A letter to all Zambians to stop President Lungu from eviscerating democracy in Zambia

Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa
July 18, 2016

To Fellow Zambians,

I read with great sadness the news of July 18, 2016 where it was reported that President Lungu through his military and airforce henchmen and women have chased GBM and his entourage out of Luapula because Lungu himself was going to be there and no other party should be campaigning in the same province. I have heard this nonsense before when Airforce Commander Chimense had decreed that when the President is using the airspace anywhere in Zambia, the opposition must be on the ground or nowhere near. This is political insanity.

I have lived in many democracies( including the USA, Canada, Tanzania and travelled to a great more countries during their elections)  for forty years and I have never heard of this insane evisceration of democracy. This period is the ultimate time to express the ultimate in what democracy is all about, to campaign everywhere and anyhow without limitation as long as it is done  without violence, fraud, bribery, corruption, rigging, and all types of underhandedness. If you have the means to fly or drive anywhere in the country, you must be able to do so without any limitation. Who the hell do Lungu and Chimense think they are sending a message that they own this country! Yes they are President and Airforce General respectively at the present time, but they don’t own this country. They can’t impose something that is not in the constitution. This is illegal and lawless. If they can do this during a supposed democratic election, imagine what they are capable of doing after elections if they win and rule for the next five years. They are violating the law now, when they should be supplicants, imagine after!

Check the constitution. Lungu and Chimense are on a major campaign power grab using illegal and lawless means. It is not in the constitution that only Lungu should be allowed to campaign alone  in any part of Zambia. Why did he go to Luapula when he knew GBM was already there? It is not anywhere in the constitution that when the President is in the air, democracy for others must cease and defer to Lungu’s under the sufferance that your flying licence will be suspended or revoked. Where did this idiocy come from? From Museveni, Mugabe or Kagame or Kabila? Presidents Kaunda, Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Banda never tried to grab the airspace like Lungu has arrogated for himself. This is an accidental President and he is developing into a tin-pot dictator. Zambians, don’t let your hard fought and maintained democracy be demobilized by an accidental President surrounded by a few power hungry bandits.

This is a killer regime. It kills peaceful demonstrating opposition members, it’s brutal police force illegally cancels campaign rallies of the opposition claiming that it does not have the manpower yet sends in reinforcements whenever the opposition is holding a rally. This is the police force that is totally taken over by PF cadres. It is a cadre police force. The Army, Airforce and ZRA are also instruments of the state.

This government has not translated the referendum question and the Bill of Rights into local languages so that the people can have an understanding of what they will be casting their vote on. This is a surreptitious method of winning an election. Personally the Bill of Rights is a progressive document but the method of bringing it about must be done properly and not the way it is being  done now. There is a hidden agenda. If Lungu is violating the constitution that is already existing, what will stop him from violating the Bill of Rights when at that time, he will have nothing to lose. There is no deterrence against Lungu at all.

Lungu is a danger to democracy. Chimense is a danger to democracy. The bandits surrounding them are a danger to democracy. Zambians should forcefully assert their democratic and constitutional rights.

GBM should not have left Luapula. He should have continued to fly regardless because what Lungu and Chimense are doing  is illegal and unconstitutional. Any Constitutional Court or Supreme Court judge who is not compromised and is worthy his or her salt would not fail to find that Lungu and Chimense  are lawless in their power grab of Zambian airspace. And power on the ground.

Henry Thoreau, a Philosopher, devised the concept of civil disobedience to resist illegal violations of people’s constitutional rights by aspiring lawless dictators. This device has been used all over the world to fight slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Gandhi, Mandela, Kaunda, Martin Luther King Jr. all used this powerful device. It is time to use this device in Zambia in the remaining days of this eviscerated democracy or it will be too late. The device is legally defensible. Lungu and Chimense’s constitutional violations are indefensible. Democracy must be defended by any means necessary. Zambia Shall Be Free. And Thoughts Are Free.

Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches law at the Zambian Open University School of Law, and is the author of the book, Thoughts Are Free: Prison Experience and Reflections on Law and Politics in General. This book is found at the Planet Books at Arcades in Lusaka.