A New Hope for an Impoverished African Nation?

A New Hope for an Impoverished African Nation?

Photo courtesy of Lusaka Times, https://www.dropbox.com/s/nsg3bvzb4v7gghm/Screen%20Shot%202020-11-12%20at%206.15.32%20PM.png?dl=0

 

Like many other African nations, Zambia has had its toil with corruption. Just two years ago, Zambia’s economical development funding by the U.K. was halted due to mishandling and corruption concerns. Along with the U.K., other European countries such as Ireland, Finland and Sweden stopped sending in their aid according to an article by BBC News. The article also mentioned how $4.3 million had gone missing from the Social Cash Transfer Programme. The money was obviously not distributed to the general public as it was intended, according to the BBC News article.

More than 58% of Zambia’s population lives below the international poverty line, according to the World Bank. Inflation is also at an all-time high in the country. Trading Economics listed Zambia’s inflation rate as 6%. The disparity of the dollar to kwacha value is immense; 20 kwacha is equal to just a single dollar, according to Markets Insider. Upon observing the condition of the country, one can plainly see the luxurious lifestyle of President Lungu compared to the average civilian. For example, Lungu was recently spotted buying a luxurious private jet. According to the Lusaka Times, Lungu is currently building a shopping complex in the Kitwe area of Zambia while people are suffering. It makes one wonder whether the priorities of the country are being taken seriously. Upon observing the general population of Zambia, it’s evident that there is disdain for Lungu. A Zambian article entitled Live With Spirit recently quoted leaders of the three biggest Christian Church bodies of Zambia condemning Lungu. They stated that,Zambia eminently qualifies to be branded a dictatorship. The fact of the matter is that only leadership that does not have the will of the people on its side or thinks it does not have the will of the people on its side uses state institutions to suppress that same will of the people.” The question of how he’s still in power remains. 

Before he was president, Edgar Lungu was part of Michael Sata’s cabinet, Zambia’s previous president, during which time he served as Minister of Justice and Defense. After Sata’s death in 2014, Lungu became the candidate for the Patriotic Front and was officially sworn into office in January 2016. Like other candidates who hope to capture a presidency, Lungu appealed to the public with his charisma and promises to continue to uphold Zambia’s legacy as one of the world’s largest copper producers. It’s evident from the downward spiral of the country that he didn’t fulfill his promises. A recent article done by The Economist discussed how Edgar Lungu’s borrowing from foreigners drowned Zambia into heavy external debt. To date, Zambia holds a debt of about $12 billion, according to The Economist. Over the last four years, his popularity has conspicuously dwindled. Another article done by Shishuwa Shishuwa, at the African Arguments Organization, discussed how there has recently been a huge anti-Lungu brigade within his own political party. Shishuwa’s article also stated how Lungu’s main opposition, Mr. Haikainde Hichilema, had a massive rally that outnumbered Lungu’s in his own hometown of the Copperbelt region of Zambia. 

Not only is it disheartening to see Zambia’s economy crash, but it’s also disheartening to find out that President Lungu wants to run for a third term. According to the Zambian constitution, a president can only serve two terms. However, Lungu’s currently trying everything in his power to get Parliament to abolish this two-term rule. He recently tried to do this by enacting the constitutional amendment entitled Bill 10. Bill 10 would ultimately grant the president of Zambia the right to be a dictator. The gravest mistake of our generation would’ve been to pass Bill 10 into law. It would’ve poisoned politics and the economy in Zambia for generations to come. The article by Gibson Kapili states that, “Fortunately, for the Zambian people, victory was served a few days ago when less than two-thirds of Parliament agreed to enact Bill 10.” The bill was a huge flop. Joy erupted in the streets of Zambia. Poverty and destruction of the state may have made living in Zambia unbearable, but the bill’s failure gave people hope that perhaps Lungu’s presidential tenure will soon come to an end.

Edgar Lungu’s opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, is adored immensely by the general population. He plans to run again in the 2021 election. It’s evident by Lungu’s past behavior that he’ll try another way to gain a third term. Bribery is extremely common in politically corrupt countries such as Zambia, and it’s very plausible seeing the past rumours of how he grabbed his second term through corrupt bribes. An article in the Washington Post discussed how the 2016 election in Zambia was greatly disputed. Hakainde Hichilema contested the results and claimed the elections were rigged. Many Zambians were extremely disappointed about the 2016 election results. Zambian citizens are no longer as enamored by him, and a majority of Parliament members are against Lungu’s tactics. At this point, only bribery will prolong his stay in office. The question remains: Will the Zambian government sincerely let go of corruption?

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