17th December 2019
It doesn’t have to take a very intelligent person to predict what Edgar Lungu will say each time he visits Southern Province nor what his demeanour would be. Even a grade 7 learner would recite well beforehand what the President’s remarks and what his mood would be even before his squadron of fancy Airforce choppers make their landing anywhere in the Province.
If Mr Lungu wants to genuinely win the hearts of Souteweherners which he appears to be desperately attempting to, let him first start by stopping insulting their collective intelligence. Let him stop the patronage and treating them as kindergarten children or squatters, settlers and aliens on their own land. Let him desist from giving an impression as though he owes them a favour for being Zambian citizens and that he is their colonizer who they can only ignore at their own peril.
How does he think the people of Southern Province feel to be repeatedly bombarded with his rhetoric that one of their kinsmen is not fit to be President, at his pleasure? And the President is telling this to a people that has been persistently and collectively abused over the years by his own senior party leadership and state machinery, through various utterances and actions, that depict them as subhuman and unfit to be citizens.
And yet Mr Lungu has failed or has deliberately ignored to condemn such threats to national security and unity. Southerners view the abuse that they are being subjected to, as similar to what Hakainde Hichilema has experienced and so they easily relate to him along these hurtful experiences, which the PF mistake to be tribalism. The Presidential handlers are doing a poor job and even if Mr Lungu changed his strategy today, it would be too little too late. The PF abuse and humiliation has radicalized the people of Southern Province and it would take a monumental effort to change heart and minds this late in the piece.