Given the tense and violent atmosphere within which the current elections are being conducted, President Lungu’s threats are unwarranted and dangerous.
In as much as we understand that politicians have a tendency to be emotionally swayed away on election campaign platforms, President Lungu has to learn to control his language. He is not just any other politician; he is head of state and commander of our armed forces! He wields state power and has monopoly control over the use of force. Therefore, what he says has huge and far-reaching repercussions. Without the requisite emotional restraint, he will end up plunging our country into chaos and mayhem.
This is not the first time that President Lungu is threatening violence to his perceived enemies using organs of the state. However, his language and actions are increasingly becoming tyrannical and desperate. Will this threatening language assure him more votes? Will the people of Zambia vote for him out of fear and intimidation? Definitely not! If anything, he is alienating himself from the majority of peace loving Zambians. In their eyes, he is no longer the humble, respectable person whom they, rightly or wrongly, once thought he was. President Lungu is cultivating for himself a persona that is inimical to his own political interests and spirit of statesmanship.
Democracy is a wonderful rose with all its thorns – to use the analogy from Karl Marx. President Lungu cannot only accept democracy when it works in his favour. He should also reckon with its pricks and all other accompanying discomforts. Opposition political parties and critics of his rule are an inseparable component of our democracy. Those with opposing political views are mere competitors for state power; they are not enemies that ought to be liquidated using draconian measures.
President Lungu’s threatening language also puts our law enforcement and security agencies in a tight corner. Our men and women in the respective state organs are increasingly becoming frustrated with carrying out orders that work against the masses of the people they are supposed to be serving. They are increasingly realising that orders given and actions taken with impunity are equally alienating them from the people of Zambia. They are seeing how PF party cadres are now taking over their institutions and professionalism is being thrown away. There is apparent anger and dissatisfaction brewing amongst our officers. The more President Lungu moves along a violent path, the more discontent he is creating in the ranks and files of our security and defence personnel. This can never be a recipe for peace and stability.
My appeal to the security and defence personnel is that they remain level headed and professional. They are working under some of the most difficult conditions any professional can be subjected to. However, if the situation was to completely spiral out of control, it will not be the political leaders in power that would face the wrath of angry mobs and masses. If anything, the leaders, that are in the first place responsible for inflaming the situation, conveniently fly out and find safe haven oversees where they continue to enjoy their ill-begotten wealth. It is then the left behind and defenceless private, lance corporal or intelligence officer living in one of the town compound that ends up being a scapegoat for retribution by angry mobs. Our homeland should not be allowed to reach that level. President Lungu has to tone down his language and our men and women in uniform should remain patriotic to our homeland and to the Zambian masses.