Irish Times: Zambia’s Lungu is a dictator

The Zambian parliament’s decision last week to approve a 90-day state of emergency sought by the country’s president, Edgar Lungu, has reinforced fears among his critics that he is trying to establish an authoritarian regime.

On July 11th, 85 lawmakers from Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party gave the police increased arrest and detention powers, after the president alleged that supporters of the main opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND), were behind a string of recent arson attacks.

The UPND’s 48 parliamentary MPs had boycotted the vote in protest over the extent of the powers that would be given to the government, which the opposition party believes illegitimately came to power last August following disputed general elections.

The emergency decree “constitutes abuse of power designed to silence his critics and kill democracy,” UPND vice president Geoffrey Mwamba said in a statement. “It is clear that [Lungu’s] actions are premeditated and designed to strengthen the hand of dictatorship.”


The move to secure a state of emergency that gives government sweeping powers to suspend civil rights has also been highly criticised locally and internationally.

And many observers say it is just the latest sign that Lungu is trying to establish a dictatorship to quell growing dissent to his rule among Zambians still suffering from the negative effects of an economic downturn that began in 2015.

According to the World Bank, Zambia’s gross domestic product only grew by 2.8 per cent in 2015 and 3.3 per cent in 2016, which is much slower than the 7.4 per cent average recorded in the 10 years up to 2014.

Lungu’s government first set alarm bells ringing among rights groups in 2016 ahead of the August general election, in which the PF leader was seeking re-election as the southern African country’s president.


During that period Lungu’s state security agencies were involved in an attack on a national newspaper, The Post, which was viewed as largely critical of the establishment.

It was reported locally that the publication was stormed by police over accusations it was evading taxes. The Post’s journalists were teargassed and physically attacked before the newspaper was shut down.

More recently, on April 11th UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was arrested at his home and later charged with treason for allegedly attempting to block a motorcade in which Lungu was travelling, an act which was said to have endangered the president’s life.

Hichilema remains incarcerated in a maximum security prison in the capital Lusaka, and there is no indication yet as to when he might next appear in court.

Next, the UPND’s 48 MPs were suspended from parliament in June for two weeks for boycotting a speech delivered by Lungu to the lower house.

Refused entry

Following the introduction of the state of emergency South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), accused the Lungu administration of trying to “cement a dictatorship” in Zambia.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane was also refused entry into Zambia earlier this year when he tried to attend a court hearing for Hichilema.

In response to the allegations that he is becoming increasingly dictatorial, Lungu insisted Zambia was Africa’s most accomplished democracy, and that he was only trying to bring “sanity” to the country.

“If this is dictatorship, there is no democracy in Africa, ” he told a press conference last week. “I know that people think I am targeting political players. I am not targeting any political player. I am only trying to bring sanity.”

Zambia’s democracy has been one of the most resilient in the region, having undergone two peaceful transfers of power since the country’s first multi-party elections in 1991.


Professor of democracy and international development at the University of Birmingham, Nicolas Cheeseman, said this form of governance was only successfully secured because of the active involvement of civil society and the international community in local politics.

“Zambians have always wanted democracy and they have been supported in the past to achieve it by strong unions, church movements and the international community,” Cheeseman told The Irish Times.

“But in recent years the unions have weakened, church organisations are no longer as united as they once were, and the international community appears to be focused elsewhere,” he concluded.



  • comment-avatar

    So what Irish Times, its too cold there. Mind your business of keeping yourselves warm. Us and HE Lungu are working even for people of Dundumwezi.

  • comment-avatar
    Precious Mbuto 7 months

    Why the leaders always forget about da people? Why our leaders don’t care about us? The men need to stop arguing and focus on leading the country and making sure it works. The way things are now everyone is running away from us quickly and it seems we will lose all investment in the country and we will slowly burn under the hot sun and disappear into the ground and become one with the earth. This is the plan of the good Lord, it is not for our leaders to make it happen quicker!! All leaders listen, look after us, that is what God needs you to do.

  • comment-avatar
    El Macho 7 months

    The problems with the UPND are as follows:

    1. They have no communications strategy or a poor one: They assume that people MUST listen and obey them instead of wooing people. We are people, not cattle.

