Edgar Lungu has been known for many things but humility for a man of influence in a country where people often get over-consumed by their own self-importance sets him several paces apart from other politicians or national leaders. Observers have sometimes described his humility as his most admirable quality and, to many people - especially the common folk who make up the largest part of Zambia’s population - his most endearing attribute.
If there was one word to describe Edgar Lungu as a late-blooming politician facing a vicious power struggle to replace Zambia’s fifth President Michael Sata, tenacious would be that word. He needed bags of it, first, to survive the bitterly fought internal war to win the Patriotic Front’s nomination to stand as its candidate in the 2015 Presidential election occasioned by Sata’s death and, later, to fend off arch-rival Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition UPND in another closely contested Presidential poll.
Politicians make their names for any number of reasons or actions. Some for their ruthlessness, others for their brashness, cunning or indeed kindness. Edgar Lungu seems to have crafted a name for himself simply by cleverly playing the role of the political tyro who knew little about the game...the ‘green horn’ the opposition made the fatal mistake of underrating.
It is hard to imagine any other Zambian politician would so willingly have yielded to another the instruments of power left with them in accordance with the law by a sitting president, as Michael Sata did when he left Edgar Lungu to serve in his place the night he left for the UK to seek medical help in 2014. When Sata died in hospital, there were many 'expert' voices advising Lungu to keep hold onto the instruments of power, rather than decline to the incumbent Vice-President Guy Scott. Lungu happily handed over the instruments to a man who would then go on to do almost all in his powers to hinder his ambition to win the subsequent Presidential election. This is because he sought peace.
“I want to be remembered as an ordinary person who became President, a person who brought ordinary and human characteristics to the office of the Presidency…”
Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Hot FM radio interview October 2015.
By Anthony Mukwita.