In this audio, PF Secretary General Davies Mwila says all Cabinet Ministers, provincial ministers, mayors, and council chairpersons are below him, therefore, he can summon them to exculpate themselves at any time if they make wrong decisions.
And Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya told News Diggers! yesterday that Mwila is right that ministers are answerable to him because they are only in government to implement the manifesto of the party which the Secretary General leads.
On Monday, Mwila summoned acting Lusaka Mayor Chilando Chitangala to his office following the demolition of Luburma market in Lusaka’s Kamwala area. This raised eyebrows from the members of the public, forcing Hot FM to make it a topic of discussion on their Red Hot Breakfast show, Tuesday.
Speaking when he called in during the show, Mwila boasted that only the President and the Vice-President could overrule him because he was third in command.
“Yes, all of them except the Vice-President and the President. The Secretary General is the most powerful man in the party. People must understand that all the ministers, Cabinet Ministers, provincial ministers, the mayors, council chairmen, they are below me. So whatever they are doing they should understand that we are there, we are monitoring what they are doing. If they make a mistake, I will summon a Cabinet Minister and he must explain why he is doing the wrong thing,” Mwila said.
Asked if the decision to summon the Mayor of Lusaka amounted to inferring with the operations of the council, Mwila said he had the right to take disciplinary action against the mayor if he made wrong decisions, which could affect the party.
“No, it’s not interference, actually that can lead to disciplinary action. We can take disciplinary action against the mayor if he makes wrong decisions which will affect the party. I summoned the mayor who was adopted by the party, he stood or she stood on [the] party ticket. So, whether the minister is there or the minister is not there, I have the mandate to summon anyone. Actually, the traders have benefited. If we had not intervened, they were not going to be compensated. So, it will be the party that is going to get the benefit at the end of the day, and the ordinary Zambians. We are there to protect the poor people,” Mwila said.
“And moreover I told them, there is also one issue that is going on, where someone is just selling mangoes, they find him at Crossroads, they grab everything. They have to stop. We have removed the people from the streets and we have to manage the people; we will have to find the alternative place where they are supposed to be trading. So, they should not continue harassing poor people.”
And Mwila said only the President and the Vice-President had the authority to overrule his decisions.
“I know Mutale (programme host) other people will say that we are contradicting each other, that is why even the issue of dialogue, they concentrated on what Honourable [Jean] Kapata said. I am the spokesperson of the party. What I say overrides what someone has said. It’s only the President and the Vice-President who can overrule me. So, if I give a statement that us we are ready to dialogue, no one…if someone says something, that is in his personal capacity, not as a party,” said Mwila.
Take a listen:
And when contacted to explain if it was government’s position that all Cabinet ministers were answerable to Mwila, Siliya responded in the affirmative, saying there was nothing strange about ministers explaining their decisions to the party chief executive.
“If you recall, at every function, the secretary general is the recognised together with the Central Committee. A government is not formed from without, it is formed after a party has been elected; and the hierarchy of the PF is that there is the President, the Vice-President and then the secretary general who is recognised ahead and together with the central committee. The Central committee is a shadow Cabinet,” Siliya said.
“I am in government myself as Minister of Information and Broadcasting and I am also the chairperson of the information committee in the party. So coming straight from the shadow Cabinet of the Central Committee into government, as minister. It is on that basis that the secretary general can call upon me as a central committee member, but also now that the party is in government, as a Cabinet minister. I am only a Cabinet minister to implement the PF agenda.”
She insisted that there was nothing strange about Mwila’s authority.
“So it is not strange for the PF secretary general to call on the Minister of Agriculture like Given Lubinda when he was minister of agriculture and he is the chairperson for agriculture, and say ‘why are you doing this in government?’ So it is not strange for the secretary general to ask ministers to explain themselves if he feels government is departing from what the party promised the people,” she said.
Asked how a minister who is sworn to secrecy would explain Cabinet decisions to Mwila who was not under any oath, Siliya said it was not everything that ministers discussed in Cabinet that would be divulged to the Secretary General.
“There are certain things that are discussed in Cabinet that the oath of secrecy bears on, but the general principles to do with the citizens, to say ‘this is what we promised the people, why aren’t we doing it?’ I mean government gives news to the people everyday, there are things that a secret and then there is just public news. For example the issue to do with the market, is in public. So there is nothing wrong with the secretary general to ask the minister of local government and say ‘minister, why are we doing this’,” Siliya insisted.
Asked how ministers would handle instructions from Mwila which contradicted Cabinet’s position, Siliya could not give a categorical response.
“Of course there is a very clear line between the government and the party, that there is the President, the Vice-President and the secretary general and the central committee of the party, and that what is discussed there are at party political level. The issues discussed in Cabinet with Cabinet with Cabinet ministers are not always the same things that are discussed in the Central Committee. There are some things that are purely government. So what is secret about the fact that shops and markets were demolished? It is a very public thing,” said Siliya.
“He is not asking about secret things that we talk about in Cabinet, he is talking about public things that affect the people everywhere. There is nothing wrong with his showing interest to ask and say this is the party that sponsored you, why are you doing this. The minister of local government has a responsibility to explain, not only to the PF secretary general but to the people of Zambia that voted for the party.”