CHIRUNDU UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima says Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela should already consider himself out of politics if his condition for contesting next year’s election is President Edgar Lungu’s availability for the polls.

When he featured on Muvi TV’s The Assignment programme, Sunday, Chitotela, who is also Pambashe PF member of parliament, announced that he would not be available for next year’s general election if President Lungu would not be the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

But commenting on Chitotela’s pronouncement in an interview, Syakalima advised Chitotela to consider himself already out of politics saying the law did not allow President Lungu to go for a third term.

“In that case, then, Chitotela is out of politics already because Lungu, not only will he be unavailable to stand next year, but the law doesn’t permit him in the first place to go for another term of office. So, there’s no way someone can say, ‘if the President is not available’, available for what? We have a law in this country, which does not permit anybody to go for a third term. So Chitotela is already out of politics if that is what he’s thinking about because no one will force Lungu to go for a third term when the Constitution doesn’t allow him. And all this thing of eulogizing him, what has Lungu done apart from taking us into all these huge economic doldrums?” Syakalima asked.

“He’s leading the most corrupt government ever seen, south of the equator! In fact, basically, these characters in PF are just thieves! How could you imagine that people could buy those wheelbarrows (fire tenders) at US $1 million each? Isn’t that theft? It’s plain thieving! All these infrastructure projects they have been talking about have been done at exaggerated prices. Look at our poverty levels, look at your kwacha where it is today, and they want to hide in COVID-19? We were already down, economically, even before this COVID-19 came. Look at the levels of poverty…how they have escalated in our country, so even if Lungu was going for a second term, he was not going to win anyway because there is anger in the people. So, this issue of saying, ‘if he’s not available’ really, it is neither here nor there because the man (President Lungu) will not be there anyway because the law doesn’t permit him.”

Syakalima urged Zambians to stop President Lungu from having a third term the same way they stopped late president Fredrick Chiluba.

“This must sink in many of these characters in PF and many unsuspecting Zambians because now they are saying, ‘Lungu won’t win’, but how can you win or lose when you can’t stand in the first place? But I think we are a people to blame as well because we have continued saying, ‘Lungu will win, Lungu will lose’, no! In the first place, the Constitution doesn’t allow him to stand. So, no one should be talking about Lungu going into another term anymore, he must be stopped the same way Chiluba was stopped! And you cannot just dare people just like, I have always said, oppressed people cannot live oppressed forever, their yearned freedom eventually ensues. Look at the way they are now attacking radio stations and they think that the radio stations have got no voice? You will see what will happen; people have now seen that we have criminals in this country governing us. And Lungu cannot even take the stance, which Mwanawasa took, he’s leaving Dora Siliya to start apologizing for the violence that is going on, but he’s the one who is supposed to put a stop to this,” Syakalima said.

He also observed that President Lungu was not serious about fighting corruption.

“Coming back to Chitotela, people can become suspicious. Look at how they treated Emerine Kabanshi, her issue was just an allegation, but she was sacked! Now, you check how these double-standards are, people can actually be suspicious to say, ‘why are some being shielded and others are not being shielded?’ It’s plain. You can see, it is explaining itself. So, when you look at what Lungu says and what he does, does it match? It doesn’t match! The man just says things because they have to be said anyway, but he does completely different things. He says, ‘I will fight corruption’, but corruption is just around you. He surrounds himself with corruption, corruption stares in his eyes. So, one day, if people accuse him of corruption as well, what will he say? If you condemn something, show it just like Mwanawasa did. But this one just pronounces ‘no violence’ without action, and this unacceptable,” Syakalima said.

Meanwhile, Syakalima urged government officials to start preparing for their exit.

“When you are in government, the next thing you have to know is that you will get out. Just like when you go to the toilet, you can never be a permanent resident of the toilet, you must get out. That is what it means even for government, when you are government, the next thing is to get out and these (PF) guys are out. Whether they like it or not, they are gone! They should now just start preparing their minds on how to exit,” said Syakalima.