    2. Their foot soldiers are too angry and lack the ability to reason: UPND members are like ISIS members, they work based on anger and terror. Every UPND supporter I have met seems furious at what happened in 2016 August. They cannot see the wood for the trees.

    3. They spend too much time talking about THEIR problems and not OUR problems: I have problems with work, pay, the future of my kids, housing, feeding of my family, how to pay the electric/ water fees, how to have enough for me to have fun and live life. UPND members can only talk in abstract about themselves and what they will do for themselves and DO TO PF members as soon as they take office. The people are nowhere in the equation. They want the people to give them office so that they can bring misery, pain and suffering on the Bemba and Nyanja people in REVENGE. They behave like auditors, always looking in the past instead of management accountants looking to the future.

    4. Their party has no grass roots, it is top heavy: For there to be a Tsunami you need amplitude and deep water waves not surface waves. For them to win, they need to touch people at their hearts. Their lack of empathy is palpable. They are a gang of people that don’t speak of meali-meal and kapenta. They speak of the boats and nets.

    5. They communicate in the worst way possible: They speak to everyone as if everyone has a masters degree in aeronautical engineering and should understand things. The way you speak to the man on the street, the man in the compound, the man in the field, the man at the office and the man at corporate level must differ. You speak to the man on the street about macro economic policy issues and international relations and expect that they even understand you. You are condescending and crass and assume that we should all understand you? Damn. When was the last time you fella’s ever engaged the services of a Bikloni & Difikoti level marketer? You sell yourselves as OMO instead of selling yourselves as Boom paste.

    6. They assume that people cannot see past tokenism: Having GBM and Banda as you token foreigners does not work. Wars are won by pawns not kings & queens. Have foot soldiers that have a great message and are on the REAL ground, stating REAL issues and sweating and starving with REAL people in the markets, cooperatives, on the buses.

    7. They are a closed shop: Membership or even sympathy for the UPND is limited to a clique of people. A bunch of tribes and tribesmen. You guys are like a church/faith that does not want any new converts. Even the Jews allow for converts to Judaism. You fellows are so insular that nobody can join you without being from your clans. Yet you want their votes.

    8. Language is used as a separator and not as a unifier by UPND: Lozi, Tonga, Luvale, Lunda, Mbunda … are all interesting languages. What languages do you here people singing in? What languages are the most popular songs sang in? what language do people curse and celebrate in? You fellows don’t share your language or encourage anyone to use or learn it for day to day usage by the common man. Lozi/Tonga/ Luvale/ Lunda people break into “home service” in the presence of others that don’t understand or speak their language and don’t give a fuck what the other people feel. If they knew what effect that has they would never do that.

    Don’t get me wrong guys. I am not saying that you should never speak your lingo. I am saying, teach people your language, teach people your colloquialisms, show people that you are human and that they can fit in with you. Start small. Explain how to say hello, how to insult, how to chuff a chick. Cool stuff. Let there be town Lozi where people are not excluded. Think my guys!
    You can speak Nyanja (a mix from the great east) and Bemba (a mix from the dull north). Who can speak to you?

    Start today, start giving people short lessons in Lozi, Tonga, Luvale, Lunda… Don’t use your language as a weapon because people will pick up that weapon and use it against you. THEY HAVE ALREADY!!!!

    My whole statement here is an indictment to the UPND. Whoever is your communications person(s), please up your game.

  • In democracy we have different views but everyone regardless of the party should condemn lawlessness ,violence and lack of respect for others.Just like in sport there will be winners and losers.We must learn to lose.Losing is painful but we must learn to accept defeat.

  • Mulenga you are not only as pathetic lair, but an idiot as well, who has reduced the price of maize meal – you ignorant fool stop misleading the people, these criminals you are calling leaders have only plundered our resources- It is sad that fools are busy lying, 1. the idiots in government have failed to market the crop that farmers have produced in the bumper harvest 2. these criminals failed to bring down the cost of fertilizer 3. the idiots are not considering that the loss that our farmers have made will result hunger in the following season.

    • comment-avatar
      El Macho 7 months

      Interesting points.

