By Dr Given Mutinta
When a person says one thing and does another, he or she is a hypocrite.
President Edgar Lungu’s call for national unity is a very important gesture because national unity is a precondition for national development.
Besides, politics has been a linchpin in the erosion of national unity in Zambia.
Competing for political leadership has regrettably led to obnoxious political behaviour and pernicious national outcomes such as regionalism, tribalism and disunity.
Take as an example, what Lungu told Malambo residents during a political rally as he was drumming up support for the Patriotic Front (PF) candidate Jack Shuma. Lungu openly told Malambo residents that; “Wako ni wako, Shuma is my son and I can only work with Shuma, not anybody else. I am not forcing you to vote for Shuma, the choice is yours and I do not care whether you decide to vote for somebody else but it will be difficult to work with him because he is not my child.”
Yes, you got it right, that is what Lungu said!
He is also on record of telling nonconformist voices within and outside PF that he would crush and fall on them like a tonne of baked bricks from the tower of Babel.
It is the same Lungu who remained mute when the PF Secretary General Davies Chama and her Deputy Mumbi Phiri at different occasions subjected Tongas to hate speech by referring to them as “polygamist” and “ba kacema” respectively inciting prejudicial thoughts and action against Tongas. Not long ago he openly threatened to kill the Post Newspaper Editor in Chief Fred M’membe for criticizing his leadership.
So, what unity is Lungu talking about with this divisive attitudes.
Has Lungu re-examined his actions and feeling contrite for his divisive behaviour for him to call for national unity?
If Lungu has not repented from his divisive behaviour, the call for the national day of prayer and fasting on 18th October is another act meant to deceive the easy to fool masses. If Lungu is not committed to personal change and the resolve to live a responsible and unifying life, the day of prayer and fasting is in vain.Without conversion on Lungu’s part, what will stop him from sending cadres and the police to brutalise people in regions such as Solwezi that are dissatisfied with his leadership as he did a few days ago?
As Zambians, we need to see Lungu as he really is; a remarkable hypocrite who publicly upholds the moral norm of unity particularly for others to follow, but personally violating the same norm in his conduct.
Hypocrisy will not get Lungu very far in his presidency especially when hypocrisy abuses prayer and fasting. Besides, there are few things that the public dislike more than a hypocrite.
Does this sound as if I am saying that only people with absolutely no weaknesses should run for the presidency? No, absolutely not! As far as I know, perfect leaders simply do not exist on this planet, earth. My contention is that it is wrong for Lungu to make the issue of unity a central theme of his political discourses when he has never placed importance on unity in his life. If Lungu trumpets about unity but does not ever subscribe to this norm, then the call for unity does not pass the credibility test and therefore a sheer waste of time.
Authenticity in politics like in other fields is important to the public and voters. It is unwise for Lungu to think that Zambians are immensely gullible to distinguish between consistency and inconsistency in his behaviour. For how long will Lungu continue to “act unity” when his actions reveal his true colours of a divisive leader? If this country was a Christian nation by virtue not by declaration, Lungu’s assumption of a false appearance of unity, with dissimulation of his real character would not be allowed to lead this Christian nation. Convention wisdom holds that our religion is what we do when the sermon is over. Even after the national day of prayer and fasting Lungu will continue to rule through violent and divisive leadership patterns. Lungu should not preach about unity when it suits him. The Call for unity should be consistent with his day-to-day behaviour.
As a noble society, we should censure leadership styles anchored on deception in a non-moral domain as it is ethically problematic because it involves treachery.
Lungu’s hypocrisy does not necessarily refer to failing to practice unity. His hypocrisy signals that he does not believe in unity he is preaching to the masses.
Therefore, the main issue is that Lungu is promoting unity in bad faith, not the failure to practice per se.
It is this first version of hypocrisy addressed by Jesus in the Scriptures when says of the Pharisees, whom he calls hypocrites; “Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them”(Matthew 23:3).
Like Pharisees, the so called national day of prayer and fasting is an act of moral posturing. Deep down in his heart Lungu and his bloody thirsty minions are not ready to pay the price for unity by letting go their violent and divisive behaviour.
This is what makes the proposed day of prayer and fasting a psychological cover-up of his evil intentions and failure to lead the country.
You cannot be a good leader when you are engaging in morality enacted not with an eye to produce a right outcome for all Zambians but in order to appear moral so as to satisfy your ulterior and self-serving political motives. What will Lungu gain by making grand claims about the importance of unity, when he is violating the same claims he is promoting?
If Zambia is really a Christian nation, how will Christians allow themselves to be whitewashed by Lungu’s self-servicing intention by claiming the unity high road with little resolve to follow through? We have a duty as citizens to admonish leaders whose judgments and intentions are influenced by situational manipulations demonstrating the opportunistic, self-serving use of morality, prayer, fasting, religion and God.