President Edgar Lungu’s sacking of former Community Development Minister Emerine Kabanshi last week in response to the theft of donor funds has not resolved the problem of systemic corruption in government, says Bahati member of parliament Harry Kalaba.
And Kalaba, a 2021 presidential aspirant, says 2021 will not be about removing President Lungu from State House, but uprooting the entire PF system and putting in place a sober regime.
Meanwhile, Kalaba says Zambians have allowed mediocrity from their leaders for so long, adding that it is a cancer that needs to be cured.
Speaking when he featured on a special interview on Choma Maanu Radio station in Choma District, Monday, Kalaba, the former foreign affairs minister, regretted the PF government’s rampant theft of donor funds, which were meant to aid the poor and vulnerable in society, who were still hopelessly wallowing in poverty.
He observed that Kabanshi’s firing in the wake of the Social Cash Transfer scandal has not resolved the problem of systemic corruption in government.
“The money meant for the vulnerable beneficiaries is misapplied, and you fire one minister and you think you have sorted out the problem? Please! Every time it’s cosmetic solutions to real serious problems. That is why in 2021, it is not just the question of removing the PF from State House; it is to change the status quo. We must uproot PF completely and have a new system in place, a system that will deal with the challenges that Zambians are going through,” he said.
“It is now time to call this country to order, it is time to tell our people that the time to change the administrations is now! The time to change governance is now, because we have a group of politicians masquerading as leaders, but have only managed to betray the confidence of the people. That is why people have lost confidence in politics because they have seen that politicians are the only ones benefiting from the empire called ‘politics.’ So, they have begun shunning politics because it is not responding to their challenges…if this is the attitude people had towards politics in 1964, we could not have gotten our independence.”
He said there was need for a leadership code to deter members of parliament and government officials from engaging into businesses, while serving in their respective public offices.
“We are not short of materials in this country. We have got plenty of water and fertile land and we have plenty of minerals. The only thing this country is struggling with is leadership because leaders, now, are the ones who are being suppliers. When I was minister, I never supplied anything; as a minister, I never tendered. But today, you are finding that ministers are the ones who are tendering; members of parliament are the ones who are busy tendering! But how can you be a member of parliament and you are also busy running a business? How will you represent your people like that? If you are a nominated member of parliament, yes, we can understand. But if you are a member of parliament for Bahati, and you also want to be a big businessman… you can’t do it! You can’t have two things at the same time. That’s why Kaunda had what he called: ‘leadership code’; leaders had to be checked. And China, today, is still doing that. It’s either you are getting paid from government or from your businesses, because you can’t be using government to propel yourself! So, the leadership code is an important tool to keep elected leaders in check,” Kalaba argued.
And Kalaba said he had decided to leave the PF government and fight for the poor Zambian majority because he could not become a bootlicker like others.
He insisted that he was not going to be a bootlicker of some few people who were plundering national resources because he was not sent to Parliament to go and sing praises.
“The people of Choma did not elect any member of parliament so that he and his family can live well, no! They didn’t elect me to become fatter when I go to Parliament. They elected me because they had hope that, ‘maybe if Kalaba becomes member of parliament, maybe he will talk for us, maybe he will not be a coward. He will stand up and say it if things are wrong and we will be represented right’. That is the role a member of parliament has, that is the role that I know I have. My role is not to sing soprano or praise everything or be a bootlicker, no! I am not going to be a bootlicker; we have got enough bootlickers already. I am not going to be a part of that, I will speak for the Zambian people,” he added.
Kalaba also encouraged Zambians to ensure that they vote wisely in 2021.
“The 2021 election will be a game-changer. The 2021 is an election that will define where this country is going. If we don’t choose properly in 2021, we will regress. And once a regression is made, Zambia is doomed, and I can tell you that the change we seek is right in the hands of the people. The people are the ones who have got the keys in their hands to open the destiny of this country. A destiny, which has been sat on by a few individuals, whose only preoccupation is personal advancement. We are saying, ‘not now’, we have escorted politicians enough to luxury, they have benefited, while the people have continued wallowing in poverty! Politicians are the ones who have been winning in this game and the Zambian people have continued losing. But we are telling them: ‘you have had enough, your time is up and 2021 you are gone’,” vowed Kalaba.
“I am not joining anybody who doesn’t convince me that the purpose of joining into government is not to do business. If it is just to make business, I should have remained in the PF government or I should have resigned in 2020 or 2021 if my purpose was to make money. But I resigned simply on principle because the leaders had gone ahead and the poor people had remained behind. Zambians have been spectators for far too long. We have allowed this mediocrity to go on, it is now becoming a cancer in our country and we have to cure it. And we will not cure it just by having numbers stuck together and say: ‘I am joining this.’ That’s why I am saying the Democratic Party is the only avenue now that has got firm policies, their manifesto is solid on the youth and the women.”