Former Secretary to cabinet in the Mwanawasa administration, Lesley Mbula, has urged civil servants to avoid partisan politics and be professional.

Speaking when he featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka star program this morning, Mbula who is also former Zambian high commissioner to South Africa, reminded government workers that the civil service was a professional institution that is not expected to change despite the change of regime.

“I have been secretary and deputy secretary to the cabinet for Dr. Kaunda who appointed me as deputy secretary, Chiluba confirmed me as secretary to the cabinet, Mwanawasa retained me as secretary to the cabinet, Rupiah Banda had me as his ambassador, Mr. Sata when I was secretary to the cabinet he was minister without portfolio, a very important position. So I can claim that I served also with Mr. Sata. So I served under all the presidents except the current one and that is the experience I have. And because I operated as a professional, any president who came after, took me, because they knew I did things which were for the good of the people and not the party in power.

“This is my message to the colleagues in the civil service that they must be officers who can serve any party in government and this can only be done If we focus ourselves on professional performance in our duties otherwise we shall be suspects by incoming parties and we will have changes after changes. You need a civil service that is permanent that is why a man who heads a ministry is called permanent secretary, at individual level he is not permanent but the system that he represents is permanent and therefore, we must have civil servants who must serve professionally so that other parties which come into power can retain them for continuity. This is very important,” he said.

Mbula said Turkish philanthropist Fethullah Gülen who is behind Horizon School in Lusaka is a good man who was among the first Turkish investors in the country.

“When I was high commissioner to South Africa, a group of wives of diplomats from different countries were visiting Soweto… they made an appointment and came to my office where they told me about Horizon School. I was attracted by three things that they mentioned about this school. They said our school emphasises the teaching of Mathematics, Science, ITC and morality. But you know, Turkey was painted as a very bad country by the British, they told us about the invasion of Cyprus and as commonwealth members, they told us that Turkey was not a good country to associate with,” Mbula recalled.

“So I asked for permission from my government to visit and I went to Turkey with a team of technocrats from the ministry of education. During my 14 days stay in Turkey, I concluded that they are good people and I recommended to my government that we should allow the Turkish to set up a school in Zambia. And the Turkish flag was flying for the first time in Zambia. And the Turkish Embassy was established after the School was already built, so the school led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Fethullah Gülen is a moderate Turkish Moslem cleric, he is a very moderate and tolerant man. He has been teaching about, fighting poverty, fighting ignorance and intolerance.”

He further dismissed claims by the Turkish Ambassador to Zambia who claimed that some Turkish nationals linked to terrorists were running some schools in Zambia.

“We have heard about these concerns and as the board of directors, we have been to government, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Home Affairs, Inspector General of Police, including the United Nations agencies; they have not found any of the Turkish nationals working at Horizon School and staying in Zambia, who is associated with terrorism. They are men and women of integrity; I have associated with them because I know they are people of high integrity,” said Mbula.

“As at now, Guleni lives in the United States of America because he is threatened by the Turkish government. The government of Turkey started by going to Barrack Obama and asked him to extradite Guleni. Obama told them that this man can’t be the terrorist, if he was, we would be the first country to know. When Obama left, the Turkish government went to Donald Trump and Trump said ‘this man can’t be a terrorist, he is a great man. If he was a terrorist, we could have been the first country to know.”