Former State House Press Aide George Chellah has charged that former Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda is insulting late Michael Sata by telling the public that his presidency was a vulnerable.
And Chellah has challenged Chikwanda to explain to the nation how his company Sigma benefited from government policies which he formulated as minister of finance.
On Sunday, Chikwanda said, while featuring on a ZNBC’s progarmme claimed that Sata gave him the original speech that he wanted to read in parliament but that it was swapped by his advisors, much to his surprise.
When TV host Grevazio Zulu asked if it was possible for State House staff to do such a thing to a Head of State, the former minister said the presidency was a very vulnerable institution.
“Yes, it is possible. I had a copy myself; he asked me to look at it, so he asked me to keep his copy, which I produced, I didn’t manufacture the copy. In that speech, which was read, he substituted with that bulk speech, which he didn’t read, because he realized it wasn’t what he wanted to read so he started, unfortunately, he just started making standing jokes… The presidency is a very vulnerable institution,” Chikwanda said.
But in an interview, Chellah said he was uncomfortable calling an elderly person a liar, but stressed that he was not saying the truth.
“I don’t want to call Mr Chikwanda a liar, but I don’t know what else to call a person who doesn’t say the truth. To see a man his age lie on national TV saddened me. I saw him, and I could see his eyes, they saddened me. How could Mr Chikwanda say that ‘Mr Sata gave me the speech, really? Mr Sata gave him the speech? At what point? So that he can do what with it?” Chellah wondered.
“Maybe the challenge I can just throw to Mr Chikwanda is that can he tell you the last time he saw Mr Sata alive? Let Mr Chikwanda be honest and tell the nation the last time he saw president Sata alive and that will explain the type of relationship they had before he died. Let him say ‘before he left for London, I was with him’ or ‘two days before, I was with him’. That is going to help and put everything into context.”
Asked to explain if indeed the presidency was vulnerable during Sata’s illness, Chellah said the late president’s faculties were intact despite struggling with his health, adding that it was an insult for a family member to ridicule him in his death.
“When you look at the character of Mr Sata, is he a person you can manipulate? Unless people didn’t know him well, was that a president you can manipulate? You think a president can realise that he has been given a wrong speech at Parliament and thereafter he fails to take action immediately against the officers responsible?” Because after Parliament, President Sata went to New York with the same team that Mr Chikwanda is accusing and from New York, we returned with the same team. And we left for London, with the same team. So for me, it doesn’t tie up.”
“If the people Mr Chikwanda worked for before were vulnerable, Mr Sata wasn’t. He knows the difficulties which even he, Mr Chikwanda faced to make certain things happen with the late president. Just between the two of them, he knows the challenges he faced trying to do things under him; how certain things would basically be thrown in his face, he knows. So what vulnerability is he talking about? So for me, I actually find that as an insult to Mr Sata from a man whom he considered as a relative. It’s a pity that a man with vast experience would decide to handle state matters in the manner he has chosen; for what benefit, I don’t know.”
Chellah said he served his boss diligently and cared for him to his death.
“Mr Chikwanda is related to Mr Sata, it saddens me to see that looking at the way I cared for my boss who is his relatives, the old man can go on TV to say things like that. When he came to London to get the body of the late, Mr Chikwanda thanked me, he said ‘George mwana wandi, ifwe nga ulupwa, twatotela. Wasunga ba sukulu, lesa akupale (we are a family are grateful that you have taken care of the old man, may God bless you)’ that is what he told me in Church in London. So it shocks me today that he can have an axe to grind with me after what we went through. I can’t imagine that he can talk about me in this manner, or try to humiliate me in this manner and by extension, my boss who is his relative, it is just sad,” he said.
Chellah wished that people don’t treat Chikwanda the way he has treated the late Sata.
“What has happened to Michael Sata today and the manner Mr Chikwanda is conducting himself after Mr Sata’s death, I don’t wish it on Mr Chikwanda. Looking at the way he has decided to basically undress my boss in public, calling him vulnerable in his death. I don’t wish it on him. I pray that God will be so kind on him such that once God takes him, all those that will remain will not come and behave in the manner Mr Chikwanda has behaved towards Mr Sata. I honestly and sincerely from my heart don’t wish it on Mr Chikwanda when his time comes,” he said.
“Mr Chikwanda knows the way I took care of my the president, these are things that I can’t say to the public, I don’t even need to tell anybody. I looked after old Michael in a manner that I haven’t even looked after my own father. That’s a fact, I cared for that man like he is my own father both in sickness and in health. That’s a fact everyone knows, including his wife and children. But I am not bothered at all, it is a lesson, I am young, I am learning. So it is not something that I can even take to heart. I have picked my lessons and I am understanding life much more deeper. I guess I will be a better person when I reach Mr Chikwanda’s age. I am at peace with the fact that I diligently served the man who gave me a rare opportunity to serve in government at that level and at that young age. I will never disrespect him now that he is not here with us. I remain forever indebted for what he did for me, and I am grateful that I was in conversation with him until 4 hours before his passing. In fact his last words to me were, ‘so ba George, good bye and thank you very much for everything’.”
Meanwhile, in a statement released earlier, Chella challenged Chikwanda to explain how his company benefited from government policies when he was finance minister.
“I can only describe Mr. Chikwanda’s attempts at linking innocent persons to his fictional conspiracies as malicious and a cruel attempt to settle old scores for the work some of us did in stopping certain activities meant to abuse Mr Sata’s presidency at the time he was unwell, which I will at an appropriate time have occasion to discuss. Perhaps ba shikulu would do well to concentrate his efforts on explaining the policy decisions made during his time at the Ministry of Finance and whether he or his company, Sigma, benefited from these policy decisions,” stated Chellah.
“Let ba shikulu take a rest. Allow him chance to reflect and pen down his memoirs alongside telling family stories to his grandchildren. Ba shikulu has done enough to contribute to the current state of our economy, he surely must have a lot to reflect on rather than spinning incredible tales of conspiracies.”