FDD leader Edith Nawakwi says she can’t wait to see how her former deputy national secretary and party spokesperson Antonio Mwanza will switch from condemning the ruling party to praising its leaders.
Mwanza who has been among the revered young politicians and aggressive critics of the Patriotic Front stunned his party and followers when he defected from the opposition.
Explaining how she received Mwanza’s decision to leave the the FDD, Nawakwi said he must have been under pressure to survive without a salary and other benefits which the PF may have offered him.
“I just received a WhatsApp message that he will be attending a conference and that he would have wanted to discuss this personally with me but it would not be possible to discuss later, he was going to join PF. That’s all I got from him and that it was for personal reasons,” Nawakwi recounted.
“You young persons make decisions based on your careers, there are several things you take into account when you are making a move like that as an individual so I can’t delve into that but I do trust that he evaluated his chances of how he progresses in politics and how he craves his future. Maybe he finds that his interests are better served in the Patriotic Front. But how do you change the tune? You people in the press, from his position to say ‘nibakawalala (PF are thieves) to this, how are you going to spin it for him? How can you serve the nation with personal moves? I was on air and I think you heard me on Christian Voice and he was telling me that ‘Lungu achita auction party, achita auction State House’.”
Asked if she was heartbroken, Nawakwi said Mwanza was not the only person in the party and his exit had created space for someone else to take over.
“How can you be heart broken as if it is something which is emotional? Don’t make me laugh. I think all will agree that FDD gave him a platform of being spokesperson and it is from that that he has become well known as a young, well groomed and well mentored politician. I think we should congratulate FDD for giving him that platform and we hope that he will get similar exposure elsewhere because he is a young person. But I personally think that people come and go, there are no personal to holder positions. So someone else will come and fill that position and that’s how you move forward,” she said.
“The question people need to answer is, why do people run to the ruling party instead of consolidating the opposition? That is the question people need to answer. It is practically difficult for a person who has a young family, who has challenges, there are no stipends, jobs or contracts in the opposition, there is nothing like that which exists. But sometimes you need to look at, what are your interests as a parent and young Mwanza is a parent and a husband so there are challenges that come from that. He was vocal because of the position that we gave him, but there are other people, there is the chairperson, there is the national secretary, there are other people in the party. I think you know that some members of our party had tried to move out but they also came back. So when you hear one voice, it is not for lack of other people.”
And Nawakwi wondered how Mwanza would be appointed minister in the PF government.
“So how does he get to be a minister? Is he going to be nominated? You should have followed him on the side to ask how that will be brokered. I think he was working under a very able leader who allowed him and offered him the counsel and mentorship to get to this level. I do hope and trust that he has made a correct move and wish him well in his new endeavour. It is very difficult in African politics to work in the opposition where there is no stipend, where there are no allowances, it is a lot of sacrifice. However, all I want to say is that the party does not belong to one person. The exit of one person opens a door for another person and I may also remind the Zambian people that FDD as a party, from the beginning when we lost in 2001, we saw a lot of prominent members such as Dipak Patel, Chance Kabaye literally abandoning us for ministerial positions in government,” said Nawakwi.
“There are other people who left, some are still serving in this current government such as the Minister of Tourism [Charles Banda], Professor Nkandu Luo, the list is endless. Someone has to provide checks and balances in the opposition and the party will always live beyond individuals.”
Speaking when he defected, Saturday, Mwanza said those who had left the PF had paved way for him to be a minister.
“I have seen some people are leaving PF, and I believe in God, when he starts rocking things, just know that he is making a chance for you. If that woman is not getting divorced, then you cannot get married to that man. If those who are leaving PF don’t go, then I cannot be minister. So let them go, they should give us a chance to work. Sela tubombeko [step aside and pave way for us to work]. Some of us are good youths with papers from school so we need to work. Nanga ni PF yanyina [is it your mother’s PF]?” said Mwanza.