Just pray that I drop dead because if you try to harm me physically you will be harmed before you harm me,” President Edgar Lungu told Livingstone residents on Arrival at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport this morning.
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There has been an undeclared cold war between Southern Province chief Mukuni and President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front, particularly Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, since police raided UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s house and arrested him for treason, three months ago.
Kamyongo has recently issued warnings that police would soon be arresting a named chief believed to be funding political tension in the country, and although the Minister did not specifically mention Mukuni’s name the traditional leader issued a counter statement saying he was not moved by any threats by Kampyongo, adding that he was ready to go to jail.
Chief Mukuni said he was not an advocate of violence or anarchy, and boasted that when he was being initiated for the throne as a traditional leader, he spent seven nights sleeping at the graveyard, an experience which he found more challenging than being imprisoned.
The ruling PF accuses Mukuni of being less of a chief and more of a business partner of Hichilema.
When President Lungu arrived in Livingstone, which is Mukuni’s chiefdom to attend an international conferences on geology at Chrismar Hotel, he said those who want to harm him will be harmed first.
“I am happy that you found time to come and see me, it shows your love for me. But even those who don’t love me, I have a duty to look after them. If you see the police coming in large numbers, they are here to protect law and order. This is because we have reports that some people want to try and disrupt and embarrass the President during the course of this visit. But some people have told their members that don’t go and welcome him. I think that’s the best you can do, just say ‘don’t go and welcome Lungu’. But to start throwing stones, I think it’s uncalled for,” President Lungu said.
“You need to know that I am very thick skinned; insults will not move me, bad language will not move me; bit if you try to harm me physically, you will be harmed before you harm me. So just sit in your cabin and pray that I drop dead. Insult me if you want but don’t try to harm me because you will be harmed first. I am not here by choice but by the choice of the people of Zambia under the laws enshrined in the Constitution. I am your servant, so because of that, these people will protect me.”
He said he will ignore those who don’t recognise his presidency including traditional leaders who have made negative statements against him.
“Just accept that I am in charge, if you don’t I will just ignore you…Just accept it because if you refuse, people have accepted anyway. I am here to deliver on behalf of the Zambian people throughout the Republic. So if I come here and you boycott and say we will not welcome him, it’s up to you. I hope the area member of parliament, although he is on suspension, for Livingstone and Dundumwezi, I hope you can find time to interact with me so that we work together. If your mother marries another woman, just admit that he is your father, if you say this is not my father, who is going to penga 9suffer)?” asked President Lungu.
“I am not here for politics, I am here to see development and I will be here up to tomorrow to interact with the party and to find time to interact with government officials both at district and provincial level. That’s my job until 2021. Including those traditional leaders who have made pronouncement about my status and all those things, please I am asking that lets put politics behind and lets work together. The people who are suffering are the ordinary men and women of this country because of intransigency.”
President Lungu is still in Southern Province and is expected to visit chief Chikanta in Dundumwezi and will also attend the 19th African Power Utilities (APUA) congress at Avani Hotel tomorrow.