Lusaka lawyer Elias Chipimo says his decision to resign from active politics has nothing to do with the appointment of his brother, Dr Francis Chipimo, as Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor for Operations.
And Chipimo says the Patriotic Front (PF) is practicing “silly” politics by refusing help from opposition political players, in apparent reference to government’s refusal of a generator that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema wanted to donate to Chawama Clinic last week.
Meanwhile, the former opposition leader has advised President Edgar Lungu to develop a habit of finding out the truth about what is happening in the country by himself to avoid being fooled.
Chipimo, who recently stepped down from his position as National Restoration Party (NAREP) president and consequently retired from active politics, has further said acts of violence in South Africa against foreigners could start happening in Zambia if government does not address itself with the sufferings of citizens.
Speaking on Hot FM’s Frank on Hot programme, Tuesday, Chipimo said he decided to quit politics because he had limitations of his own that made him ineffective for his own team and that he largely under-estimated his task at the time NAREP was formed.
“It’s only natural that people would conclude that the appointment of Dr Francis Chipimo as Deputy Governor [in charge of] Operations has played some role in my decision to retire from politics. I heard a rumour that when the news [of my brother’s appointment] came out, people were actually saying ‘it’s Elias Chipimo who’s been appointed’, because of course in these communities, you get all of these things. My younger brother has worked for the Bank of Zambia for many years now, so this is not a random thing. It’s an indication of a studious, dedicated young individual who is highly professional and his career and my career have absolutely got nothing to do with each other. My politics did not impact his work in any way and his work did not impact my politics. He was never a source of information or anything. He was just my brother and that is all he has been. My decision has never been founded on what’s going on in another place,” Chipimo said.
He said he decided to resign because he discovered that he was not effective enough for his own team due to a number of limitations.
“Did I underestimate my task at hand? Yes and no, yes in the sense that I assumed that the opportunity that was there for NAREP to really get a strong foothold in our politics, it ended quicker. The window closed much more quickly than I thought it would. I assumed that within 15 years, we would be able to establish ourselves as a party that had good representation at local government level and Parliamentary level and that we would be build up into a real chance at the Presidency. I knew it was going to take time because we were changing the way politics was done, we were bringing about issue-based politics, no insults and trash talk. But the way the economy started to go, there were higher levels of vulnerability. So we had a change in landscape and I didn’t think that was going to happen. So I had underestimated the impact of this undertaking, I didn’t anticipate the economy was going to slide,” Chipimo said.
“So that was the real challenge there. So was I naive? You need to be, I think, to go into politics. You need to be somewhat idealistic, otherwise you are just cynical, you are doing this purely for the sake of ‘what can I get out of this?’ So that naivety was there but I don’t see naivety as the problem. I see the problem here and this is what helped me come to the conclusion, I had to say to myself ‘I have all this capability that God has given me. Do I want to use the next ten years being ground down in an environment that is not really ready for the kind of ideas that can take this country forward?’”
Meanwhile, Chipimo charged that the PF was practicing silly politics by stopping Hichilema from making donations and helping Zambians.
“This is what I call silly politics. At the end of the day, there are needs there in communities and what you are probably seeing on all sides is an attempt to gain political mileage. When we have really challenging issues that are being confronted by ordinary Zambians, it’s sad that we can’t just unite and say ‘okay fine, if anybody wants to help, let’s find a structured way in which we can help’. But on government side, there is the denial because having the opposition helping out makes them look bad and on the opposition side, there is a need to be able to put a foot forward that suggests that ‘we care more than someone else does’. But at the end of the day, we have only one country, and it just breaks my heart that we can’t somehow work together for the greater good. We are still caught up in our own little selfish domains and thinking that ‘only I can do something’. But that’s not true,” he said.
On the xenophobic attacks going on in South Africa, the former opposition leader warned that government must start addressing concerns from citizens to avoid having similar problems in Zambia.
“Look at what is happening now in South Africa around this thing of xenophobia and judge it in isolation and quite another thing, see it as a broader challenge for the entire African continent. When you have situations of economic marginalisation, economic exclusions, and this is coming to Zambia as well and you don’t have a proper foundation for an education system that should teach people about the history of the collective struggle on the African Continent. In the midst of all this violence in South Africa, there is an underlying cry from the people and it’s that they are deeply frustrated and if we are not careful, a similar thing can happen here in Zambia,” Chipimo warned.
He further called on President Edgar Lungu to learn from his predecessors and understand that as a leader, he must be finding out the truth about what’s happening in the country by himself to avoid being fooled.
“President Lungu should learn from his predecessors that you’ve got to find ways to hear the truth, see the truth. Drive incognito, go round and see the suffering. He himself has relatives who must be experiencing the very same challenges that a lot of Zambians must be experiencing and this is just a free advice that I can give him,” said Chipimo.