United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ) president Charles Chanda has withdrawn his participation from the ongoing National Dialogue Forum (NDF), citing biased superintendence on the part of NDF chairperson Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi.
At about 10:15 hours during the Wednesday morning deliberations, Chanda stood up to Prof Mwanalushi, accusing him of side-lining him when he wanted to contribute to a debate, which was considering the Bank of Zambia Act.
Chanda bitterly complained that the chair was giving too much preference to Cabinet ministers and members of parliament, especially those from the ruling party.
When Chanda made an effort to make a contribution, Prof Mwanalushi ordered him to sit down and wait to be given time to speak later.
But the opposition leader felt ill-treated by the chairman’s guidance and opted to walk out and withdraw his party’s participation from proceedings at the Forum.
He thanked the delegates for the time he spent with them and wished them well in their deliberations, to which Professor Mwanalushi said: “Thank you, and please switch off your microphone before you leave.”
Chanda’s protest walk-out from the Forum attracted a media frenzy as well running commentaries from both observers and delegates at the controversial Forum, who were either criticising or sympathising with him over his stunning decision.
And speaking to journalists immediately after he stormed out of the Forum at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Chanda regretted having initially gone to the NDF to waste his time, charging that the outcome of the Forum would be a PF manifesto and not a national Constitution.
“I withdraw because the whole thing is a shame, actually. I came here with the hope that we can have a Constitution that will be right. Now, you can see the chair is biased! How can you have a biased chair? I raised an issue that is very important; he couldn’t allow me to debate it! But he allowed Honourable [Given] Lubinda to raise an issue from the previous day. Clearly, they are side-lining me, so why should I waste my time here? I have a business to manage. I am telling you, what is coming out here it is a sham of a Constitution. So, the chair should inform the [NDF] secretariat that the UPPZ president has withdrawn from the Forum. I have just wasted my time here! We are trying to support them, but look at their attitude. He (the Chair) can’t point at us (when we raise our hands wanting to contribute), but he can point at members of parliament and ministers, when we are delegates, what’s that?” Chanda wondered.
He regretted that the chairperson did not let him air out his concerns about a matter as important as how the Bank of Zambia was managing the country’s free-falling kwacha and the foreign exchange rate.
“The issue I wanted to raise for your record, is about Bank of Zambia. The Bank of Zambia is not managing our currency well; they are not managing the foreign exchange. This is the only country in SADC where you can ship out dollars and nobody checks! I bought a piece of land for US$1.6 million and I gave it to a Chinese. And this Chinese took the US $1.6 million through our Airport and not through the bank! But which country allows that? Where is the Bank of Zambia? And we are trying to correct things here, but they don’t want listen to us. So what we are going to have is going to be a [ruling] party manifesto, not a Constitution,” complained Chanda.