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Presidential term too short, 10 years better – LunguBy Mukosha Funga on 1 Dec 2017
In this audio, President Edgar Lungu says a Presidential tenure must be increased to 10 years so that a Head of State does not worry about re-election immediately after assuming office.
And President Lungu says he hates travelling but is making numerous international trips because he has no option.
Meanwhile, Speaking during a special interview with Grevazio Zulu when he toured the newly refurbished ZNBC studios yesterday, President Edgar Lungu said criminal elements were stealing from government through the procurement of fertilizer.
His said he was the most formidable candidate in PF to win an election.
“I am the most formidable challenger for the 2021 election. So they would like to eliminate me from the scene, and they are manoeuvring and posturing and hoping that by some struck of light I am ineligible, because I am here. I am interested in standing,” he said.
“Obviously 10 years is the best time that you can have to deliver and I was sharing with President Uhuru [Kenyatta] over this same one to say ‘why don’t they just give us 10 years and we go? One term, 10 years, you go. At that point you will not be worried about re-election, you will focus on growth of the economy and serious issues. But what is happening is that immediately you go in there, people begin challenging you and you begin defending yourself and again a ‘boxing’ match ensues, at the end of the day you don’t do much work. But that’s food for thought coming from me,” he said.
He said if the court ruled him ineligible to stand, he would respect the decision, but hastily added that the Judiciary was subject to criticism if it went astray.
“But for 2021 my brother, if the matter in court says I am ineligible, I will not be eligible. If the court says I am eligible, I will be eligible and I don’t know why this is becoming a very difficult issue, for me I believe in rule of law, I believe that the law is made by parliament, I believe that the law is interpreted by the courts of law and the law is enforced by us as Executive. We are also entitled to checks and balances, we check over each other and say ‘excuse me, what’s going on?’ and I think that is how our democracy. There is no harm in talking about the Judiciary or the Legislature. There is no harm in talking about the executive. Why should it be the Executive to be always lambasted and criticised and accused of wrong doing?” President Lungu asked.
President Lungu said the courts must rule quickly on his eligibility so that he if he is disqualified, the party can find a substitute.
“For you to say I am raising controversy when I say I will stand in 2021.., I want to stand because my friends want me to stand so that we continue with the program but if the law says ‘you can’t stand bwana’, the earlier they say so, the better so that we find a substitute. That’s how these things go,” he said.
Take a listen:
And President Lungu said mining companies only succeed at arm twisting government in an election year.
“Arm-twisting [by mining companies] is there. For example, I have been very bold and I have told the mining companies that I will not be intimidated. One of the things they do, and they do it regularly is to tell you ‘so many jobs will be lost, they wont vote for you if you don’t go in this direction’ but that can only work when we have an election coming,” President Lungu said.
“But now, if we mean well for the very worker, the nation and the republic, we are willing to tell the mining owners that ‘you can withdraw your investment, we will look for other investors’ because they are very good at that game of arm twisting.
Meanwhile, President Lungu said some people in the agricultural sector wanted to create a fertiliser crisis so that they could benefit from it.
“Right now I am coming from the office and I was learning that there was more urea on the market than D Compound for example and I said ‘but what farmer is this who brings in so much urea when what you need first is seed, then you need D Compound, then Urea. So I have called for a meeting to say ‘what is going on with you guys?” I say ‘hey let’s go, we want to have fertilizer at the right time and somebody goes and buys urea when you are supposed to buy D-compound. So you see, when people talk about corruption, this is the corruption which they talk about. You stampede me and government into getting expensive commodities, fertilizer at short notice because we will need to bring in some emergency measures to bring in the right fertilizer.”
He said there were some corrupt elements in handling the procurement of fertilizer.
“There are people who have made their money from emergencies and crisis situations but I will not allow that. I will ask Mr [Hibeene] Mwiinga, special assistant economics, I’ve asked Mr [Andrew] Chella to look into this matter and make sure we do it right. I will not accept failure which is induced by corrupt elements who want to steal money from government, that I will not accept,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu also said he knew he travelled a lot but claimed he hated it.
“I travel too much yes, but I don’t like travelling. It’s not a contradiction, but I have to travel on behalf of the Zambian people. I was in Kenya, and in Kenya, I was told that Prime Minister Netanyahu Benjamin of Israel wants to have a bilateral with us and if I delegated, or if I allowed the ambassador to deal with that matter, obviously it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. In Israel, we have a partner and the partner wants to work with us. I was there early this year and when we met for your information, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Zambia should host the Africa-Israel summit which was initially intended for Togo in Ethiopia but for some reason never took off. And he says let’s do this in 2018 and it only takes the Prime Minister and Head of State to negotiate that kind of deal,” he said.
On corruption, President Lungu said it was illogical for people to question the source of his wealth when he was “one of the good lawyers” before becoming Head of State.
“State House has been accused of being very corrupt. ‘How can a journalist build a house?’ to build a house are you corrupt? Somebody says no, ‘Lungu was a pauper, yes I was a pauper but I had a house, a roof, and I had small businesses running, I was constructing. Now somebody today says, he should account for his property, I have not failed to account for my property because people have been seeing me grow, and by the way I was a lawyer and I don’t know whether there are so many poor lawyers, and I wasn’t ‘in the middle of the road’ kind of lawyer, I was one of the good ones.
When Zulu asked if he was a top notch lawyer, President Lungu laughed and responded; “I don’t think I was the top notch but you cannot say ‘where has he gotten the money from?’ you look at my jacket and say, where has he got the money from? C’mon! Let’s be real! You say ‘that guy was a journalist, now he is driving’. How many journalists drive?”
The President said some people did not understand terminologies in the Auditor General’s report, and therefore understood “misapplication” of funds as theft.
About Mukosha Funga
Mukosha Funga is a Zambian journalist interested in good governance and anti corruption reporting.
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