Chief government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga says it should not surprise people when they hear that President Edgar Lungu has a number or properties because the Head of State was not poor before going to State House.
And Mulenga says government will not allow President Lungu to travel with two people on his entourage in the name of austerity measures, adding that it is not a crime for the Head of State to appear in public with contractors and businessmen as long as they are not traveling on government expense.
Meanwhile, the Information Ministers says government is not aware that President Lungu’s former ministerial house is still being used by his family and children.
In a telephone interview with News Diggers, Mulenga who is in South Africa on government duty said it was not true that President Lungu was building shopping malls in Petauke, Chawama and Lilayi, as alleged by Kambwili, but added that it was not illegal for the Head of State to own property.
“That is not true, like we have clearly said, Honourable Kambwili should have questioned all these things when he was in government. Can he specify that this mall and this mall are being built by President Lungu, because we are not aware of that. And also what we must realise is that the President had a life before he became President. He is a lawyer. So questioning his capabilities because he is now the President is neither here nor there. What we must realise is that before the presidency, President Lungu is a very well educated man, he was a lawyer, so it is not like President Lungu just came in a poor man, no! We know lawyers are one of the most handsomely paid professionals in Zambia,” Mulenga explained.
“This is not to say that President Lungu is building [shopping] malls through tax-payers money, it is not true. But questioning the aspect of whether President Lungu can own property, yes he is a Zambian. He is a Zambian entitled under the Constitution to own property, but it does not mean that when you own property every property you own is coming from taxpayers money, it’s not true. President Lungu has clearly stated even before, that he was in business. It is not true that President Lungu came into State House a poor man, he is a lawyer by professional. He had a life even before that.
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She said if Kambwili meant well for Zambia, he would have reported President Lungu’s corruption while he was in office “because we want men an women who can detect corruption while they are still in government”.
Asked if she would tell the public if she discovered that President Lungu was involved in corruption, Mulenga said she would do so and go further to resign.
“That is what noble people, credible people do. They don’t wait to be fired to say President Lungu is corrupt. If I see that the decisions we are making in Cabinet are not going well with the Zambia people, I would resign on moral ground, I will not wait until I am fired,” she said.
Explaining why President Lungu spend four days in Swaziland, Mulenga said the Head of State was invited for two events.
“The President was also invited for the National Reed Dance. There were two events taking place at once. And that invitation was a gesture from his counterpart. The Trade Fair has not even finished, it finishes next week Monday,” she said.
In the interview which lasted close to an hour, Mulenga also told News Diggers! that it was disrespectful for government to allow the President to travel with few people.
“There is the presidential affair minister that accompanied him, there is a political advisor, and there is a press aide that accompanied him. So who did Honourable Kambwili want to accompany the President? Those are part of the presidential delegation and they have been from time immemorial. Every time a President travels, he travels with a delegation. There is no way… look, this is the presidency for goodness’ sake. The Presidency is a big institution and we are not going to demean and undermine the institution because Honourable Kambwili says one or two people should accompany the President. Ubufuma buchindika umwine (One has to respect himself in order to be respected). So as much as there are austerity measures, this is an institution and there is no way the President will travel alone or with two people,” Mulenga said.
She also defended the pictures which were shared on social media of President Lungu posing with businessmen.
“Honourable Kambwili has already said that Mr Valden Findlay is a businessman, do you think, in his own capacity Mr Findlay can fail to pay for his accommodation? If he has that evidence that Mr Findlay used taxpayers money to get himself there, he might as well raise a query. We know that Mr Findlay owns Chrismar Hotel, he has been in business for a long time. You think he can fail to pay for his accommodation?” she wondered.
“And we also know that under the laws of Zambia, it is illegal for anyone to deal in drugs, so since Honourable Kambwili seems to have so much information, why hasn’t he reported them to the law enforcers? People have accused Honourable Kambwili of so many things, but no one is guilty until proven innocent. He knows the speculations of social media, how people are accused innocently. But in any case, what is wrong with Mr Findlay being found with the President in Swaziland? What crime has he done? How many people appear with the President in public? What crime would that be if Mr Findlay appeared in public with the President? That was a public event, even me if I had the money, I would have gone, even Honourable Kambwili if he had the money, he should have travelled to Swaziland, no body was going to question him. A public event is not restricted to an individual.”
Meanwhile, Mulenga said government was not aware that President Lungu’s former ministerial House was still being occupied by his family.
“We are not aware of that. This is one man who says the President has so many houses, then the other moment he says he has no house, he is using the ministerial house for his family. We are not going to continue answering Kambwili because he just wants to distract government from performing,” said Mulenga.
“The way he wants President Lungu convicted, if Honourable Kambwili had any evidence of all those allegations, he would have submitted all that information to the law enforcers already. He knows where to take evidence. The judiciary is very independent and the President won’t interfere. A man that switches his tongue is a very dangerous man. If President Lungu brought him back in government, Honourable Kambwili can switch and say, ‘I was moved by evil spirits from the other side that’s why I said those things’.”