Former Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba says the Patriotic Front government is afraid of facing him as a presidential candidate in the 2021 elections because he has too much information about the illegal dealings of those in government.
And Kalaba says there was no misconduct in British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet’s tweets about corruption levels in Zambia as revealed by the Financial Intelligence Centre.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo last week upheld the Registrar of Societies’ decision to cancel the registration of the Democratic Party on grounds that it had a defunct secretariat, leaving Kalaba who is Bahati member of parliament without a political formation to stand on in 2021.
The former minister whose resignation from government punched corruption holes in President Lungu’s administration, said the de-registration of the party was out of the PF’s fear to face him.
“For me as Harry Kalaba, I am an independent member of the Democratic Party; they wrote a letter inviting me to be there Presidential candidate in 2021 and I think for me, the DP is on very firm ground by taking this matter to Court because people’s freedoms and rights should not be sat on just like that. In this country we fought for independence not to allow one or two people to begin sitting on people’s liberties and rights, so that will not work,” he said.
So am sitting here and wondering, could this have been the reason why they wanted to de-register it? Is Harry Kalaba so powerful now that wherever he goes someone is losing sleep? What is it that someone has done and are scared of that if Harry Kalaba goes through this route they will be made to account for? I have been Foreign Affairs Minister and I know too much, but I am sure the right time will come when this thing will be discussed. Me I am not a leper, anybody can call me. You will recall that even when there was that party which was being spearheaded by Nedson Nzowa, when I was invited to be part of them because they were also considering to invite me to be their candidate for 2021, it were not registered. They refused to register the Zambian Democrats. The Democratic Party comes to the fore and also says ‘Harry Kalaba, we love your leadership qualities maybe you should work with us’, they are de-registered after existing for the last 27 years. Don’t you see a pattern there?”
He said regardless of the political parties that the PF de-registers, his name would remain.
“They were saying that I am not a factor but how come because of Harry Kalaba who is not a factor you’ve refused to register Zambian Democrats? How come because of Harry who is not a factor you started harassing Democratic Party? But here now is the thing, I have my own brand as Harry Kalaba, I have a brand which can’t be de-registered. You will not de-register Harry Kalaba. My ideals, my values, my principles, will not be sacrificed on the alter of political expedience. And those who are supporting me must know that nothing has changed. The same Harry Kalaba they are supporting they must continue supporting because I am here and the values I have are here. At the right time, the appropriate vehicle which we will use at that time, will be announced. So those who are de-registering innocent political parties are just shooting in the dark.”
Kalaba advised the PF government to concentrate on improving the lives of Zambians and not fighting political opponents.
“This country has got a lot of problems and I think if people are serious, they should have concentrated on those problems. The majority of our youths are not employed, the majority of our women do not have access to capital. Our own fathers in the homes are failing to provide for their children because they don’t have jobs. These are serious issues that government should concern itself with. Because de-registering a political party, has it brought employment to the people of this country? Has de-registering the Democratic Party helped to create space at the University of Zambia? In this country we have taken trivialities to become important matters and important issues are now seen as trivial. That should stop! Those are the kind of politics we are taking to the grave in 2021,” he said.
And Kalaba defended tweets by the British High Commissioner on the corruption levels in the country.
Last week, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya’s remarked that Cochrane-Dyet was being undiplomatic by taking to twitter to air his concerns about governance in Zambia.
Kalaba told News Diggers! in an interview that there was nothing wrong with what the British Envoy had done to warrant punishment from government.
“These wrangles [between government and the British envoy] are not necessary [because] there is nothing wrong that the British envoy has done or said that should warrant this kind of reprimand. It is high time we got civil in what we do. There should be a better way and such matters sometimes are better left to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Handle because there is a certain decorum in which diplomats must be handled, especially diplomats of the British Government’s caliber. There is nothing wrong he (the diplomat) has done, what he has just done is to talk about the Financial Intelligence (FCI) and talking about the governance issues which are in public domain. Was there need for anybody to say he has got too much idle time on his hands? Was there need for us as country to be confrontational towards a diplomat who has done everything within his powers together with his government to help us go through with our development programmes? It was not necessary, this was not necessary,” Kalaba said.
Kalaba advised government officials and the Chief Government Spokesperson particularly to understand the distinctive roles of each particular government ministry.
“What has the High Commissioner said? Did he say ‘prosecute this one, did he mention any leader in his tweets?’ no, he was simply applauding the purpose of the Financial Intelligence Centre. What is wrong with that? Because that is part of good governance. We don’t want tired methodologies here, so my advice to my comrades is that let’s observe our territory. When you have a diplomat coming to your country, it comes with a territory. We don’t expect diplomats to come here and just sit mute even if something wrong happens because those are the most important things that diplomats come here for,” said Kalaba.
“So there is absolutely thing wrong that the envoy did. Sometimes let’s just allow the necessary ministries of foreign affairs to be dealing with those things because we will end up embarrassing ourselves. This scenario is not right and it’s embarrassing the country. There is no need to admonish the diplomat, the diplomat was standing on firm ground and for me, there is nothing that he said that should even warrant what madam Chief Government Spokesperson [Dora Siliya] said.”