Former Zambian President, Edgar Lungu, has received a warning from the police regarding his public jogging sessions, which they have labeled as “political activism.” Mr. Lungu’s weekly jogs, in which he runs alongside ordinary citizens and supporters of his Patriotic Front (PF) party, have been attracting significant attention.
In response to this, the police have instructed Mr. Lungu to seek their approval for any future jogging events. They argue that the failure of the PF to inform them of these “public gatherings or demonstrations” constitutes a breach of the law, with the primary goal being to ensure public safety. Furthermore, the police emphasized that any procession involving a former head of state should include appropriate security measures and must not involve political activism.
Mr. Lungu’s lawyer, Makebu Zulu, expressed his client’s intent to continue jogging without notifying the police and threatened legal action against the government if any attempts were made to prevent the 66-year-old former president from exercising on Saturdays. According to Mr. Zulu, Mr. Lungu’s longstanding jogging routine has never had the intention of violating the law.
This development is the latest in a series of apparent restrictions on the former president’s activities since his tenure from 2015 to 2021. Some commentators have suggested that the government of President Hakainde Hichilema is using tactics similar to those it criticized while in opposition.
Previously, Mr. Lungu took the government to court after he alleged that he was barred from traveling to South Korea for a conference; however, he later withdrew the case. Additionally, the PF claimed that Mr. Lungu was prevented from traveling for a medical trip despite seeking permission from the cabinet office.
The BBC has reached out to Home Affairs Minister Jacob Mwiimbu for comment but has not yet received a response.
Despite initially stating his retirement from politics after losing the 2021 election, Mr. Lungu has recently been increasing his public presence. He is widely believed to be preparing for a presidential bid in three years, hoping to capitalize on public discontent over rising fuel and food prices. President Hichilema won the 2021 election with a substantial majority, with promises of addressing the country’s economic challenges, having previously run for office unsuccessfully five times.