Many African countries are infamous for appalling levels of division, and bitter, acrimonious party hostilities. This have a negative toll on the overall governance of a nation, and as a result it is the ordinary citizen who has to bear the brunt of a government that has misplaced priorities.
Zambia is a country whose strong democratic tenets have been gradually getting undermined and eroded. Once a towering beacon, Zambia is losing its beloved pride on having some of the strongest democracies in Africa. And, this is due to Edgar Lungu's rule.
About five days ago, Harry Kalaba, who was the Foreign Affairs minister, tendered his resignation from his ministerial post over what he claimed as 'swelling' levels of corruption. This, genuine as it may be (or as anyone may think it is), is a reflection of the underlying menace of deep party divisions over who can take over from Edgar Lungu as head of the Patriotic Front (PF), which is the ruling party in Zambia.
"We cannot proceed to manage national affairs with cold indifference when the levels of corruption are swelling and being perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution," Kalaba wrote. It would appear that the poor Zambians have ceased to be the reason we are holding power, " read part of the statement outlining his resignation.
Edgar Lungu's tenure has evoked some serious doubts and has sown seeds of discord in the party; it has been quite controversial. His government has been criticized for rampant corruption and gross mismanagement of the state coffers. Recent allegations of corruption have focused on the state's procurement of 42 fire trucks for $1 million (830,000 euros) each, a $1.2-billion road project and the purchase of 50 ambulances for $228 million.
Another point of contention is over his term, which is raising serious divisions in the party, and which many critics claim pushed Kalaba to resign. The Zambian constitution stipulates two terms for a president. Lungu wants a third term, arguing that his very first does not count since he took over when Michael Sata died in 2014. He was re-elected in 2016.
Harry Kalaba is thus seen as a potential candidate for the PF in the 2021 presidential elections. These ambitions could easily be thwarted if Lungu wins his court battle seeking a third term. Critics claim Kalaba's resignation was intended to pile pressure on Edgar Lungu, who the people say is seeking an 'unconstitutional' third term.
The decision to resign by Kalaba exposes the massive levels of corruption in Lungu's government, as well as the party divisions that are beginning to reign supreme. As long as Lungu will feel that his position is being put under threat, he will resort to unorthodox means to keep his grip on power, which could further undermine the democracy of Zambia as has been witnessed before.