By Dr Given Mutinta
The republic of Zambia is a member of the United Nations as evidenced by the ratified United Nations human rights conventions.
As a result, we have binding international commitments to abide by the standards set down in the universal human rights agreements.
One of the commitments is the establishment that the authority of any leader or president should be based on the will of the people as expressed in free and fair elections.
This is one of the commitments the former president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo abrogated in his attempt to hold on to power after losing elections to Alassane Ouattara.
The scuffle started when the Independent Electoral Commission of Ivory Coast released results showing that Ouattara had won the elections. However, the Constitutional Council headed by Gbagbo’s cronies illegally declared Gbagbo as the winner of the elections.
Gbagbo was illegally sworn in using a corrupt judicial system and refused to hand over power to Ouattara the legitimate winner.
His refusal to handle over power led to a bitter civil war in which hundreds of Ivorians were killed. Gbagbo was however defeated by mainly civilian fighters backed by the French and United Nations attack helicopters. Forces stormed the bunker where he hung on to power and arrested him.
Ahead of Gbagbo’s arrest, the United States Secretary of State by then Hillary Clinton had issued a statement warning dictators that disregarding the voice of their own people in free and fair elections so as to cling to power comes with consequences.
Alas, many leaders have ignored this wise counsel, and Lungu is dangerously on a path to do so.
Lungu is on record of threatening to sort out the opposition using the armed forces as Commander-in-Chief if they refuse to concede defeat in the elections. This is an indication that he has predetermined election results in which he is the winner. In particular, he condescendingly said that he will sort out Hakainde Hichilema:
“HH NGA AKANA UKUSUMINA AMA RESULTS AKAMONA EFYO NKAMUCITA. TAULAINGILA MU CHIBANSA, TAMULATEYA NABOLA, WAYAMBA UKULANDA ATI INE NGANALUSA NSHAKASUMINE (IF HH REFUSES TO ACCEPT THE RESULTS, HE WILL SEE WHAT I WILL DO TO HIM. WHOEVER WILL NOT ACCEPT THE RESULTS WILL SEE WHAT I WILL DO TO THEM”.
At the same occasion he openly ranted that:
“I WAS WITH THE POLICE COMMAND AT STATE HOUSE YESTERDAY, I REBUKED THEM. NALIBEBA ATI GUYS, BOMBELENIPO APA. I HELD A MEETING WITH THE COMMAND AT STATE HOUSE AND I SAID NABATUDELELA BA OPPOSITION UKUTUMPA KWACHILAMO (THE OPPOSITION IS UNDERRATING US; THIS STUPIDITY HAS GONE TOO FAR TO BE TOLERATED. I EXPECT POLICE TO IMPROVE FROM TOMORROW”.
As if not enough to show that he has set out on a blood-spattered war path with the opposition, he blatantly showed disdain of the foreign election observers in the country when he said that he does not care about their presence.
In Mufulira, he again threatened the opposition, and the private media saying that:
“I WILL BE FORCED TO ACT AND ACT VERY VICIOUSLY. I WILL NOT CHOOSE DEMOCRACY OVER PEACE. IF THE PEACE OF THIS COUNTRY IS THREATENED I WILL BE FORCED TO INTRODUCE DRACONIAN MEASURES”.
Lungu’s threats are improper and exceedingly dangerous to our democracy. He has put it clearly on the table that he is not willing to accept electoral defeat and his threats should not be taken casually by the public and the international community.
The arrogance leaking from his statements shows that he has put in place an oppressive and hitleric machinery to subdue people.
If Lungu loses the elections and decides to hold on to power, he will make history in Zambia and Southern Africa to be the first head of State to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
Zambians have given Lungu enough rope to hang himself by allowing him to abuse the privilege they gave him to lead them.
Reminiscent of Gbagbo, he has buddies working for the Electoral Commission of Zambia in a ploy to announce him as the winner of the elections. More to the point, he has appointed his cronies as judges to swear him in so as to make his maneuver to illegally stay in power if he loses the elections possible.
Knowing his lack of respect for the constitution, human rights and international agreements, it will not be surprising to read his tragic story.
He has no reason both at home and abroad to justify his scheme not to hand over power if he loses the elections
At home he has broken the economy and very soon basic conditions and responsibilities of government will longer work well.
Abroad he has poor diplomatic relations with the international community that are not translating into economic developments.
Therefore, retaining Lungu after 11th August the economy will grow weaker more than it is and the standard of living will fall off and this will introduce the possibility of governmental collapse like in Zimbabwe.
Therefore, Lungu has no real reason to hold on to power apart from a story of being greedy and getting drunk with power he is using with his minions to plunder and misrule the country.
As a lawyer and young leader, no one expected him to exploit, oppress and cause death of many people with impunity.
His tyrannical style of leadership is a disgrace to our country. He has failed to behave like a contemporary head of State.
His political path is the same with of Gbagbo’s embarrassing story which is also the story of Yoweri Museveni, Robert Mugabe, and other cruel leaders.
If Lungu continues on this path of tyranny, he will join the list of leaders who should be on trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity.
Lungu should not make a mistake to hold on to power if he loses the elections because the day of reckoning will surely come in the fullness of time like it did to Gbagbo.
What is sad is that it took the French alliance with the United Nations to stop Gbagbo’s killings and arrest him as the African Union was sleeping like a log.
Allowing Gbagbo to stay in power at the expense of thousand Ivorian lives shows that most of the decisions of the African Union are not in the best interests of the ordinary Africans, but serves the selfish interests of leaders who are determined to continue with their barbaric exploitation of their people with impunity.
If Lungu loses the elections and refuses to hand over power, all men and women of goodwill in this country must rise and challenge his illegitimate and selfish act which will only heighten the culture of impunity.
The African Union and the United Nations should be at the highest level of alert to flex its muscle by joining hands with democratic peace loving Zambians to dissuade the pending carnage.
What else does the African Union and United Nations want to hear and see if Lungu’s threats and people killed are not compelling enough to seriously address what is happening in Zambia?
The short time Lungu has been in power he has shown his true colours of a typical African leader who is invariably a dictator. He has lamentably failed to heed the rule of law and listen to any counsel.
Let him take a leaf on Gbagbo who lost the elections, but rejected the verdict of the Ivorian people and attempted to impose himself on the people and expected to get away with it.
The gallant and patriotic people of this country like people of Ivory Coast should deservedly bring down anyone who will try to impose himself or herself on the people after losing the elections.
Let Lungu use Mugabe and Museveni’s elections rigging templates and abuse security wings to rule people without consent, and he will fully deserve what will happen to him.