People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti has complained that 2018 has been a difficult year for opposition parties in Zambia, saying opposition leaders have constantly been arrested and denied opportunities to interact with citizens.

Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s Costa show, Sunday evening, Mulongoti lamented that 2018 had been a difficult year for opposition parties because political players were still being harassed by law enforcement officers, just for wanting to share their knowledge with the general citizenry.

He also reflected upon his time in the MMD government and how leaders in that regime managed to evade corruption from Chinese nationals at that time.

“The procurement law allows two things: you can do a public tender or you can do single-sourcing. Single-sourcing is intended to quicken the process if there are not too many competing bidders. What is happening is that they (PF government) have avoided public tenders, they’ve settled for single-sourcing because they can come to you and give you a loader. Go to Zesco, for instance, there are too many materials there that have been delivered that can be useful to Zesco because they gave orders to cadres. Let them go and do an audit at Zesco, it will be a disaster! This is the type of thing we are talking about. Do it, considering the interest of the people. But it looks like it’s overridden anything else. What would you expect anyway? We’ve served in those offices with dignity, we came out with dignity. Not that what they are doing was not available to us, the Chinese were still there, Lebanese were still there, but they knew our integrity,” Mulongoti explained.

“When a person walks into your office, they can read corruption on your face by the way you react. A Chinese walks into your office, you stand up as a minister, you even want to salute, the Chinese know that this one is a weak soul. This is what’s common, we’ve faced those Chinese before, but we didn’t do wrong things with them. We respected the people of Zambia and we said this is a job. My money is my salary and allowances. The minute I begin to extend my hand into corruption, that’s it. So, it is fashionable for people in PF. But a day will come when the PF will be made to account for everything, and that’s the day of reckoning.”

Mulongoti also complained about a lack of a level political playing field under PF.

“When we were in the MMD, I will tell you, if we had taken this path that PF is taking, they would not have been in government today. PF went all over, they were allowed to campaign. Mr Sata went all over, he was on Radio Phoenix, he was everywhere. He allowed to do that. But have you ever seen me on ZNBC? Mr Sata had opportunities to go on ZNBC. I want to sure you that when I was Minister of Information, I gave instructions that nobody must be stopped from coming to the pubic broadcaster. As the editors who were there, I insisted on that. And one good thing about Mr Mwanawasa, he was a wonderful lawyer, he respected the rule of law and emphasised to do what’s lawful. He encouraged us to do, saying: ‘do what’s lawful, not what’s politically convenient to you; follow the law’ and that’s what we did,” he recalled.

He described this year as difficult for the opposition in Zambia.

“2018 has been quite a difficult year for the opposition. You’ve seen arrests and denying of opportunities for the opposition to freely interact with the people. A press club in Kabwe invited me to go and address them, but I was stopped by the police. Just imagine, I am harmless, I don’t carry guns, but I was still stopped from addressing a press club in Kabwe! What kind of behaviour is that? Why don’t you want people to be enlightened? Our role is to awaken the people, that’s our role. We have served in government before, we have gone to universities to gather knowledge. We want to share that knowledge with the people, but that’s what the PF don’t want. They want to turn when it comes to call us names and threaten us. But that’s not how democracy works,” Mulongoti said.

Meanwhile, Mulongoti charged that the PF only agreed to dialogue because their demand for recognition had been defeated.

“We’ve been calling for that dialogue for a long time. In fact, what delayed it was the arrogance of the PF. They kept insisting that there would be no dialogue without recognition. But there is no provision in the law where I am compelled to recognise you. Once the law is obeyed by the people who will swear you in and pronounce you President, there is no obligation on my part to recognise you. But the PF kept on clinging onto that hopeless condition! As far as about five months go, the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) made a similar pronouncement of ‘no dialogue without recognition.’ Now, it was on quick sand, it was anchored on nothing. We challenged them to say: ‘show us the piece of legislation that mandates us to recognise somebody, and along the way, they begun to realise that they were not as strong as they thought they were. That’s when they started caving in and talking about dialogue. But they have never been sincere over this thing,” said Mulongoti.