SIR, you can’t punish Kambwili for participating in partisan politics, Zambia is not your household for you to determine who does business with government, Jonas Shakafuswa has told President Edgar Lungu.
And human rights activist Laura Miti says President Lungu’s attack on opposition National Democratic Congress leader Chishimba Kambwili was terribly unpresidential.
During the State House media reception on Friday, President Lungu, in response to a question by ZNBC reporter Mark Ziligone on his ‘reconciliation’ with the NDC leader recently, said he had gone to Church to remember late Michael Sata
He said he did not know that Kambwili was in the crowd and the priest called him and they shook hands.
“I was lamenting at that point. I was saying what have I done to be called for reconciliation because I have never differed with this gentleman. In short, I have no issues with Chishimba Kambwili, save that he has offended some people, including members of my family, by calling me a thief, a corrupt person and a drug dealer,” President Lungu explained. “To cut the long short, after the meeting the priest saw it fit to call us in his office and there I told him (Kambwili) what I have said. I said ‘you can’t reconcile with me, even if the Church [feels] that to be the case or the nation wants that to be the case, because I have no issues with you and it’s you who has issues with me. So, if you say I’m a thief, you should lay the evidence that I’m a thief, I’m a corrupt person, I’m a drug dealer; if I was a private person, I would have sued you’. Those were my words and then I promised that I’ll not talk about this matter because his response to my position was that he is suffering. His family and businesses have suffered and I told him, I said ‘your family and businesses are suffering because of your mouth’. I explained further by saying that ‘your mouth is so negative that people who want to work with you fear that they will be perceived to be supporting your cause and so, some of them have been withdrawing business association and interest from you’. It’s not to do with me because I know what it means to suffer blackout or sanctions in that manner. So, I don’t know whether you can say that was reconciliation or not. I have spoken the way things happened! After that, we left.”
President Lungu said whether there was reconciliation or not, he does not have to reconcile with everybody.
“But you make peace with yourself, first; find out whether what you are saying is truthful or not. If not, retract. I went further and I said ‘look, GBM (Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba) reconciled truthfully’. He went public and said he is sorry about it and so on. The Mayor of Lusaka (Miles Sampa), we reconciled because he went public and said ‘look, I want to work with you, I’m sorry’. We did this not in the bedroom of my house or the privacy of State House. But he (Sampa) went public because the public is affected by these things,” he said. “So, that’s where we are.”
But Shakafuswa, a former finance deputy minister and Katuba member of Parliament, said Kambwili was a Zambian, who was entitled to do business like any other citizen.
He said what came out of the President was a cheap statement, which he needed to retract, married with an apology to Kambwili and the nation.
“Kambwili’s mouth is the reason his business has gone down…Your Excellency, the President, Edgar Changwa Lungu. Really this came from your mouth? No sir, you can’t punish Kambwili for participating in partisan politics. Zambia is not your household for you to determine who does business with the government or not. This government belongs to the people of Zambia of which Kambwili is a shareholder,” Shakafuswa wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.
Shakafuswa reminded President Lungu that the country was a multiparty democracy and he should therefore not used the Presidency to fight his political opponents.
“Sir, that was a very cheap statement which you need to retract and apologise to Kambwili and the nation. You can’t use the presidency to fight your political competitors. We are in a multiparty era for heavens sake. You won’t take this fact away from Zambians. What kind of legacy do you want to leave for yourself? You will be miserable after leaving that seat. And you will leave that seat one day,” admonished Shakafuswa.
And analysing the State House media reception and address, Miti said President Lungu’s remarks about Kambwili were very personal and resentful.
She, however, commended the Presidency for the presser stating that a President must speak to citizens through the press.
“My appraisal of the presidential [address] is that the fact of it was commendable. A President must speak to citizens through the press. EL’s refusal to do what he did today more often has hurt him tremendously,” Miti said.
Miti added that while the fact of the press address was a win, she found that “the content was by turns same old, lacking the articulation of issues required of a President or downright shocking.”
“In particular, the President’s answers on these questions were disturbing, on Bill10, the President seems to genuinely believes resistance to [the] atrocious Bill is a PF versus UPND battle. The arrogance on this matter that frightens so many citizens is unrelenting and stunning,” Miti said.
Further, Miti wondered why the Head of State was justifying why ministers were disobeying a court order to pay back the money.
“Ministers salary repayment. What a dog’s dinner he made of explaining why ministers are disobeying a court order…. Citizen right to assembly, Ati there should be times when people do not campaign. Our right to gather as citizens is campaigning,” Miti wondered.
“Lower Zambezi…clearly we still have a battle on our hands.”
Miti further said she did not know whether to laugh or cry at the President’s attempt to suggest that cadres just took over markets and bus stops without the party hierarchy knowing and facilitating it.
She further said the Presidents’ response on load shedding was very unconvincing.
“The economy and accountability; this one, EL, is fundamentally weak on, we all know that. So he reads what is written for him even if it is all fluff. And it is the economy we need him to turn around.”
Miti said it was shocking that the President’s address fell short of enunciation of issues worth tackling.
“Overall, we’ll give him 5/10 with 4 marks being because he actually held a press briefing and 1 on staying with the cadres-must-leave-markets difficult decision to make,” said Miti.