PF deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri says she regrets conducting herself in a manner that embarrassed President Edgar Lungu during a party fundraising event in Chilanga earlier this month.
And PF Secretary General Davies Mwila yesterday announced at a press briefing that the Party Central Committee had resolved to suspend Phiri from her position for 30 days in order to give her time to reflect of her behaviour.
PF officials who attended the fundraising event narrated that Phiri got intoxicated, and made fun of the Head of State when she was tasked to call him to the podium.
“This is in relation to what happened during the fundraising event at Ndozo Lodge in Chilnga, I think that was on 4th March thereabout. When Honourable Mumbi Phiri was asked to call the President to address the members, she started making fun of him. First she asked him to stand so that he can address the people, but then she told him to sit down, saying she was still talking. Then she started talking about things concerning her nomination as member of parliament and that the President nominated her because he likes women,” narrated the sources.
“This caused some huge embarrassment to the President because she was actually belittling him even in the manner she was calling his name. A lot of people who were present were shocked and it was clear that deputy SG was not herself that evening. It was really humiliating to the President. That’s what has led to her suspension.”
Announcing the punishment yesterday, Mwila said Phiri had also been suspended as a member of the Central Committee.
“Following allegations of gross misconduct and impropriety levelled against Hon Mumbi Phiri arising from her conduct at a Party fundraising event in Chilanga District, which event was graced by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia and Party President for the Patriotic Front Mr Edgar Edgar Chagwa Lungu, a report was tabled before Central Committee to effect the necessary sanction. On 5th March 2018, Honourable Mumbi Phiri was requested to exculpate herself of the alleged bad behaviour reported to have caused embarrassment to the party President and the party membership at large and she was further asked to show cause within seven days why disciplinary action should not be taken against her following the allegations,” Mwila explained.
“In her response, Honourable Mumbi Phiri asked for forgiveness as she admitted her wrongs. She maintained the same position during her appearance before the Disciplinary Committee. She was remorseful throughout the disciplinary process and while she deserved stiffer sanctions, Central Committee took into consideration that she was a first time offender and a committed and loyal member of the Party. Honourable Mumbi Phiri has been suspended from Central Committee and from her position as Deputy Secretary General for 30 days effective 24th March 2018.”
He said the Central Committee hoped that Phiri would use the 30 days to reflect and learn.
“This is to remind all of us that Patriotic Front has no sacred cows and shall not tolerate indiscipline from its leaders and members at any given time. Let me send this warning that leaders have a duty to lead by example and must be above board,” said Mwila.
However, Phiri denied having been drunk on the fateful night, but expressed deep regret for her conduct.
She told News Diggers! in an interview that she deserved to be disciplined in order to deter other offenders.
“For me I will use the 30 days to truly reflect and I have no hard feelings. It’s a learning process that as leaders, especially at the top leadership, we should be careful in whatever we do. As a leader, something small would happen, but because you are a leader with a following of young people; and being a woman and a mother, I have a lot of young people who are looking upto me. So for me it’s a reflecting time. I can tell my party that I have no hard feelings because its me who actually encouraged discipline. So when it comes to me, I should take it and reflect really on it. I have to improve on the things that other people are seeing wrong in me. I want to tell my followers that I am very fine, Parliament continues and I will be there to represent them,” Phiri said.
“I will return to the Central Committee after 30 days and continue representing them and continue speaking for the party. Otherwise, I am so grateful to the disciplinary committee because you know there shouldn’t be any sacred cows at any position of any party. If people see that there is something wrong that I have done, I should also be disciplined so that we deter other from doing the same things.”
Asked if it was true that she was drunk when she conducted herself badly, Phiri said she was not intoxicated.
“People who know me, know me enough. I don’t think even you (this reporter) who has known me for a very long time, I don’t think you have ever seen me intoxicated. But sometimes people take advantage. You can do a small little thing and people take advantage of that. As leaders we should learn to be exemplary in our behaviour so that nobody can point at anything. We should be above board because it can be just a little thing but people will take advantage,” she explained.
Asked if she felt the suspension was too harsh for the “little’ incident that she caused, Phiri said it would be unfair for her to argue with the punishment she had been given.
“I wouldn’t say that it was not serious enough for me to say I did not deserve a suspension because I am not the disciplinary committee. The people in the disciplinary committee are wise enough, so if I say it was not grave enough or not grave, i think I will be disregarding my colleagues in the Central Committee. They have their wisdom to arrive at that. I have every trust in them, so I can’t say it was not grave, that wouldn’t be fair,” said Phiri.