      The whole sub region has recorded bumper harvests. Nobody (bar the Lazy Congolese) is interested in Zambia agricultural products. What people like Mulenga and Jelita don’t understand is the long term effect of this. Explain yourself well my brother so that the gulugufu can understand it.
      Ba Mule’ (which reads as mule or ass or donkey). Low prices of ubunga means that there are low buying prices of maize. The farmers are the ones affected most because instead of selling at K120 a bag, they will sell at K85-95 / bag. THis farmer will have less money to pay off their input loans or buy inputs next season.

      Because of this, next season, expect a drop in production of maize and rise in price of food. There will be scarcity of product as farmers (85% of Zambia’s grain comes from peasant farmers) will be put out of business.

      So as you celebrate, remember to put aside money for your relatives in the village that will request money for fertilizer this year.

      Got it?

  • comment-avatar
    Yotamu 7 months

    It is our country! And after 90 days we are declaring afull state of emergency…Article 30. Especiall if ba mumbwe tabelekele ukutumpa.

    • comment-avatar
      El Diablo 7 months

      Be careful what you wish for. In my language there is a saying that loosely translates to “he who cries for rain, cries for mud”. When then mud comes, I trust that you will be as happy as you are now.

      Ask one of your Catholic brothers/ sisters to send you a copy of the recording of Fr. Lupupa’s homily where he speaks of what happened to the mouse, chicken, goat and cow in relation to the chiefs house and the snake.

      Those that celebrate sadness and misfortune of others will end in misfortune sooner or later.

      “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke

  • irish times mind yo business ur pipo reportin falsely about zambia , who z feedin you with information we want a name

    • comment-avatar
      El Diablo 7 months

      A person that went through school but did not have school go through him is easily identified. You want to identify the person that alerted the publication to the situation here so that you do what?
      Each of us, even your dumb self, is entitled under the constitution and the bill of rights to have an opinion. Even the state of emergency cannot take that right away from you and I.
      You want to threaten people with what? Violence. Well that is a crime, friend.
      You want to cow and silence people? Those are human rights violations my friend.

      When your nephew tell you that you have shit on your face do you beat the child or clean your face?
      Come with something stronger than the “state terrorism” threat. That’s weak sauce!

  • Busy bwatubwatu HEECL is busy reducing prices.alalila uyo cinkonko mwikate

    • comment-avatar
      El Diablo 7 months

      How do you cook a live frog?

      Put it in cold water and slowly heat the water. If you put it in hot water to start with, the frog will jump for its life. A frog will stay in water as the water heats and adjust till it cannot even escape and dies.

      People like you, Mr Bwembya, have little understanding or you deliberately misunderstand your own misfortune in the making.

      You even have the dunderhead-ness to say that the whole president lowered the prices. That means the market has been manipulated by man. That means that the price is artificial. Artificial shit does not last, my foolish friend.

      When you artificially stimulate your genitals and have an orgasm, have you had sex? Does it produce any child? Someone is helping you “ponyo-ponyo” and you’re happy because you came? How dull can you be!


  • Ndeloleshafye. Ndeloleshafye. Ndeloleshafye peter was told by Jesus that his going to denie him by 3 times but peter denie and promise Jesus that even in grave i will be with you my lord do you the reason why ? Peter was blind spiritualy not knowing wat wil come next .and wen the time came he feel the pain even at a distance thats wy he have to denie Jesus .

  • Wrong people, tribalism will not solve any problem concerning the current situation in Zambia, come down and stop making provoking comments and the President will fill pity on some one,

  • We play to God that HH have better life.

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    • comment-avatar
      front and centre 7 months

      Nigerian conmen at work. Engage with them at your own risk. They will surely steal your money

  • what is wrong with this media, don’t they have some other things to write ?

    • comment-avatar
      OneNation 7 months

      No, they don’t. The dictatorship nonsense is an old, broken record now. Nobody takes that word seriously when applied to Zambia now. In fact, we are not in a “State of Emergency” – we are in a “State of Threatened Emergency”. Watchdog may need to remind the Irish.

    • comment-avatar
      front and centre 7 months

      Yes they do.

      They can write praises about PF. They can sing songs for the party and its government. WTF do you think you air head?

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  • mealie meal price is the only important thinking at large to this no food to pfool.

