NAREP leader Elias Chipimo has announced his decision to retire from active politics saying his talents can better be utilised to serve Zambia by creating opportunities in the private sector.

And Chipimo has warned Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini that history will judge him harshly for not doing more to prevent the “assault on the constitution”.

Speaking at a press briefing at his house in Lusaka, Monday, Chipimo boasted that he had lasted 10 years in politics without a single sexual or financial scandal.

“I announce today that I am stepping down from my role as President of the National Restoration Party with immediate effect. I am guided in this decision by a Scripture that came to mind as I had the agonizing discussion with my inner circle regarding the decision I was about to make. In predicting his death, Jesus prepared his disciples by pointing out a wise truth “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24).What does it mean for me to die and become a seed that gives life? It simply means that I have to die as a politician in order to give life to future politicians that can take on the responsibility of addressing the issues I have grappled with over the past 10 years,” Chipimo said.

“I say this without any regret or bitterness, knowing that I can feel proud that I never compromised my values – although they were severely tested. In my years as a politician, I never cheated anyone, never had a sexual of financial scandal, never bribed anyone. I cannot say this was my life before I found my Christian calling and none of this would have been possible without a firm faith and belief that I am on this earth to serve a mighty and awesome God who will go before me even on my new path. If I, a sinner, can change, so can all the politicians that have given Christianity lip service and violated every tenet of faith during their time in leadership,”

Chipimo said he would be moving on to develop major opportunities in the private sector.

“I will be moving on to develop major opportunities in the private sector in four key connected areas: agricultural diversification through the development of the growing of essential oil crops primarily for export. Technology spread into rural communities for ease of inclusion of vulnerable groups using commercially viable solutions. Energizing rural areas with power solutions that are innovative, affordable, available and appropriate so as to achieve more than 60% rural connectivity within the next 10 years. And finally, contributing to the development of a structured mentorship ecosystem to support local entrepreneurs at all levels of development,” Chipimo said.

“The sacrifice I have made towards building and developing a new culture of politics based on issues and ideas not insults; vision and values and not vague and valueless promises will not have been in vain if there are others to take on the mantle of moral leadership that I have worked so hard to foster. I have not always succeeded. I have fallen short. I have often let down my team when they needed me most. I have often found the task of having to pretend I can bring change in order to win hearts and minds too taxing for my sense of integrity.”

Chipimo said his former vice, Charles Maboshe, would serve as acting president of the party until a substantive office bearer was appointed.

And when asked what lessons he drew from his post as president of the party, Chipimo said he was too rigid with his principles.

“A lot of lessons are still being assessed right now but I think the greatest lesson for me is not working the politics in a way that was consistent with my values. And I think I allowed myself to fall into the general approach into politics. We never insulted, we didn’t steal or cheat. But for a long time, things that I knew were happening, I condoned, even if it wasn’t me personally doing those things. I think I could have had a great stamp of moral authority on the process of our own internal politics and managed some of the defections that happened especially at the secretary general level,” Chipimo said.

“It’s always a very difficult thing when you are running a party because of the levels of need and desperation. So, we can set up structures but it’s very easy for somebody to come and buy those structures because we may somehow lack the means to ensure that those structures continue to run. I was presented with the opportunity to fund the party but I think my approach was a bit too naïve. I could have convinced those that were looking for certain deals to be done not to structure any support that they might have given us on what they wanted to get out of it, but really on the basis of what was good from Zambia. So being too rigid with my principles and not allowing some flexibility so that I could work with others who had different approaches. I think if something could [have] been done differently, it could have given our party a bit more of the boost that it needed at that crucial time. But I think the most important thing really is that we remain true to who we are before God.”

Meanwhile, Chipimo warned Speaker Matibini that history would judge him harshly over Bill 10.

“I have a message actually for the Speaker. Dr Patrick Matibini is someone I have known for many years and he is somebody whose views and approaches I very much respect. On this issue, I feel that history is going to judge him quite harshly. He is the gatekeeper and should have done more to protect the assault on our constitution that is being proposed by the amendments before Parliament. It is a travesty of the responsibility that is placed on our leaders to gather together a select group that purportedly represents stakeholders in the nation that comes up with resolutions that contravene and contradict the views of the people as gathered by various constitution review commissions and to present this as something that should guide our most sacred interactions through our most important statutes, the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. This is a fight that must be taken up by every citizen. This is not a fight for political parties,” said Chipimo.