United Progressive People (UPP) leader Saviour Chishimba says it is true that President Edgar Lungu was not poor before going to State House.
And Chishimba says it will be a mistake to narrow down the fight against corruption on President Lungu because the structures he is building are nothing compared to the money which other people are stealing.
In an interview with News Diggers! Chishimba said he could attest to the fact that President Lungu had assets before assuming the office.
“It is true that comrade Edgar Chagwa Lungu was not poor at the time that he became President of Zambia, that is a fact and then also literally speaking it also stands out that the Zambian laws stops anyone from running for public office if he is bankrupt, so a bankrupt person cannot run for council position, Parliamentary office and you can’t run for the office of Mayor or President and Vice-President, you can’t. So we totally agree to what Honourable Kampamba [Mulenga] said that comrade Edgar Chagwa Lungu was not poor. Comrade Lungu was of course had assets, a farm and I for one can attest to the fact that there is one area where he is a neighbour, way before he became a public officer. It was before I became MP myself by then I was country director for international organizations. So there is one area where he was building and I was also building. So we knew each other way back. So there are basic assets that he had before he became President and I can attest to that,” Chishimba said.
He however said there was need to examine how President Lungu’s net worth rose between a short period of time.
“So when you look at the net pay worthiness of President Lungu now as compared to his net pay worthiness when he became President which is in public record, about two years ago he was around K2 million if I am not mistaken then by the end of last year when we were running for elections that amount rose to K27 million. So these are details that we need to be examining and there is nothing irregular about this because public officers must give an account to the people of Zambia and these are the basic answers that the people of Zambia are looking for either directly or through those people who are speaking on his behalf,” Chishimba said.
And Chishimba says people should not personalize the fight against corruption but focus on building strong governance institutions.
“Sometimes the mistake we make in our nation is that we want to personalise issues. We in the UPP will not take any debate personal because the moment we begin to personalise then we are going to miss the bigger picture. We are going to miss what we should be addressing as a nation. And this is the reason why we have been making a mistake as country because we want to think that the moment you just remove a particular individual and put another person then problems will end, no! What we should be addressing as a nation right now is rebuilding strong institutions of governance that will make it practically impossible to steal from the people of Zambia,” he said.
“Yes again I will have to go back to what I was saying, you are aware that UPP is the first political party to alert the nation about corruption and all these who are coming are just talking about issues that they don’t even understand. You know it and we have been very clear even before elections it was our campaign message to the people of Zambia and after elections we have been very consistent raising awareness and our awareness on corruption goes beyond President Edgar Lungu because the amount of assets that you are talking about, when you compare with the amount of money which has been stolen by directors in government offices and those in the private sector who are working with them, the Chinese and you put this money together, you find that even this focus we want to target on Lungu is a mistake, we are making a mistake and this idea of trying to narrow the fight against corruption to the President or comrade Edgar Lungu is purely being by the group I think that has always championed the politics of simply wanting to settle scores.”
Chishimba said he was against the culture of persecution.
“I remember I was still a Member of Parliament when I stood out clearly to challenge late President Levy Mwanawasa that while we welcome the fight against corruption, we have very serious concerns with the way the fight has been personalised and reduced to settling scores because Mwanawasa and Chiluba were at war and the first victim of Mwanawasa when he became President was FTJ Chiluba. Chiluba was not prosecuted but persecuted and that was all because Chilubi refused to punish Sata when he differed with Mwanawasa so he had that hurt for him and wanted to take his revenge. Rupiah Banda also decided to cover his own corruption when he became President and decided to settle scores against the Post Newspapers and Mathani to destroy Finance Bank. So there has a history of personal vendettas in the fight against corruption in this country,” said Chishimba.
“When President Sata became President we commend him because he did not hesitate to ensure that some of the officials in his own government who were corrupt were dealt with immediately. That approach, though President Sata didn’t last long, should be hailed by all the people of Zambia because he started dealing with his government as well and he didn’t hesitate to fire the corrupt advisors we know them, some of them have been reinstated and that is a question we should be asking, why have the corrupt people that President Sata removed been reinstated? So now we have comrade Lungu as President of Zambia, let us not narrow down the fight against corruption on comrade Lungu, we will be making a strategic mistake if we did that as a country. All those houses that Lungu is building cannot amount to the sum total of the billions of dollars that are leaving the country through Chinese monopoly and other means.”