And Phiri says the only person who was genuine in the fight against corruption was Levy Mwanawasa.
Speaking on Joy FM’s The Platform program yesterday, Phiri advised senior members of the ruling party like home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo and his lands counterpart Jean Kapata to explain their wealth to the Zambian people to quench allegations of corruption.
“I am encouraging my colleagues because when a lie is told, you decide to keep quiet, others will think it is true and I am glad that you asked me what was presumed said by Kambwili to Weekend Voice newspaper, I am glad that you called me and the way I am responding, it is not bragging but I want to clarify because I am not a thief so if they mention you that you stole, or you built a house and you remain quiet, it is like you are confirming but if you know you are innocent, challenge those who are telling lies,” Phiri said.
Phiri, who was reacting to allegations that she built an eight bed roomed mansion within three months, said she could only speak for herself.
“Those allegations [of corruption] started some time back. Have you ever heard me come and defend anybody? No. I have come because today I have been mentioned and I know myself, I cannot speak for others umutwe uwamunobe chalo cimbi (your friend’s mind is another world),” she said.
“For the President, I understand he is not like Mumbi Phiri, Mumbi Phiri has no immunity, I can take you Kunda Kunda to the courts of law, there cannot be qualms about it, for the President, what surrounds the Presidency, it is difficult for him to defend himself. Even if his character is assassinated, he cannot take you as a citizen to court. But as for me, if anyone says something which is not true, I have resolved I will take them to court so that they can substantiate what they are talking about.
I was talking to honorable Kapata just last night and I told her that ‘I would encourage you honorable Kapata, me I know you, when people want to smear dirt on you, take them on and explain yourself because I know you are not a thief’.”
And Phiri said the only person who was genuine about the fight against corruption was Mwanawasa.
“The only person who was genuine over corruption was Levy Mwanawasa because when he saw the rot which was in MMD, he didn’t want to be fired. You know, it is very wrong, even the way I am speaking, and then tomorrow you hear that Mumbi Phiri is fired then I start talking that there is corruption, that is immoral. I need to speak now, if I see anything wrong, if I have integrity I should resign and then talk about corruption otherwise that is why I am encouraging everybody, bamunina, imweh bale lumbula muli (my brother, you who is being mentioned in) corruption, Kampyongo, everybody, please, come and clear yourselves,” Phiri said.
“You know, people like Kampyongo, people don’t know, baleba ati iyo ni kaponya, so muleba ati ifwe twafuma ku kamchanga, panthu twa kulila ku Kamchanga, we cannot be at the helm of this country? Because tuli baku komboni? Kampyongo nga ali mu street aleshitisha because ninchushi, tafwile ukuba mu leadership? What a shame. Kano fye abana ba mu ma yadi? Eh ba fwile ukuba mu leadership? Ba Kambwili ba fumine kumayadi? (they were saying that Kampyongo is a street vendor, so you are saying that us who come from Kamuchanga, us from the compounds cannot be in leadership? Only those from posh areas?) It is very unfortunate. And despising poor people is not right, in that Parliament when I was a parliamentarian, when I looked, there were very few, in fact there was none of a politician or those in the limelight in Parliament, twalifye amafonteen from Kamuchanga, ba Lungwanga ba kulile kumunshi, ba Simbao ba kulile ku munshi, bonse, villagers…don’t despise the poor.”
She said she had built some houses because she was married to a wealthy man who managed to fend for her.
“I am not married to a kawaya waya. I am married to a professional aeronautic engineer. He worked in the foreign service as a diplomat in his own rights, being paid in dollars outside the country. An aeronautic engineer, not kawaya waya engineer, no! He buys my clothes, he pays for his children’s school fees son even the salary that I was getting as a diplomat, you can go and check, I can bring a printout from Indo Zambia Bank, they will show you…I am ready to give you my documentation because I don’t want to be scandalized,” said Phiri.