In the past years, Zambia had become a bastion of democracy, not only in Southern Africa but in the rest of Africa as well. However some recent developments in the country have begun showing the totalitarian face of president Edgar Lungu.
Many Zambians are now stuck in a perpetual fear of a gradual relapse into a dictatorship state, at the orchestration of the current president Edgar Lungu. The pride of free expression is waning, slowly replaced by chronic fear seeping into the generality of the citizens. Democracy is being eroded, and most Zambians are dissatisfied with the "wrong direction" their country is going.
An open political environment, which is a hallmark of democracy, is being clamped down, and to defend the democracy of their country is an uphill task for Zambians.
Here are some of the findings from Afrobarometer, an independent research network that conducts attitude surveys across the continent. Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of citizens who say they feel "completely" or "somewhat" free to say what they think has declined sharply, from 81% to 62%. On top of this, 72% of Zambians now say that they must "always" or "often" be "careful of what they say about politics," a proportion that has risen by 10 percentage points over the past five years.
Since 1999, the proportion of citizens who say they enjoy "somewhat" or "much" more freedom of speech "compared to a few years ago" has dropped from 77% to 41%.
There is an inherent sense of utter distrust in the country. Political will being stripped from people. Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema currently is in prison facing flimsy and trumped up charges of treason when his motorcade did not comply in giving way to that of Lungu. Many perceive this as a clear attempt to subdue the opposition, to cow them into submission and subservience.
Lungu seems to be relentless in his quest for authoritarian rule, earlier this month he instituted a state of emergency and is seeking more powers if parliament approves that.
Many Zambians are of the hope that Edgar Lungu's motives may not find their way into being fully effected, and are ready to defend their democracy.