ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says it is time for President Edgar Lungu to bid farewell to Zambians because he has served his two terms.
And Archbishop Mpundu says the PF must not brag that they are already celebrating the 2021 election victory, warning that the party would be shocked because the mood in the country was “enough is enough!”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu says the political establishment is filled with little men who are afraid of the formation of OCIDA (Our-Civic-Duty Association).
In an interview, Archbishop Mpundu insisted that the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 was illegitimate, as it sought to extend President Lungu’s stay in office.
He stressed that time had come for President Lungu to bid farewell to Zambians because he had already served his stipulated two terms.
“Why are they insisting on Bill 10? I remember, in your (News Diggers!) paper where Vice-President, her ladyship, Inonge Wina was saying, ‘we will stop cadres from harassing people, who are having meetings if you support Bill 10.’ What I understand is that, it is a euphemism for a third term. We are now going into elections and the political party in power is campaigning, which is illegal! Bill 10 is designed to get rid of the rights of citizens that is enshrined in the Constitution that says, ‘If somebody has served this country twice as President, he has been sworn in twice, he cannot go for a third term.’ Now, they want to put it in such a way that this does not sound as a third term,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
“The government should come out in the open and tell us that this is Bill (10) is a third term and once this is done, there will be peace. But people have seen through it and they are not happy about it. We commend the Catholic Bishops for saying this Bill is retrogressive. My predecessor, Merdado Mazombwe, told Mr (Fredrick) Chiluba that ‘the time for him to go had come.’ I am sure they are going to say it now. President Lungu has served, go away! But they want to change that to accommodate a third term, it is wrong! And they are bringing nice things saying, ‘this time, we are going for 50/50 representation in Parliament and the disabled…’ This is only cosmetic. What have they done all this time? They have not done anything for them. Time has come to call a spade a spade. He should simply say, ‘thank you so much people. I have served you for two terms. I am going’. Let us not beat about the bush. Bill 10 has no legitimacy. This is a sacred document. We must respect it. Do we want a small party to change the Constitution? This is a shame! Let us grow up, politically!”
Archbishop Mpundu said the PF government ought to be ashamed for not giving opportunities to the opposition to freely mobilise their members.
“The PF started campaigning, even before COVID-19, and now they are using it to prevent others from campaigning, why? They should feel ashamed that they don’t give equal opportunities to the opposition. They think I have started OCIDA (Our-Civic-Duty Association)? I am just a simple member. It is just another organisation, they are afraid of their own shadows. The political establishment is filled with little men, very frightened!” he observed.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu cautioned the ruling party not to celebrate their 2021 election victory yet because they would be shocked.
“The PF cannot celebrate victory right now. They will be shocked, they will be very surprised. The mood out there is ‘enough is enough!’ They shouldn’t celebrate yet. President Lungu has not even been nominated yet. Let them celebrate nothing. What makes a president have a good reputation is the performance of his government. Where are we from the economic point of view? We are nowhere, so how can he be popular? The performance is coming from the people he has chosen to surround himself with. Here, we have the 48 houses, ambulances, (Ronald) Chitotela and now it is (Chitalu) Chilufya; he chose all these people so how can he be popular with thugs around him? There will be a reaction in this country. People have only so much tolerance,” he cautioned.
He also lamented that governance had terribly been marred by the ruling party.
“What happened in the (Dr Kenneth) Kaunda regime? He was powerful and now Bill 10 wants to make President Lungu an emperor in everything. He wants to be an elephant trampling over everybody. Governance has terribly been marred by this regime just like the previous ones, but they are having their own brand. This makes me feel bad. This is not what our forefathers fought for. We want a listening government. There is discrimination. If we have good leadership, we will again become one. The poverty levels are high! So many people are rich, so many people are poor. Right now, I am not proud to be a Zambian. I cannot pretend. We should be above tribalism, people should be judged by their character,” Archbishop Mpundu explained.
And Archbishop Mpundu observed that what happened to President Lungu in Monze last week where local residents resoundingly booed him was “tit for tat.”
“What happened to Hakainde Hichilema in Shiwangandu? He was nearly manhandled, he was not given a chance, he was not given police protection and this is on tribal basis. Now, the President goes to Monze and he wants to be treated like a king when he is not according to his opponents the exact thing that he would want? So, this is ‘tit for tat.’ I have been around for quite some time. Political violence was brought in by UNIP so from that time, there has never been peace. This political violence is carried by cadres, these are paid thugs, they are crooks when they are supposed to be behind bars! And now, the government is using them in order to coerce their political opponents in a corner,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
Archbishop Mpundu cautioned the PF government to halt the behaviour of their cadres, particularly in view of their tendency to besiege public buildings, like court premises.
“The opposition is not allowed to use public media. This is nonsense, rubbish! We have to be democratic and this means being tolerant to one other. Here, we know how to coerce the political opponents into submission. That is not true democracy, this is a shame to this country. These political cadres in PF are not invisible; one day, they will meet their match, they will be pounded, and people will be killed. We are warning these people in government to stop it because they will be responsible for what will happen. People are fed up with hypocrisy,” he complained.
He apologised to the youth for not doing enough to protect their future, but urged them to take interest in the affairs of the country.
“Excuse me young people, I am apologising to you, as a parent, as a senior citizen we have not done enough to protect you. Your future has been ruined! I wish I would have done more by talking and telling the government no matter they brand me. Tomorrow, you will hear that, ‘Telesphore wants to be president, what for?’ I hate partisan politics, but I am a politician. I am interested in how this country is being run. A philosopher Plato once said: ‘if you are not interested in the affairs of the country, how you are being ruled, you will run the risk that one day, you will wake up to find you are being ruled by fools!’ Be interested in the affairs of your own country, otherwise, you will find that the people who are ruling you are far below average intelligence,” he said.
Archbishop Mpundu also wondered why President Lungu failed to fire corruption-accused Ministers.
“What happens in this country, someone has allegedly been accused of doing something and that someone stays in government instead of withdrawing to let the investigations be done. He/she still remains in government so that they can destroy records, threaten the organs of people. It’s not right! Wherever you go, if you are accused of having allegedly done something, on moral grounds, you step aside. But if you don’t do it on moral grounds, you are lying to yourself and the President has the right to say, ‘step aside, when investigations are done, you can come back’,” said Archbishop Mpundu.
“Investigating organs are supposed to be given free rein. How are they supposed to investigate the President if they say, ‘he is involved in Mukula transportation?’ We just hear that. Allegations must be investigated. But no, Chilufya and Chitotela are still there. How can I be proved guilty if I am still holding that same office I have abused? We have qualified investigative organs that are not given a chance! If you give them free rein, they will do a good job. The police are politicised instead of serving the nation, they serve the government.”