By Patrick Sikana
Dear Former President Edgar Lungu,
You’re a wretch. I don’t say that lightly.
I say this out of concern. You’re a candidate for an honourable title “Father of the Nation” and as such, I fervently want you NOT to be a wretch.
But all the evidence from your infamous “hypocrisy” interview suggests that you are one. By the way, the Oxford dictionary offers two renditions in defining that word- wretch.
The first is “a person that you feel sorry for.” The second is “an evil, unpleasant or annoying person.” Take your pick, Dr Lungu, because, while in some people’s mind you were almost becoming the “Father of the Nation,” in mine you’re officially a wretch.
In fact, those two meanings are the modern, more generous meanings.
Back in the 16th century, a “wretch” meant a “dormant volcano” which, trust me, is where you’re now heading if you don’t accept your new status as a “Former President Who Lost an Election by a Gulf”. An emotionally dormant volcano, waiting for the slightest opportunity to erupt some vitriol. Shame.
Dr. Nevers Mumba shared a good definition of a hypocrite yesterday on his timeline. But let me offer an alternative.
Suppose, Mr. President, you have two employees. One applies for Sabbatical Leave which you approve. She goes away to explore the world for years. This is called good “absenteeism.” You know they are away. You can plan for their absence.
But then you have the other employee who is in their office 8-5 every workday, but doing nothing. All the performance indicators are declining but they are in the office daily. That is called “presenteeism”. Present but doing little or nothing. Pretending to be working, when in fact not. That is the version of hypocrisy I wanted to remind you of, Dr. Lungu. You were that second employee all your 7 years in the statehouse. Waking up in plot 1 everyday and watching our country descend into tribal segments and the economy go down the drain. Yet you were humbly present at the helm. All that time.
Let’s get real. That remark was not about Zambians, in general, being hypocrites. In fact, it is the practice across cultures worldwide for people to say good things upon someone’s death. The reason is simple. We had the chance to say the bad ones while they were alive and had a chance to change (like I am doing to you now).
Your remark was directed at President HH. Now, for the record, I think you have every right to express your displeasure if indeed you feel the president is being two-faced. However, you ought to have the emotional maturity to recognize that both the timing and the medium were not appropriate.
I don’t know whether or not HH is a hypocrite. One thing I know, however, is that he is desperately trying to reunite the country and he is making progress. Please don’t be a party pooper. Your days of being half asleep at the wheel or dreaming wistfully of a third term are over. There is a country to rebuild. Call the president directly, if you must, and air your dissatisfaction to him, but by all means, do not undermine the goodwill, because, for all we know, you should probably be in solitary confinement, accounting for the excesses of your time in power.
There is finally light at the end of the dark PF tunnel, and Zambia has a leader bursting with energy and positivity to seize that light and drag us into a bright new future. The kind of leader that you were not, the past seven years.
Stop being a wretch, Edgar, and start rehabilitating your legacy, or admit that losing an election you believed was a walk-over was simply too much for you. We have seasoned counselors.
Yours in good faith