Civil rights activist Brian Changala says it’s a mockery to the people of Zambia for President Edgar Lungu to invite former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who is a corruption convict, and flaunt him around to citizens when the country is bleeding from systematic corruption.
And Changala says, just like Olmert, President Lungu will be the first Zambian President to serve a prison sentence for corruption.
Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer who served as the 12th Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009 and before that as a cabinet minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006. Between his first and second stints as a cabinet member, he served as mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. After serving as PM he was sentenced to serve a prison term over convictions for accepting bribes and for obstruction of justice during his terms as mayor of Jerusalem and as trade minister.
On Saturday, State House released pictures of President Lungu on a morning routine road run with Olmert and a horde of auxiliary staff.
Commenting on the development, Changala said Zambians deserved to know what business the former Israeli Prime Minister was doing in the country with President Lungu, especially in light of the questionable transactions that Zambia is conducting with the Middle Eastern Country.
“First and foremost, it’s very strange that the President of the Republic of Zambia does not find any shame or restraint in the way he conducts state affairs. The visiting former Israeli Prime Minister is a convict of corruption. And at the moment, the elephant in this room in this country is corruption. Corruption which is from head to toe. From State House to a cleaner in government and quasi government institutions, and yet the President has this courage, the audacity to bring in the country a convict of corruption from Israel as his guest. Even to launder him by appearing with him publicly without any regret, remorse or indeed shame, and bringing the name of the country into ridicule,” Changala said.
“President Edgar Lungu owes this country a full explanation, it’s not business as usual. Why is it that it has become his style of governance to associate and mingle with people of questionable character and background. This is not a private issue, He is the President of the Republic of Zambia and we need to know because there is a saying ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’. President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s association with questionable characters is a source of worry. And he is presiding over a corrupt government, he could be the most corrupt in the history of this country by any standard. And he doesn’t seem to restrain himself or indeed show any commitment to fight the scourge of corruption, instead, it is corruption that is uniting him with the corruption convict.”
Changala wondered when President Lungu became friends with Olmert.
“One of the answers that the President must give the people of Zambia is; are they friends? If they are friends, when did they become friends? Because President Lungu has a historical background which does not make him an international figure before he became President. he is not a Vernon Mwaanga, who started politics and mixing with the George Bush’s of this world at a tender age of 19, no! Bwana Edgar Lungu has coined friendships with people using the Presidency. So because he is using the Presidency, he owes the people of Zambia answers over what type of friends he has created during this period that he has been privileged to run and govern this country? What is the former Israeli Prime Minister doing in this country? That is very very cardinal, and we are having a situation where Africa Confidential is talking about shoddy deals in Israel. Is the former Prime Minister an agent of such deals? Did he just fly in from Israel to come and jog with the President of the Republic of Zambia or there is anything more behind the scenes? We need answers,” said Changala.
“If Lungu is not careful, he will end up in jail just like the man visiting him at State House. Olmert was the first Prime Minister of Israel to actually serve a prison sentence and President Lungu will end up the same way, he will be first former President of Zambia to actually enter prison. That is why it’s very important that we know who is confusing our President, because he’s in a confused state. Is the former Israeli Prime Minister one of those who have messed up our President and the Presidency? These are legitimate questions that demand to be answered. Why is our President always in wrong company, why? Please help me to get answers from Bwana Edgar Chagwa Lungu. I think we are getting fed up with this king of behaviour. We need a President who inspires the nation. We need a President who will conduct business in the most transparent and credible manner. We need a President who moves in a league of eminent, prominent and distinguished citizens of the world.”
The 73-year-old Olmert was convicted in March 2014 for taking bribes and was released from prison in July 2017 after serving 16 months behind bars. Describing his fall as “painful and strange,” Olmert became the first former Israeli prime minister to enter prison and acknowledged that he had “made mistakes.”