FORUM for Democracy and Development (FDD) leader Edith Nawakwi says Zambian male politicians are petty and they enjoy debating “below the belt”.
And Nawakwi says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo should not drag her husband into political discussions because he is not a politician.
Meanwhile, Nawakwi says she’s uncomfortable being singled out to answer questions on privatisation because there were others who served as finance minister before and after her.
Speaking when she featured on the ZNBC TV Sunday Interview programme, Nawakwi said her male counterparts had failed to match-up to an intellectually gifted woman like herself.
“We still have this problem in our country where if a woman stands up for what they believe in, I think you have seen what has happened this week. Everybody rushes to below the belt. Our men in this country are not used to discussing issues above the belt. Whenever you defeat them in a logical argument, the only thing they can think about is pulling you down. As someone from Kenya said that ‘you want to discuss ideas using your brains.’ But our men in this country are so petty. They think that they are little gods of reason. Whenever you defeat them in an argument, they call you angry, irrational, harboring a garage, they tell you that your marriage is not in order as if their marriages are in order. They characterize you as a female figure who shouldn’t be looked up to. But for me, I see that as a failure of them not being able to match-up with people like me who is intellectually gifted. So, that’s what keeps me on,” Nawakwi said.
And Nawakwy asked Nkombo and Hichilema to leave her husband out of politics.
“So, when someone attacks me the way Gary Nkombo and Hakainde [Hichilema] attacked me, I was on air at Hot FM [and] I never mentioned the name of my sister Mrs Hichilema because she is not in the arena. But from nowhere, they were drawing my husband into the debate. He is not a politician. No mother wants to be in the arena and wants to be told like this little boy (Chella Tukuta) has said that I am a prostitute. I am not a prostitute. And this is an attempt to protect a male candidate,” Nawakwi lamented.
Nawakwi said those who hold different political views should engage her on a political platform.
“They should engage me on a political platform and on a fact. If you see a number of men who have come to the defense of my opponents, you just sit back and bemuse yourself to say, doesn’t this person that they are defending have a mouth to defend himself? Some of them who have been calling me directly to abuse me, I asked them to say, doesn’t this gentleman have a mouth to defend himself? Equally, I can defend myself. He started a story that I was slumbering and I was responding to that. And I asked very pertinent questions. At what level did he become a shareholder of Southern Sun and take up the leadership? It’s a simple, straight forward and intellectual question,” Nawakwi said.
Meanwhile, asked if she was asleep during the time of privatization, Nawakwi said she was uncomfortable with being singled out because there were other Finance Ministers who served before and after her.
“You need to understand that I served [as minister] for 11 months from 1997 to 1998 and that’s the period that I am accountable to as far as privatization is concerned. Why didn’t he mention my brother Dr Katele Kalumba? Why didn’t he mention Dr Magande? All these are ministers who came after me. Why pick me alone? In fact, Mr [Alexander] Chikwanda was not even a minister of Finance, he was advisor to the president. So, he should have mentioned all the ministers. So, after that video of him went viral, a lot of people were calling me and I felt like I had a duty to respond. And I was responding to a number of activities that I felt that I was responsible for. And that is why I was saying that I was responsible for Lima Bank, I was responsible for signing off a project which had been advertised prior to my being Minister and that was Intercontinental Hotel in Livingstone. And those were the two projects that I wanted to answer in relation to Mr Hakainde because I dealt with him across the table,” she said.
She also insisted that Hichilema lured government into selecting a bidder to buy Intercontinental Hotel, which is now Southern Sun.
“There has been a lot said. And as far as the Southern Sun is concerned, I asked him a pertinent question. When the bids were opened, I took a deliberate step to call Hakainde aside and said to him ‘musa (my friend), is this the best bid? The value is US $26 million, why didn’t you take the one for US $20 million, why didn’t you take the one for US $9.5 million?’ There were a number of offers there. His answer was very specific and even a dull person could have understood it. His argument was that; ‘minister, these other people just want the keys for Intercontinental Hotel, they walk in there, clean it up and change the carpets, change the pots and start operating it as is. However, this bid which I am giving to you, lower as it is, is the best bid. We are going to get 250 rooms and there is a consequential investment of US $15 million,” Nawakwi said.
“Now, at the time, the economy of Livingstone was dead, if you sell Intercontinental and someone takes the keys and walks in and cleans the pots and starts to run it as Intercontinental, who would you rather take? You will take the one who is going to create some employment and build 250 rooms, to bring in US $50 million, and furnish it. The other issue that I put across I said ‘colleagues, I want you to create a trust for the people around Livingstone.’ I never said that these shares be put in individual names. Now, to find that the chairperson of the negotiations becomes also the shareholder is what has brought us to this stage. He hasn’t been open enough to say that some of the shareholders in the transaction were residing at Plot 14/ 3A Sable Road but who was residing there? It’s himself. The price was low but the investment attached to it was what convinced the government to say that we were on the right path. If he had declared interest, then ZPPA would have put another negotiator there. Normally in Zambia we think that politicians are the most endemically corrupt people but I think that governance should extend to the private sector.”
Nawakwi also said people must understand the changes made at the Central Bank because the position of Bank of Zambia (BoZ) Governor was not a job in perpetuity for Dr Denny Kalyalya.
“The President of the Republic of Zambia appoints who he wants at his pleasure. Everyone who is appointed by the president serves at their pleasure. And at a certain time, these jobs end. Whether you serve there for 20 years but these jobs end. I know Dr Kalyalya personally. I know his professional acumen. Maybe people don’t understand that while he has served in the West, he has come back to serve here. He is also a farmer. And he has his professionalism which he can’t serve the country in other capacities. It’s not like the Bank of Zambia job was a job in perpetuity. That’s why it was an appointment. And the appointment of Mr [Christopher] Mvunga is purely at the pleasure of the president,” said Nawakwi.
“The new governor should focus on the fact that we cannot develop Zambia by running a monetary policy which only looks at the money side. We need monetary policies that go in tandem with our fiscal policy. We have been taught by this pandemic that depending on the outside will not save us. At this point in time I think we need to take a step back and say ‘has the monetary policy which we have pursued for the past 30 years saved us? We need monetary policy which spurs development. There is no one who is going to borrow money at 30 per cent in this kind of economy. We needed money to stimulate investment. And there was an attempt by the president to release some liquidity into the market (K10 billion). But the question that must be asked is ‘has this money gone to where it was needed? But the Central Bank has taken this money and cautioned the commercial banks.”