  • Politics being a game do not expect that there will be no faul when being played, it will depend on the referee to handle the game well or bad. We have seen some degrees in the game of soccer red carding players so as to bring discipline in the game. Others handle it in a deferent way with no cards but still the game goes on. A good referee will handle the game in such a way that players should not be intimidated so as to allow players display their skills freely while maintaining order in the game. We have learnt history about kingdoms rising and falling depended on the leadership of the kingdom but with the same people led. In the latter instance was it the people or the leader?

  • Much l know GOD is not quite, where man seems to be hopeless , thats where GOD begins . just watch the space , but lets repent for us to have hope , GOD will intervene surely, the battle belongs to HIM .

  • Lessons Learnt for Zambia.

    1.Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable someone out of sympathy, even if they kneel down, shed tears, always exercise best judgment, don’t let emotions take the best of you by making you to exercise poor judgement.
    2 Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable someone because the masses shout he or she is anointed, humble, the chosen one, the ordained one, righteousness on the throne when they mean that same candidate always check the person’s character, integrity, fruit, competence, proffessionalism, past performance etc.
    3. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable anyone who is surrounded or influenced by cadres or allows cadres to speak for him or her in short elect an independent thinker who is accountable for him/herself, the party’s and Government’s actions and decisions.
    4. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable someone simply because they have been endorsed, check the characters, morals, stability, competence of those endorsing the candidate.
    5. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable someone who becomes busy towards or during election time with Developmental Projects, community and charity gifts, Church appearances this is aimed at targeting your emotions because after elections these activities will reduce or stop.
    6. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable anyone whose close confidants have questionable characters.
    7. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable someone who suddenly becomes wealthy or becomes suddenly far more wealthier than they were before with no proper explanation of how they acquired the quick riches, their goal is to drain the nation’s resources, possibly stash them abroad or in relatives names while you the common person never experience any quality of life or quality delivery of public services. Always exercise good judment when casting your vote and ensure that your vote is counted and protected.
    8. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable anyone who misuses those entrusted to dispense justice and men in uniform in the end you may not have anyone standing up for your justice or to protect you even if nothing affects you today.
    9. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable anyone with a history of suppression, oppression, violence, dictatorship etc you may end up telling stories of regret of how once upon a time Zambia was a peaceful, tolerant, democratic nation.
    10. Never elect or allow those who count votes to select if applicable anyone who has a history of propaganda against others and divisive, imaginary tribal propaganda tactics, you may end up with no national identity, and become a case study for other countries to learn from.
    11.This message does not apply to cadres educated or not who choose not to reason, and instead choose to focus on insults, intimidations and illogical reasoning to defend anything and everything, deny the truth even though it goes against their conscience, but would rather exchange their dignity and that of the nation for a few pieces of silver, insecure positions and insecure recognition.

  • H.E, President Of The Sovereign State Of Our Dear Republic Of Zambia_ E.C.L ,” IF THIS IS DICTATORSHIP, THEN THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA”. Liking this man because he is a patriot. Prof. Patrice Lumumba PLO, KK, Kwame Khuruma, Jomo Kenyata, Madiba Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Robert G. Mugabe and Patrice Lumumba of the then Belgium Congo come and see, we have a President here in Zambia who has stood so tall against a very notorious catail advocating for imprialism ideologies. This man must be given a medal for defending our constitution accordingly, and just a reminder…”When you befriend a scorpion, brace your self for a Very painful hand shake”. You thought you had it easy since he was humble Nooooo, That Was A Miscalculation Too…Now I Can Go To Bed Safely, Knowing that my constitution is in safe hands. Bravo My President!!!!…”Keep your agro wati_wati thing, we will keep our Mother Zambia” In the wise dear words of President Mugabe R. of Zimbambwe…You Can Insult Me Now.

  • Zambia umusebanya wachila mo.

  • Kwiinabulangizi muliba kawalala pfs idiots.

  • Pf they just come to distroy government property marubbishy , foolish ,,hopeless.

  • Don’t forget gehena z coming bass, nobakwesu mumuuya.

  • Peaceful, busy burning gorvement properties, instead of the gorvement focusing on new projects,it has to reconstruct city market,very bad indeed.

