Zambia’s new President Edgar Lungu, elected less than two months ago, collapsed last weekend and was flown out of the country for specialized treatment. In a country that has lost three presidents in ten years, why did the voters ignore reports about Lungu’s poor health?
In This Book Has No Title, Jarod Kintz induces an enigmatic syringe, “In the land of Gibberish, the man who makes sense, the man who speaks clearly, clearly speaks nonsense.” Zambia presently looks like a land where those who make sense, who speak clearly, clearly speak nonsense. And the truth is not very far away: In a space of ten years, the land has lost three presidents, has conducted two presidential bye-elections, and has elected two unfit-to-govern presidents! Meanwhile, the presidents are either dying or being flown out of the country to “one of the best medical facilities in the world.” And the irony is that the said best hospitals in the world fail us lamentably – they are notorious for handing us back dead heads of state!
The issue is not that the newly-elected president, Edgar Lungu, just collapsed (March 9th, 2015) and is evacuated to Milpark Hospital in South Africa, for all people fall sick from time to time and will eventually die. The problem, however, is that this is just all too familiar to Zambia now. A country to lose a president in 50 years is acceptable; two presidents in 25 years is bad luck; but three presidents in ten years is a national crisis. If Zambia should lose President Lungu – I pray Lord his life to spare – that will be calamitous and a curse!
Zambia is dying, if not already dead, and this is precisely stated for three irrefutable reasons. First, a land may be poor but it will have enough resources to preserve the life of the most important state official, namely the president. Zambia has failed to do so three times. It can be argued that the future is in the hands of God. But it is no brainer that health is mostly a product of prudent management. Zambian healthcare failed to sustain Mwanawasa. It failed Chiluba. It failed Sata. And it is failing to care for President Lungu. Why should a sovereign nation fail to take care of the health of its president? And the big insult is that the so-called state of the art hospitals to which these ailing presidents are evacuated fail to bring them alive! Surely, they would have died, or lived, had they stayed and were cared for under Zambia’s own healthcare system. Does poverty indict itself? The health of a president reflects mostly directly on the state of a nation. Zambia is dying and needs serious and intensive care!
Second, after Sata, and now Lungu, it is very clear that the current crop of Zambian politicians neither respects nor rule by the law. When Michael Sata was sick (and rumours had it that he had long lost his sanity) and he was still president when the constitution is very clear that a president may be removed for lack of capacity. The Pf party knew when it fielded in Edgar Lungu that he was sickly, a drunkard and liability, but it loved power more than it loved the people of Zambia. The politicians are so greed that they can prefer to be in power to placing the interest of the nation first. These greedy politicians sacrificed Sata and now Lungu just to be and remain in power. And while all this is being done, meagre national resources which can go a long way to curb poverty and end national ignominy are being diverted to caring for an ailing president. Foreign hospitals have benefited from Zambian’s copper reserves by failing to treat Zambian presidents while the majority Zambians wallow in unspeakable lack of basic needs such as food and clean water.
Third, Zambians, how long should you be victims of hypocrisy, of the lies of power-hungry and greedy politicians? Before the January 20th, 2015 presidential bye-elections, the facts were clear that candidate Lungu was unfit to rule. The Pf played a tribal card game to its ephemeral efficiency and won, only to deliver to the people another incapable leader. Slogans (Ifintu ni Lungu) do not change nations, people do. Even before the nation has finished celebrating his victory, the resources that could bring development to an impoverished nation are now going south. Candidate Lungu articulated no vision, stood for no principle and won the election – where on the face of the globe – unless, of course, it is in Zambia! It is not that anyone hates President Lungu; it is only reasonable that in a country of 15 million people a healthy, visionary and credible candidate cannot be found in ten years. President Lungu may end up to be the greatest president ever, but at what cost to the tax-payers? Zambians, wake up; make choices based on reason and truth and not on insubstantial promises from career politicians who have failed to develop the land. The current Zambian politicians are turning vetted democratic and economic ideals into crimes and lies!
* Charles Mwewa writes frequently on Zambia and is the author of Zambia: Struggles of My People, a 1,100 magnum opus covering all aspects of Zambia, historical and contemporary. Blog: www.mwewa.ca