BISHOP John Mambo says if President Edgar Lungu goes ahead to constitute a commission of inquiry into the privatization process, he, as a former board member of the Zambia Privatization Agency (ZPA), is ready to also be investigated.
And Bishop Mambo says there is a need to set a proper political level playing field before the next general election.
In an interview, Bishop Mambo, who is Chikondi Foundation executive director, however said constituting a commission of inquiry would be a waste of public resources because all the records were there.
“This issue where the government is insisting that they need a commission of inquiry into privatization of companies which was done 30 years ago, it is totally unacceptable that those entrusted by citizens to look after the welfare of the nation have now abandoned this noble calling. Choosing to prosecute and humiliate fellow citizens for holding divergent views. The people of Zambia cannot and will never be fooled by our leaders who claim to be pursuing the privatization matter in the national interest. To me, there is no national interest, whatever, in the current calls for investigation in the privatization process which happened some 30 years ago. Probably, some colleagues might want to hear that I served in the Zambia Privatization Agency towards the end. I was a member, and it is sad that Zambians will easily change positions,” Bishop Mambo said.
He said previous commissions of inquiry had proved to be academic exercises as no action had been taken even on any of their recommendations.
“So, do we have that money for a commission of inquiry? We have had so many commissions of inquiry. This is another academic exercise because we are going to appoint our good friends into that commission of inquiry and they will draw allowances and so on but will come up with nothing. Not long ago, we had a commission of inquiry into the voting pattern and they came up with recommendations and people are still roaming in the streets. Currently, the country is bleeding…I was a member of the Zambia Privatization Agency ratified by parliament. They can check the records. So, let them take me to court also if they want,” Bishop Mambo said.
“If you remember that time, the MMD Government was in power and among those that were calling for this inquiry were in government. Do we have money to waste on something which is very straight forward? We have people who chaired the ZPA board and some of them were permanent secretaries. For example, Honourable Musokotwane was PS for Finance. We had people like Abel Mkandawire who was at one time chairman and the director then Chipwende is still alive. And there are a number of us. Of course, I was towards the end as a member, but ratified by parliament. I remember the question that I was asked by the select committee to say ‘you Mambo, if you are appointed into ZPA, what value are you going to add?’ and I said there will be one thing, ‘if I see that the process is not clean, which as far as I am concerned was, I will publicly denounce it and resign.’ Now, why don’t you ask how Zambia Commercial Bank given to private hands because it was among the process? You are merely looking at certain companies because it is connected to the name. Let us look at the entire process.”
He urged the government to prioritize issues that were affecting the nation, adding that there was a need to set a political level playing field before next year’s general election.
“Let’s put the first things first as a priority. The country is bleeding and in terms of leveling the field, there is a problem. We need to address all these things before the coming of elections next year and remove the current dictatorial tendency. We are a democracy but things are not right. It is annoying to see people discussing things that they don’t know. The ministers of MMD are there. Those who were members of the ZPA are there and I was one of them. This thing must not bring about money being wasted and so on because records are there. Let them ask us and we shall tell them. Let’s talk about issues of bread and butter. The economy, the schools have opened and many people have not managed because they don’t have money to take their children to school,” Bishop Mambo said.
He further said the church had failed to counsel political leaders.
“And the church is very disappointing because most of these ministers are members of these churches. Do they counsel them? Is it because of the brown envelope? No, I would rather drink my black coffee without sugar than being corrupt in the name of money. We are in a democracy today and you shouldn’t be seen standing with UPND or MMD or PF. So, how am I going to know them? In the church, I should be open to all of you, in the village, I should receive everybody regardless of party and all that. But in Zambia, you must always associate with the ruling party. There is no democracy in such,” Bishop Mambo added.
And the Bishop said Zambia’s economy was hurting and urged the government to address the needs of the people first.
“The sad part is that we are not looking at the way the economy is failing today. Today, the dollar is trading at K20 and the economy is really hurting. And people can’t afford to go into a by-election and on the last day of the election, you get the DMMU to go and distribute mealie meal into that area. That is sad. And if we are going like this in 2021, we are not going to see the change that we are crying for,” said Bishop Mambo.
“Now, in Zambia, it has become a sin to become rich…The same people who are calling for others to be probed, for fear of them losing power, they are forcing Bill 10 on people so that they can remain in power. The same people are resisting the calls for a lifestyle audit which one of my brothers, former attorney general Musa Mwenye, has said ‘start with me.’ But they are refusing. The same President Edgar Lungu cannot account for a number of things,” said Bishop Mambo. “We have never asked ourselves as to who benefitted from the Zambia Malawi maize scandal. How was US $17 million worth of a contract awarded to a company (HoneyBee) which was not eligible? So, we need to move this country forward and we can move it together. Where we have reached now, whether in opposition or in government, we need to work together.”