“Why Edgar Lungu?” I had been asked, by my friends, why Edgar Lungu ended up being the PF presidential candidate. This writing I did is some excerpt dealing with Why, in the conflict, within PF, around the Zambia’s Presidential by-election of January 2015, Edgar Lungu came out with much support amongst members of PF and the public. I wrote this and shared with friends. This was written with a focus on internal PF situation and how that affected them. The topic of Elections 2016 and inter-party contesting, I will deal with at some other point but very soon. ………Thank You. GCB, LUSAKA.
Some persons have asked me why Edgar Lungu emerged the preferred candidate within PF and the public. The reasons are many but will include various issues. Edgar Lungu was considered to have been in good favour of the Fifth president, Michael Chilufya Sata. Sata gave Lungu key positions within the PF party and government. When Wynter Kabimba was removed as Secretary General of PF, the position was given to Edgar Lungu. Besides the party position, Edgar was, unusually, was, unusually, given two ministerial positions: that of Defence and Justice.
Key for his supporters within PF, was that Michael Sata made Edgar Lungu to act as state President while Sata was out of the country. In fact, some ministers like Dr Joseph Katema have said that President Sata insisted on handing over the instruments of state authority to Edgar Lungu before he could leave Zambia for medical attention abroad.
Other factors in favour of Edgar Lungu’s candidature and his rising appeal amongst many non-PF members of the public was that many members of the public became sympathetic to Edgar when Guy Scott and team within PF were acting against the Secretary General. It is possible that without the actions against him, his backing from the public could have been less.
An important factor in the support for Edgar Lungu was his perceived personality. Edgar Lungu was considered to be modest, somewhat gentle, and showing some humility, and therefore likely to be a considerate and listening ruler, a servant of the public rather than an aloof master and boss.
We must remember that Edgar Lungu was coming out as a contrast to some other officials within the PF. Other many PF officials supporting him seem to have felt that this time it was important to present a candidate who was by character accepted and admired by more across Zambia.
We must remember that in rural Zambia, character – especially of the humility, humble, fair, and service type – is greatly respected and promoted. The one who demonstrates tolerance and patience when faced by attacks or stress will be considered a more respected person and winner.
And people in Zambia’s rural tend to turn out for voting. The women tend to come out in large numbers to vote – although where there is violence, many women will keep away from the voting booth.
In many parts of Zambia and Africa, and even Asia, when there is a vacancy, one who would be a leader or ruler will not offer and promote them self. It must be others around you who have confidence in you who should point out that you must be the leader to take the position.
In many cultures, it is rude and not very cultured to show a lot of the “I” in your move towards public office. One must be a provider of service who is proposed by others to be a leader or ruler. Many persons make the mistake of openly promoting themselves when seeking office. That may work in cultures in America but is not respected by many in Zambia’s cultures.
A leader must appear self less. Edgar Lungu was emerging as a person of choice by the people, not one who was by ambition driving himself to some public seats. Edgar Lungu would be different from the image of the Patriotic Front being a party of tough acting persons.
At the same time, Edgar Lungu was considered one who would follow on with programmes under Michael Sata, thus getting him the support of those who were pro-Sata and wanted a feeling of stability through continuity. Edgar Lungu was careful not to make remarks that attack late Michael Sata. In the cultures of Zambia and others, one must show respect to elders and deceased and can only address issues without openly attacking an elder or deceased person.
In fact, one of Edgar Lungu’s appeals to many was to express that he did not have his own vision but was carrying forward the vision there around Michael Sata. This was not weakness but considered a strength in local cultures. In Kenya, President Arap Moi had talked about “Nyayo,” continuity with programmes of the late Jomo Kenyatta. It avoids the image of a radical rebellion or revolution against a predecessor and their supporters.
Edgar Lungu, having been born and grown up on the Copperbelt, also appealed to a huge segment of voters – those on the Copperbelt. They would consider Edgar one of them. That Copperbelt support could extend to nearby areas of Central Province, Luapula, and even Northern provinces.
Thus for many in the rural and urban areas, Edgar Lungu was a person they could understand, feel at home with. We must also remember that a lot of “Ba Kopala” had since 1991 migrated to the huge urban centre of Lusaka. Thus, besides other Lusaka residents, there were bound to be many Copperbelt migrant linked pro-Edgar votes in Lusaka.
Because of his roles and positions in PF and government and because of his character, Edgar Lungu was more likely to appeal to many voters across Zambia than some other PF officials. It was likely that, as a party in government, and even with some members of PF having left the party or campaigning against him, if many voters turned up to vote, the contest between Edgar Lungu and other candidates may be very tight. ………../GCB, Lusaka..
(MORE WILL FOLLOW, ON COMING ELECTIONS, 2016)