Zambia’s Government Strips Ex-President Edgar Lungu of Retirement Benefits.
The Zambian government has taken the unprecedented step of revoking retirement benefits and privileges from former President Edgar Lungu after his decision to reenter active politics. Lungu had conceded the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021, officially announcing his retirement. His return to the political arena now sets the stage for a highly anticipated and potentially contentious 2026 presidential race.
The move to withdraw retirement benefits and privileges from the former president was confirmed by government spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa. The decision aligns with Zambian law, which clearly states that former presidents who reenter politics forfeit their retirement benefits. As a retired president, Lungu was entitled to various privileges, including three security officers, a diplomatic passport, three state vehicles, a furnished house, medical insurance, funeral expenses, and immunity from prosecution.
Mweetwa emphasized that Lungu would now be treated “equally under the law,” no different from any other senior citizen of the country.
Edgar Lungu’s return to the political arena is motivated by growing dissatisfaction with the continued economic challenges the nation faces under his successor, Hichilema. Civil society groups have raised concerns about diminishing human rights freedoms in the country.
In his announcement last week, Lungu expressed his commitment to defending democracy and saving his factionalized ex-ruling Patriotic Front party from disintegration, which the government has threatened to de-register due to leadership disputes.
While Lungu claimed that supporters of the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) were targeting him, the government spokesperson dismissed these assertions as baseless, describing them as a “mere false alarm.” He asserted that Lungu’s security was on par with that of any other citizen.
However, Lungu received a warning against engaging in confrontational politics against President Hichilema’s government. Notably, he had been cautioned against public jogging, which the police labeled as “political activism.”
The issue of whether Lungu’s immunity from prosecution will be revoked remains unclear. Zambia’s parliament has previously removed immunity for two former presidents, Frederick Chiluba in 2002 and Rupiah Banda in 2013. Some members of the UPND have been calling for the removal of Lungu’s immunity and his prosecution on allegations of corruption during his tenure, though Lungu has dismissed these claims as politically motivated.