Elias Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu will leave a bad mark when he leaves office. And Chipimo says President Lungu’s leadership is uninspiring, visionless and undisciplined.
The National Restoration Party leader said there was no guarantee that President Lungu would be re-elected in next year’s general elections. “If we get to a situation where the PF next year is not returned to power and this is very possible because politics being politics, you cannot have any guarantee. Politics is one of those games where anything is possible. And if it so happens that come September 2016, elections have taken place and the PF loses power, President Lungu will leave a mark on the country, but it will not be a good mark,” Chipimo said.
“President Lungu has not been brave enough to tackle head-on the challenges within his own party and the challenges within the politics of this country. That bravery is possessed by a few men. If you look back at our history, (Dr Kenneth) Kaunda was a brave man, (Levy) Mwanawasa was a brave man, (Frederick) Chiluba was a brave man.” Chipimo said the three former presidents were brave men because they were ready to go against populist sentiment in order to address issues that were in the long-term interest of the country. “In the case of (Dr) Kaunda, he defied all odds to fight for independence to ensure that there was a sense of equality and if you look at the development that took place in the early years after independence, it reflected leadership that was courageous because he was recognised widely as an international statesman,” he said. Chipimo said Dr Kaunda supported and inspired liberation movements within Africa and beyond the continent. “This required a lot courage and bravery.
If we come to Chiluba, he wanted to change the structure of this economy and even when it was unpopular to talk about structural adjustments, he pursued it, not worrying about whether he will be re-elected but worrying about getting the country right. And he built a spirit of entrepreneurialism, which we haven’t seen before in this country,” he said. Chipimo said Mwanawasa battled against corruption and that he tried to live up to the personal commitment of addressing it within his own ranks. “He didn’t succeed fully but he took on that fight, perhaps even at the cost of his life.
If you remember, he resigned and he is the first [Republican] vice-president to resign on the ground that action was not being taken in respect of corruption as he perceived it. So these were very brave men,” he said. Chipimo said unlike the three former presidents, President Lungu’s leadership was uninspiring, visionless and undisciplined. “When you come to Mr Lungu, we are seeing a situation that we thought we have overcome. President Lungu’s leadership is uninspiring. Right now, our country needs inspiration. By its own admission, it is visionless, by its own actions, it is undisciplined. These are facts that speak for themselves. Right now, we need inspiration, vision, and discipline. We need policy consistency. We are not seeing that,” he said. “We have just borrowed more money on international markets; we are now going back to the historical debt levels that led us to be described as Highly Indebted Poor Country. We will be close to US$8 billion in debt; who is going to pay back that money? That is the first thing. Secondly, if you look at the amount of money that has been spent on by-elections, it is the biggest in our history. Over K230 million on by-elections – and we are not even including the [January] presidential election – since 2011. That is over K50 million.” Chipimo wondered how many clinics, hospitals and schools could have been built using the money that had been spent on the by-elections. “How much investment could that have made for the power sector and reducing the load-shedding? These are the things that will be remembered by people in 2016,” said Chipimo.