One must listen to his or her inner voice whenever there is a feeling that a continued stay in public office may endanger the political success of a sitting Republican President, says President Edgar Lungu’s outgoing Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda.
And Chanda says the Financial Intelligence Centre reports are tantamount to institutionalising witch hunt, lamenting that the centre listed him as having received US$3.3 million when he has never seen such kind of money.
Addressing journalists at State House following his shock announcement to resign from office, Thursday, Chanda said he decided to quit his position after listening to his “inner voice.”
He explained that the decision was taken to ensure that President Lungu maintained his political success as Head of State.
“In supporting the President, the clarion call I make to all of us who worry about him and care about his vision is that, whenever you think or feel that your stay will, even for one per cent, endanger the political success of the President, you must listen to your inner voice and do the right thing so that you support the President to succeed because there’s 17 million Zambians, and Amos Chanda is one person; Minister X is just another,” Chanda said.
“So, whenever every one of us reaches a point where you feel your stay will impede the successful, cohesive running of government, you must be able to look at the bigger picture and project the greater good, the greatest good for the greatest majority. So, when certain questions are raised about you, sometimes, the inner voice must tell you whether you are guilty or not guilty to ensure that you do not undermine, not for a moment, the chances of the President to succeed.”
He challenged Cabinet Ministers to rally behind President Lungu ahead of the crucial 2021 general election and ensure he succeeded in turning around Zambia’s already-stressed economy.
“I want the President to succeed; I think all Ministers must want the President to succeed. In fact, they must do a lot; they must do more to ensure that the President succeeds. The economic situation he is focused on every day to make sure that there is stability,” Chanda added.
“So, no one, who worries about the President, must do anything that reduces his chances to succeed. It’s the economy, number one, and other things fall into place; individuals as it were will always be smaller than the bigger picture, which is why, for me, wherever I’ll be, my support and loyalty to the President is unqualified because I believe in the vision of the PF (Patriotic Front) and I believe in his personal vision; I know exactly where he wants to take this country. And I really do believe every one of us must support him within the auspices of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).”
And Chanda said FIC was institutionalising witch hunt.
“It’s a witch hunt, I can’t find any better description of that thing rather than a witch hunt…I can’t describe it any better than how the President described it…FIC has placed itself in an unnecessary position of controversy,” Chanda said.
“$3.3 million, I have never seen that kind of money. They put a report to the President, they put another report to the public, then they put a faceless one to the donors, to the media and then the Media asks me. I want $3.3 million dollars, I want that kind of money but I am on the list of having acquired $3.3 million dollars. So if that’s what you want me to audit, get on with it. I can give you my bank account.”
Asked if he could welcome a lifestyle audit now that he was no longer in public office, Chanda said he had nothing to fear but warned that the witch hunt would destroy the country.
“I have no problem with lifestyle audit but let me tell you, we are not going to institutionalize witch hunt. Who is person who determines that Amos Chanda, the press secretary can’t live in Kabulonga? I’ll give you an absurd example, I was investigated by the ACC and one of the reasons was that I am staying in Kabulonga. As news editor in the Zambia Daily Mail, I was staying in Kabulonga. How can a presidential spokesperson not live in Kabulonga? That is a lifestyle audit. I have no problem whatsoever (with lifestyle audits) but I can sound a warning that this witch hunt will destroy the country. It is basically saying “surrender what you have until you prove that you got in the right way. We have to be careful not to institutionalize witch hunt but what do I have to fear?” Chanda asked.
Meanwhile, Chanda advised the incoming press aide to ensure he or she has a “thicker skin” than him because the demands of the office attract a lot of abuse.
“My key advice is that, with the advent of social media and the outbreak of recklessness speech in the political space is that, they’ll probably need a thicker skin than mine! They must be prepared to take a lot of abuse and still resist the temptation to deploy State power against critics; it’s a challenging, balancing act,” said Chanda, who earlier on thanked the Head of State for affording him the opportunity to serve in office.
Chanda also said he was going into the private sector and other prospects but also hinted that he would join mainstream politics at some point.
Chanda’s resignation has left widespread speculation as the public seeks to know whether he was fired and asked to step down or he gave up after years of infighting at State House with fellow aides.