  • Bt let him fulfil the prohecie bt ( maawe) to him.

  • We are no longer peace ful in our country were re we going to hide plz .we re asking almight heaven father to helping us.

  • There is no a strong opposition party in Zambia,In the year 2016,UPND tried because of GBM and his tribal cousin BANDA from eastern province, now BANDA is no longer in UPND and GBM is also resigning from the party, forget about MULENGA SATA,GUY SCOTT ,MILES SAMPA,they were busy campaigning for UPND,, where are these guys?In 2016 elections HH forgot all his powerful Guy’s like the Mwitwa,Nkombos, Now today I hear only Garry Nkombo and where are the rest? For get about Nevers Mumbai,let him go back to Maranasa church along kuomboka avenue. and repent coz he is not a politician,now which opposition will compit with Pf as a ruling party?

    • So what? How is this related to the problem at hand?.

    • small brain like of a dinosur

    • You don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you read comments like this, no wonder Donald Trump said Africa needs to be recolonised again, with illiterates like this

    • i pity upnd

    • It’s GO PF GO ECL

    • comment-avatar
      mailon 7 months

      Boyd Ngambi
      If there is anything between your ears the comments above will leave you embarrassed but typical of PF you dont even realise how stupid you sound.

  • I doubt if da man in question cn shut his mouth properly ie my doubt comes in upon takin’ a closer look at his Dental formula, It simz he’s havin’ more than da required 32 teeth makin’ da lips difficulties in accomodatin’ them.. Any stupid PF Cadre to deny it.

    • These insults do not solve our problems. Stop attacking ECL for nothing. Attack the problems and the issues at hand. Insults are nothing but just an expression of personal hatred of the other human being. I repeat discuss the issues and not the persons in the debate. God bless my country.

    • Get lost with your ECL, I personally, I hate him with passion. God give and God takes, wait en see..

    • Banda Polo ya uso nini yamako

    • Chinyanta batate bako chipolo chimozi nichikulu na bamai bako chinini ku period, Fuseki iwe, coz you’re a wasted sperm frm da Hernia infested polo, atase imbwa iwe…

  • “Ati Zambians Have Always Wanted Democracy”~?

  • Hiring Greg Mills and Nic Cheeseman known agents of imperialism and you think you can win sympathy by voters? Where which African country? Its an easy battle, you will just be labelled as unpatriotic traitors of their own countries. Puppets of muzungu anikonde

  • Kikikikiki, your friend is busy reducing the price of mealie meal, you are busy calling him dictator. Wait and see for 2021, it will be a landslide!! If I recall very well, was it not the same UPND who campaigned against bill of rights? Which one is dictator? Pipo are not blind and Zambia has moved away from such cheap politics. Go back to the drawing board UPND and reflect on your failures other than depending on diarrhoeaial propaganda. Can’t u just see for yourselves that you are now a finished and out-dated forum ba watchdog? Those days each post attracted thousands of comments, but now even reaching 50 comments it’s a struggle. Learn to report on balanced papers. Otherwise, you will finish like a dead lock!

    • So for you bwana Zambia is developed .

    • His a cadre never mind

    • You are possessed.

    • You can’t miss what you can’t measure. Zambia is now a dictatorship but you can’t see it because you have never known anything better

    • My brothers, you need eye aids to see properly. Am not a cadre, if I am, then am cadre with Zambia at heart, not YOU blind and tribal Cadres! When were you born? Have you got developmental history of Zambia at hand? Have u compared How PF has worked within this past handful of years with other political parties who have been in power before? Zambia is developing in case you are still under tribal armpits. Wake up and support what is right! Do you know dictatorship you? Can u even open that mouth which was born yesterday to call the president sorts of names? Even in big countries where they support Democracy, can HH do such unthinkable and selfish act and be scort free? You should even thank God your HH is still alive after that incident. Sleep, and wake up! Maybe you will reboot your senses. Logical thinking and thinking are two different leaner halves. It takes noble ones to separate politics from development. You enemies of progress! Seleniko tubombeko.

