By- Police in Zambia have banned the country’s former President Edgar Lungu from jogging.
Lusaka Times reports that authorities have seen Lungu’s public jogs as political activism.
Lungu’s weekly runs with members of the public and his party supporters have gained significant attention. The police have ordered him to seek approval for future jogging events, stating that failure to do so breaches the law and jeopardizes public safety. In a recent statement, Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said:
The Zambia Police Service has noted with concern the unlawful assembly and political activism that was conducted by Patriotic Front cadres on Saturday, September 23, 2023, when the Former President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu was conducting his morning jogging routine.
We would like to warn the Patriotic Front cadres that public gatherings or demonstrations, including political events, should be notified to the police as by law established. Failure to do so amounts to a breach of the law. This is to ensure public safety, traffic management, and to prevent disruptions to the daily lives of citizens.
However, Lungu’s lawyer Makebu Zulu has asserted that he will continue jogging without notifying the police and may take legal action if obstructed. He told BBC News:
Mr Lungu has been jogging since time immemorial and his motivation has never been to contravene the law.
The BBC says the so called restriction on Lungu’s activities follows previous restrictive directives, including being blocked from travelling to South Korea for a conference. Despite announcing his retirement from politics after losing the 2021 election, Lungu has recently been reemerging in the public eye, leading to speculation that he plans to contest the presidency in 2026. Lungu allegedly aims to capitalize on public discontent over rising fuel and food prices in the upcoming elections.
President Hakainde Hichilema’s government has faced criticism with UK based lawyer, Brighton Mutebuka also issuing caution.
Commenting on the development, ZimEye’ Simba Chikanza said
I am not aware of any restrictions on Edgar Lungu, and outsiders constantly get tempted to swallow any political scream as substance.
I’m of the opinion that Brighton Mutebuka and others might be too academic and removed from the reality of what even Human Rights Watch has warned of Edgar Lungu, who I personally engaged during the dark transition period.
HRW’s comments and warnings concerning the power Lungu possesses after leaving power should serve as a guide. Mutebuka doesn’t seem to understand that Edgar Lungu has declared real militant war on Hichilema to the point of saying he won’t finish his term before being removed. That is no small talk and any analyst should be aware that the dynamics at play are not of any political nature but of ongoing sabotage by a former president, who was no president during his tenure but a terrorist leading a militant group that seeks to mutilate the institutions and the economic pillars just so to seize back power. Such people are not politicians and all lawyers should know the type of operator is no ordinary citizen, but the type who should even be slapped with life bans on leading anything.
I also think the Human Rights Watch warnings should be utilized by prosecutors to put Lungu in his rightful place regarding terrorism and such related crime. The deportation of Tendai Biti, which was a coup aided by Mr Lungu in his personal capacity should be processed by Zambian courts.
This was a heinous crime being part and parcle of a pre meditated overthrowal of an elected government even announced on the ZBC news channel in very clear terms that soldiers were being used to change election results.
Lawyers handling the case have already passed opinion that this can be taken up, even as a civil litigation case.
The violation needs to be litigated since it happened in Zambia and the ZED government has not done justice to itself by allowing it to go unpunished. The punishment doesn’t have to be physical, since there are some other considerations, but once the ruling is passed, even as a civil case, it helps to fix this cancer that could tear the nation apart one day.
I challenge my brother Mutebuka to take a peep at this matter and collaborate with his Zambian colleagues as this is the real meat of the matter at stake regarding Lungu.