Police storm ex Zambian president Lungu’s home

Many African presidents have allegedly tried to prolong their grip on power for fear of being persecuted by their successors.

In some cases, they use all tricks in the book to remain in power, some of the tricks used are illegal.

Apparently, a number of incoming presidents have given their predecessors assurances that they won’t be persecuted after leaving offices.

But, is that possible, some may ask, should a president tell courts what to do?

Many have argued that in democratic societies there should be separation power, and as such presidents should not meddle in the work of the judiciary.

Apparently, prominent Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono recently took a swipe at Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema after police besieged his predecessor Edgar Lungu’s home.

“What happened today in Zambia where former President Edgar Lungu’s home was besieged by police with guns, cameras in tow and the use of a grinder to open his residence gate is something out of a movie.

“I was taught about how irresponsible this kind of action can be when I was studying at City University in London on a course on inhibitions to clean political transitions after elections, as part of my Masters degree in International Journalism.

“President Hakainde Hichilema’s actions against his predecessor were reckless and destabilizing, because they happen at a time when down to his south in Zimbabwe, there will be a general election in 2 months time,” said Chin’ono.

He added that this came a week after Hichilema’s government gave warning that it was de-registering the former President’s party in 7 days, a political party that is now the country’s main opposition party in parliament.

“On assuming power, President Hichilema fired Zambian army generals.

“He was oblivious to the effect this would have on his neighbor, Zimbabwe, it created anxiety within the State security sector in Zimbabwe.

“Populist decisions are short lived, leaders must be sensitive to the ramifications of their actions on others around them.

“Today’s drama would have instilled the fear of God in many African dictators who might otherwise have agreed to go after losing elections.

“African presidents must not be made to fear leaving office, especially over trivial issues.

“President Hichilema’s transition to power was a negotiated deal as Lungu tried to reject the election results after losing to Hichilema..

“The deal had guarantees and conditions, and it gave assurances against retribution on former President Edgar Lungu, perceived or real.

“Such deals are important to Africans as Africa evolves into a democratic space, and must be upheld, otherwise they will lose meaning when there is a need to implement them in a country like Zimbabwe and beyond.

“Why did today’s drama happen, it was over a private dispute of 3 cars, like seriously?

“When Zimbabwe wanted to embark on a land reform program in the late 1980s into the early 1990s, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia warned Robert Mugabe against doing such a thing, because the timing was bad.

“Kaunda reminded Mugabe that South Africa was still to get its independence from the apartheid regime, and that actions that might instill fear in the racist South African regime were politically counterproductive and irresponsibly naive!

“What happened today falls into such a category of political naivety driven by short term populist reasons and gains of wanting to be seen to be tough, yet the consequences from the fallout that the ordinary eye can’t immediately see can be huge and far reaching.

“Whatever the motivation for today’s actions, mature political leadership should not have send a battalion of armed police with cameras in tow to a former head of state’s residence and embarrassing him by trying to cut open his iron gate with a grinder.

“It was totally unnecessary, and politically naive as this could have been dealt with through phone calls or just summoning the former First Lady to the police station because the cars were assumed to be in her custody.

“President Hichilema is seen as a progressive President who many look up to, he should not create sympathy for former President Lungu through such irresponsible actions that lack political tact.

“Lungu doesn’t deserve it, but he is now getting it.

“Today’s actions seemingly point towards retribution to some, something that Zambia and the region doesn’t need.

“Such actions create rigged elections.

“Hichilema should remember how Fredrick Chiluba badly treated Kenneth Kaunda, sending him to jail, it instilled the fear of God in many African Presidents resulting in refusal to go.

“The late Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere said at the time of Kaunda’s incarceration, Africa needed leaders with wisdom and not driven by acts of vengeance because the damage can take generations to undo,” said Chin’ono.

In the same light, lawyer Lovemore Madhuku once argued that Job Sikhala’s repeated failure to get bail from the Judiciary could only be resolved through political negotiation with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, at the time, many argued that such school of thought was nonsensical.

They further argued that given the authoritarian nature of the current regime, it meant that millions would need to negotiate with the regime to guarantee their rights.

Many analysts based their argument on the fact that, in a democracy, the court had to be the final arbiter, not politicians.

And political analyst Elder Mabhunu says assurances by sitting presidents that their predecessors would not face persecution is just a pie in the sky.

He says sitting presidents could sent police to go after their predecessors, or opponents and appear to distance themselves from the acts of the law enforcement agents.

“If you approach Mnangagwa to release Job Sikhala or Jacob Ngarivhume, he will tell you that he has no power to tell the police or the courts what to do.

“He will tell you that he respects the separation of powers,” he says.