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Diplomats pushing me to release HH are wasting time – LunguBy Mukosha Funga on 15 Apr 2017
President Edgar Lungu says diplomats did not leave their countries to come and interfere in Zambia’s internal affairs, and therefore they are wasting time persuading him to intervene in the treason charge against Hakainde Hichilema.
And President Lungu says he will consider pardoning convict Chanda Chimba instead of HH whom he said should face the law and prove himself innocent.
The Unites States Government, the European Union and the local OASIS forum have called for restrain in resolving political difference following the arrest and detention of the opposition UPND leader, while other pressure groups are demanding for his unconditional release.
But President Lungu told the diplomats, through a public address in Mbala today, that they should stay away from the country’s governance issues because Zambia was a sovereign state.
“Let me warn those who are accredited to Zambia as diplomats, those who run civil society organisations, who believe that I can interfere with the process, that they are wasting their time,” President Lungu said.
“I want the diplomats to hear me loud and clear that they will not interfere with our sovereign matters here in Zambia. They came to represent their countries not to interfere in our governance, please!”
He said the church should not push him to intervene in the matter, but should instead pray for prisoners.
“I am also warning those others, including those church men and women who think that they can interfere in the process, this time we will not allow anyone to interfere. I am telling the church to pray for all of us including those who are in jail,” the Head of State said.
He added that the ruling PF had no business to discuss with the UPND because the elections were over and he won.
“I am being told that I should talk to them, talk to them about what? When you play a football match and Zambia wins 6 Mali 1, the game is over. There are no issues between PF and UPND to discuss, what issues are there? If there are issues to talk about, it is how we can work with MMD who were our partners in the last election on how we can work together going forward, those are the issues we want to talk about,” the President said.
“PF has got no business to discuss with UPND, what business to discuss? So I want to make this very clear and I want to put this matter to rest because I am tired; nalema ku kamba nkani imozi na imozi (I am tired of talking about the same story).
He said he would use his prerogative to release Chimba who was found guilty of producing defamatory material in the “Stand Up for Zambia TV series” which the MMD propagandist used to decampaign PF in 2011.
President Lungu said Chimba, who was also found guilty of disposing of property suspected to be proceeds of crime, deserved his mercy and not HH because the opposition leader was claiming to be innocent.
“I want to use the power you gave me; the prerogative of the President, in the right way. Maybe I can release Chanda Chimba because he was convicted. The prerogative of the President should only be applied to convicts and when I get back to Lusaka, I will revisit the case of Chanda Chimba and see whether I can pardon him because he is a convict, the rest of the people are just suspects,” President Lungu said.
“So when I get to Lusaka, I will consult, I think I should pardon Chanda Chimba because he was found guilty. The other people have not been found guilty so let the court work. You don’t forgive the innocent; only those who have been found guilty can be forgiven.”
He said the police acted professionally on arresting HH and surrendering him to the director of public prosecutions so that he could answer to the four charges leveled against him.
“Whoever has been arrested by police will have his day in court and the court will prove whether he is guilty or not. What you need to know is that the police determine which case to take to court and which case to set free. In this particular case, the police have found what they think is the case and they have sent it to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will determine whether that matter should appear in court or not, not me,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State claimed that a group of UPND MPs was scheming to cause havoc following the arrest of HH.
“So publicly, I am warning those MPs who met in Lusaka yesterday to plot anarchy, we will pick them up and arrest them, no one will be spared. I am saying this because they think what honourable Kampyongo said was not enough, I am adding weight to what Honourable Kampyongo said; no one is above the law. If you break the law, if you are UPND, we will arrest you, if you are PF we will arrest you but this time around, I am warning those UPND criminals who are plotting to bring anarchy that they will be arrested,” said President Lungu.
He later promised the local residents that he would soon deliver development to their area.
“This man, your MP has told me that what you need is roads, and that I promise you that we are going to do. We are going to work on the Kasesha and the Kalambo road…I promised you development, and I will bring you development here. If I can look after those people who didn’t vote for me, what more you who voted for me?” wondered President Lungu.
Later, President Lungu met civil servants as well as party officials and observed that the friction between government workers and the PF officials was slowing down development.
“I have found that whenever we are in Mbala, we must always meet civil servants and party officials at the same time. This has been prompted by unnecessary friction among the two which has had the effects of slowing and in some instances stopping progress in our districts. It is not just here, it is everywhere. So I thought that it is important that we should meet and just be guided as to who we are,” President Lungu said.
“Under my watch I will make sure that unity becomes stronger because I believe in unity. There are those civil servants who want government to fail. There are those who don’t care whether government achieves or not because they don’t know, they think that when government fails, it is Edgar Lungu who has failed; it is all of us. And by the time some of you realise, you are looking for another leader in 2021. Are you a patriot? Because if you are, you will be interested in the services that will bring progress in the areas that you are serving. Then there are those who are part of political party leadership who don’t think they need civil servants, who don’t realise that without civil servants, the party will not achieve anything. So I have realised that to avoid that unnecessary friction, we need to collaborate and coordinate. And we can only do that if we know our roles and appreciate each other.”
And President Lungu boasted that he is the one who promotes and decided to increase any civil servants salary, and further warned that he would retire insubordinate government officers.
“If you are a civil servant, Edgar Lungu is the President, whether you voted for him or not. I am the one who promotes, if I refuse then there is no promotion, I am the one who transfers, if I refuse, there is no transfer…I am the one who can decide to increase your salary and say let us build houses for civil servants. I am the one who can say let’s find better offices for civil servants; I am number one civil servant. Cabinet reports to me and if the civil service is failing to work, it is Edgar Lungu who will fail. So I will not sit and watch civil servants fail to work. I will ask you to retire, I will write to you whether you will say it is politics, they are victimising us for supporting opposition, it is not that. I expect you to work and in the same vain, of you find a politician who isn’t working, let me know. But before you come to me, sit down with them. You tell the DC how the system works. Don’t be arrogant, share knowledge,” President Lungu said.
He warned PF officials not to get drunk with power, saying people would chase them from government like they did to UNIP.
“And let me also say this to my party colleagues, approach the civil servants and ask them how things work so that they explain to you. That way if it’s to do with licenses, you will apply if eligible. If it is contracts, people don’t know how to apply for small contracts to do little jobs because you haven’t read how to apply. Money for the youth, the women, sometimes it comes here and just goes back because you have not asked for guidance from civil servants,” said President Lungu.
“You have a duty to work together. If you make a mistake, then I also make a mistake. So let’s find a common ground and work together in order to deliver. And don’t get drunk with power. UNIP was chased from power because they let power get to their heads. And even for civil servants it’s the same; but you are not difficult, I am the one who does the firing.”
About Mukosha Funga
Mukosha Funga is a Zambian journalist interested in good governance and anti corruption reporting.
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