    • Ulimbwa sana iwewine ati mwelwa ayi you are the same people who are busy deceiving your president that things they ok in the country whilst not and as things continue in the same way untill 2021 who is going to give your president onather mandate to run the affairs of this country well i do not see anyone apart from you

    • Brother munyenyembe, when u fail to buy bread for your family, it doesn’t mean the country is not developing, just work hard because that is what God wants! You must sweat for food, says God. Don’t be lazy just reading what watchdog will write about PF. Work first, then during your free time, u can read such propaganda. If you will wait for food from government, my friend u will wait until no more. It doesn’t need one to go for a degree course to trace the development of our country.

    • Wow …Mr. Mwelwa That is a cool and very objective way to debate. ati…”logical thinking is different from just thinking”. nice one. They are bitter…Eish!

    • the reduction of mealie meal price has nothing to do with the government playing a hand,the country has recorded good yield in the maize grain or in other words bumper havest,the pf led government its gambling its governance.i move alot and were have been pipo are suffering teribly prices in comodities remain high,i rest my case.

    • what are you smoking over there?

    • Uyo Ni Carder Wa Pf

    • Chikala After Twasobola Efwesu Ok Tukamo Mumaisa

    • ifilimwa ifya pala imisalu nafi tamato file onaka mwelwa isa kuno ku main masala market ku ndola abakwete ipiya mu chalo na bachepa nangu ulime shani kuichushafye

    • its true the pf government has done a lot for Zambia but once you become on the opposing side this guys are heartless they can kill you

    • Try some other staff, Who in his right senses can rush to masala market to buy veg while having healthy veg in his back yard garden. try winter maize and so on.

    • he dont even know the reason why mealie meal prices were reduced but he is calling normal people to be cadres wake also i think u are not u. Farmers are complaining bitterly because of crop prices then bamudaala u are saying things are okey, that’s how armpits support looks like. Supporting blindly.


    • Ur talks,thinkins,idears,everlything u writ and say at ur on time has northing to do with da PF PRESD ECL and UPND PRESD HH,it is time 4 PF let PRESD ECL test his sweat and enjoy his leadership,pa mwaaaaaa…too…..ooooo!but pf pleaz relezy ur leader HH,Let him out so that hi wil how u rule da Nation Zambia.

    • Which people are you talking about iwe Mulenga.Bushe ni Zambia yaba wiso or yaba Noko iwe……Are you the spokesperson of Zambian people?Come on!

    • Gud morning brothers, hope you had sweet dreams. I don’t know why you think HH will come and buy food for your homes, I still don’t understand why u think HH will make u rich overnight. I still don’t understand why u think HH will come and control prices on the market. Let’s think like men not like cry babies!

    • dreaming abt some stinking coment

    • from a thick skull n filthy mind

    • Brother Golden, U must have bin behind. Don’t u know that Zambia is our own mother land? Why should you then tell me that this is not my father’s country? Kikikikiki, think b4 u argue! Why should u ask if am the spokesman for the pipo, are u on the other side a spokesboy for the poor ? Have u ever seen a country where pipo don’t face challenges? Is that country in your dreams? Why do u hate our president? What has he done wrong? Don’t drag everything to political mud. Let’s call a spade a spade , not a spade a knife. We give credit where it is due.

    • Mulenga Mwelwa Joseph, you’re the man thanks you’ve taken them on. Pump sense in them

    • Will see which farmer will grow maize for him at a loss.

    • Its because of Zicta thats why we are quite

    • sir life is not all about food. transport costs are high n the dollar is so high. even the cost of doin business is high. ZRA is demanding a lot of money and u say everything is ok!

    • Lol…. Ubukopo……

  • The 48 UPND MPs did not boycott the vote on the State of Emergency. They were not in parliament following their suspension for boycotting President Lungu’s Official address of parliament. Thought the Irish Embassy was still in Zambia!

  • That face ,no no

  • Whatever goes up will always come down and nothing lives for ever. Whatever one plants will always be reaped. Only time will tell the atrocity story and the evils our people have gone through. Watch and wait!

    • Pray hard that you do not wait forever. Remeber that, God also consinders one’s heart. We too are praying enestly.


    • Kambwili is a all lot different figure. With him, loyalty defines a man…he is tough. You wont have it easy with him too.H.E, ECL then CK. Be prepared for a painful handshake though.

  • First to comment. SONTA