in the name of the president that appear to breed instability in the republic are not tolerable. There is no reason why an arrest of a person of HH’s stature should take a battalion of armed paramilitaries. The militarisation of law enforcement does not bode well for the peaceful reputation this republic has. I therefore appeal to the President to fire the Inspector General of Police and to set the ministry of home affairs on a better footing. If the IG goes, I would also suggest that we have a new minister of home affairs as the portfolio appears too complicated and more sophisticated for Mr. Kampyongo to handle. The ministry of home affairs requires a more nuanced and more diplomatic person in charge, not a trigger-happy demagogue aiming to score political points.

With all this said, we must return to how dictatorships develop. With the weight of the republic on the shoulders of any president, sometimes people who surround these leaders sing very good melodies that corrupt the leader’s perception of what is real and what is not real. It would be failing us, if we do not point out the fact that it is the collective responsibility of all citizens to promote the rule of law. President Lungu must know that he has the support of citizens. However, he also must know that he has no support of those citizens who believe that invading a person’s home is an affront to good order and justice. There are several ways to arrest law breakers in Zambia, breaking their houses and teargassing them into submission is not one of them, unless those criminals are really building a parallel army to cause confusion in the republic. Certainly, what happened in Mongu does not look so, and the blame should fall squarely on Mr. Kanganja and perhaps Mr. Kampyongo who must be replaced forthwith so that our national security benefits from a fresher perspective.

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