RAINBOW Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda handled corruption better than President Edgar Lungu because the latter insists on holding onto corruption-accused ministers.
And Kabimba says he finds it difficult to sympathize with people calling for withdrawal of Bill 10 because they decided to ditch platforms that were created for them to air their views.
Speaking when he featured on Live FM’s Live Issues radio programme, Tuesday, Kabimba said the fight against corruption under the PF remained lukewarm due to President Lungu’s reluctance not to dismiss his corruption-accused ministers to allow for unperturbed investigations.
“We have to deal with corruption and fight it very strongly, but that has been the weakness of the PF. The fight against corruption has been lukewarm. According to the public perception, PF has not moved at the pace that the public has expected it to move over corruption. For example, you have ministers that are alleged to be investigated; now, what I know myself from KK’s time is that, if you are being investigated for corruption, you cannot be allowed to stay in office. In fact, Kaunda would fire and I think that was the right thing to do. You know that ministers and other appointed officials by the President serve at a pleasure of the President. So, there is no specific law that says, ‘if a minister is investigated, therefore, he must be fired.’ But KK looked at it from a moral standpoint that, ‘it defeats the purpose of fighting corruption if my minister, who is investigated for corruption or has even been formally arrested cannot continue in office’,” Kabimba said.
“So he relieved them of their duties. He appointed them much later sometimes as governors and whatever. But at least he sent a message to the public of zero tolerance towards corruption. I know that President Lungu has argued that, ‘I can’t fire somebody because they are being investigated.’ That is his stance. But I am giving this comparative scenario between KK and President Lungu now. And if you asked me which one of the two handled issues of corruption better, I would say KK did. And this is what has made the fight against corruption difficult. This is what has made the public take the view that President Lungu is not serious about fighting corruption.”
He wondered how the government planned to run an airline without conducting a feasibility study.
“Even this argument that is coming up now about the national airline is more out of pride than economic sense. It is all very well to want to wear a suit even when you cannot afford it because that satisfies your emotions. But running an airline is an expensive venture. This is an airline that we want to introduce without any feasibility study. There has not been any feasibility study to figure out how this is going to be a success story. Look at other airlines that have made a mark in Africa; Ethiopian Airlines is the best in Africa,” he said.
“If it (Zambia Airways) becomes a joint-venture, maybe, it may have some semblance of success because you know even Kenya Airways that is what it has done. South African Airways, I am sure you have heard or read it is bankrupt, it is broke, it insolvent and the South African economy is 10 times larger than the Zambian economy. So, you are telling me that South Africa can fail where you are going to succeed? And you are exempt from Coronavirus? Let us be serious about issues. The airline industry is competitive and it is not easy to run.”
And Kabimba maintained that the Rainbow Party supported Bill 10.
“Bill Number 10 is a Bill I support. I support it because we participated in this Bill. In other words, we participated in the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) to which all stakeholders were invited without exception or were at liberty to attend. Some of us chose that if we are going to see amendments made to the 2016 Constitution Amendment, number 2, we must participate in this process. So, we wanted to be at the NDF to prove whether or not the PF was doing this in bad faith, some of us attended. Some groups, individuals, civil society organizations decided they would stay away. That is their constitutional right; they have every right to stay away from such a process,” Kabimba said.
“But don’t forget that after NDF, there was another platform that was created after the Bill was drafted. The Speaker of the National Assembly constituted a Parliamentary Select Committee to again receive submissions or additional submissions from those that attended the NDF just in case they had changed their mind and also those that didn’t attend the NDF so there was a second platform created. The people that are talking about withdrawing the Bill today, again, decided to abstain from that platform. So, I really find it difficult to sympathize with them that at this stage they could be calling on the government to withdraw the Bill, it is not fair. It is not a demand that is in the interests of the Zambian people.”
He insisted that opposition members of parliaments’ decision to walk out of Parliament when the Bill was debated was a sign of cowardice.
“Members of parliament ought to realize that they represent, not only their political parties on whose tickets were elected, but they also represent people in their constituencies that do not belong to any political party. So, on a national issue like this one, you ought to look at it with a conscience. Walking out of Parliament, in my view, is a sign of cowardice! You are incapable of debating; you do not have capacity to debate. I would rather sit in a room and debate and run out of breath,” he said.
When asked how the PF had managed the economy, Kabimba said their performance was bad.
“The performance is bad in all honesty, truth be told. This is a runaway economy from the PF. I don’t think they have an idea how to turn it around. Instead of being analytical about it, they are being simplistic about it. I think this also fits into the attitude of us Zambians. When Mrs (Margaret) Mwanakatwe was minister of finance, there was so much outcry that ‘she is a bad minister of finance’ and that she must be relieved so that the economy gets better for whatever reason people put forward. When Mwanakatwe left, the kwacha was at K12 (per dollar), now the kwacha is at K18 almost K20,” said Kabimba.
“We can’t even qualify to have a meeting with the IMF (International Monetary Fund). I am not an IMF fan, but we can’t even qualify to get on an IMF programme, which will just make things worse than they are now. So, it is clear that the government has no idea on how to turn this economy round. We have invested in road infrastructure very well, but some of the roads are not going anywhere. They are going to areas where there is absolutely no economic activity.”