Since the election of Edgar Lungu in 2016 (been in power since 2015), Zambia is through steady steps moving toward a more authoritarian regime.
The recent election was unusually violent and rigging was reported to be widespread.
Critical journalists are harassed like M’membe. Lungu has personally threatened M’membe allegedly said this: “Alefwayafye ukwakufwila” (he is looking for death).
On April 11, 2017, the leader of the opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested for treason for obstructing the presidential motorcade. The police shortly thereafter raided and tear-gassed Hichilema’s home. Said allegation is punishable by 15 years in prison and the death penalty.
Zambia’s main problem continues to be copper, that is the country’s main resource. The Swiss mining company Glencore is accused of theft of Zambia’s copper, where powerful politicians are bribed to look the other way. Thereby, Glencore and the political elite form a mutual dependency. Glencore needs weak institutions and corrupt politicians in place to continue to steal the resource belonging to the people. The politicians rely on Glencore to enrich themselves. The losers are the civilians.
Furthermore, Barotseland is beginning to make noise.
The Lozi people living in former Barotseland live in the western part of Zambia, and they feel they are not included among the people getting access to the benefits of the wealth from copper.
Today, a rising amount of people want an independent Barotseland, and uprise has broken out in Livingstone located in Loziland.
Since former president Sata died in 2014, Lungu (an Easterner) has played the ethnic card, calling the main opposition party, Unity Party, a “Tonga-party”. Tonga mainly lives in the Western part of Zambia as well like the Lozi.
The warning to declare a state of emergency is part of this threatening authoritarian path of Lungu and his party “Patriotic Front”. Through this, he can silence his opponents, not just the Lozi but the Tonga, through fear and violence.
By using the discontent of the Lozi people, Lungu can hit the Tonga hard, paving the way for a dictatorship.