ALLIANCE for Community Action director Laura Miti threats on News Diggers arising from its investigative journalism work are unfortunate.
And Miti says says if she was asked to pick between PF presidential candidate Edgar Lungu and his UPND counterpart Hakainde Hichilema, she would go for the latter.
Meanwhile, Lusaka Lawyer Joseph Chirwa says the opposition should be happy that President Lungu will be standing on the PF ticket since they say he is unpopular.
Speaking when the duo featured on a Capital FM radio program, Monday, Miti urged Honeybee not to shoot the messenger.
“The threats on Diggers are very unfortunate. You don’t shoot the messenger. We citizens are very grateful to Diggers and their insistence on following up this case. Remember when the Honeybee first came up, it sounded like nkani yamu kachasu (a hoax) and very few people followed it up but because they kept at it. They acted as a whistleblower and over time, we found out one of the most shocking scandals of the country. The thing with threatening the media is that it is one of the most destructive things but makes very little sense going forward. Over time a media that is allowed to operate freely is good for everyone,” said Miti.
And Miti said the country was not safe under President Lungu and she would be more comfortable if the ruling party settled for Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Vincent Mwale as their presidential candidate this August.
“My problem as a citizen is that I would like a candidate in the two leading parties who I think if either of them have won, I would be comfortable. I would love a situation in which the person standing in PF and the person standing in UPND, because one of these will be presidents, there is no question, is one I should be comfortable with, I might choose the opposition candidate but if the PF candidate wins, I am very sure my country is safe. The problem is I don’t think my country will be safe under President Lungu,” Miti said.
“If for example Vincent Mwale stood in PF, I wouldn’t vote for him, I think I will be comfortable. We as citizens are not worried about who is in power, it is what they do. The problem now is you are saying it is this opposition member or PF insists on giving you a poisonous candidate. As an ordinary citizen, we must never get hang up on who will be in power. If there is a better candidate in PF who I think would run the country, I am happy because my problem with Edgar Lungu is what he has done to the country.”
Miti said there was no justifiable reason why President Lungu should stand.
“The extent to which this administration has destroyed the country, the steps backwards if you look at where we were in 2011 when PF came in power and you look objectively 10 years later on, every fundamental indicator, we have gone backwards. So therefore, there is no reason for PF to stay in power. I don’t think we have ever had a government as violent as this one so you have got to understand when you say it happened before, it happened before but you wouldn’t get shot,” she said.
“So right now, you have a Minister of Home Affairs who for three years has the highest budget increase, it went to law and order and the money was used to buy all these weapons which are being used to intimidate citizens and to try and threaten them and put this cloud of fear over them. That said, I can categorically say that if President Lungu is the President in September 2021, we are in trouble. There is no justifiable reason why President Lungu would want to stand. Forget being asked to stop, forget the question of citizens uprising, you do not want uprising. We were lucky how 1991 ended as well as 2001 when we prevented Chiluba from going for a third term. It was very innovative.”
Miti said President Lungu had been ‘absent’ for too long.
“The thing is the cry for uprising does not usually take countries forward. The end of that in the long term can be very devastating and sometimes countries completely fall apart. The issue is that for us to ask the PF to think among themselves why President Lungu will have another term, just tell us why. For what? Because he is just not there. Think of it, in this Covid he has started sending us longer statements which you have to read and find out what are you saying about covid? What are you saying about Honeybee? He is just absent. Our education system has gone backwards, the level of poverty, the price, even politically cadres of violence, the debt, he has been President for six to seven years what has he done? Sometimes you wonder whether it is him alone or it is the whole Cabinet,” Miti said.
“But you get the sense that there should be people in this whole Cabinet who if given a chance to carry out their work, they would but they heard the person at the top seems to absolutely have no idea for the country. The best thing for Zambia would be President Edgar Lungu not to stand for another term simply because he has absolutely failed to run the county…They are going to a congress surely within the entire PF, there is no nobody who is half better? Mwazifunsako chabe kuti (you must ask yourselves to say) in this whole Zambia, is this the person who can take us out of this debt trap? Is this the person who can deal with the crisis in education? There has never been a worse time to be a Zambian young person than now. Because right now if you are young you either have no job or you can’t get into school, or you need connections.”
Meanwhile, Chirwa said the opposition celebrating that President Lungu is PF’s presidential candidate since they deem him unpopular.
“It will be asking for too much of any President, even Kenneth Kaunda to go at the bottom and see to it that every Zambian gets a job. I avoid the talk of an uprising in the sense that we are a constitutional democracy and there is a way in which we remove the President of a government. And in Zambia, you only remove a President using constitutional means and the first constitutional means of removing that President is to vote him out when we have a general election which is in August. Secondly, Parliament where we can remove a president by impeaching those are the only means that a President can be impeached in the country,” said Chirwa.
“I think we should appreciate the peace that we have always had as Zambians and we shouldn’t overstretch our thoughts to go beyond these means on which a President can be removed. I would say President Lungu is both lucky and unlucky in the sense that he was lucky in the way he assumed power because it was like it was given to him in the party. He is unlucky…when you are judging a government, let us look at all the parameters of judging a government, economic, social, political. I wouldn’t delve so much why he is confident but I delve myself into why if he is so much as unpopular as people want to put it, why would the opposition be jittery to say he shouldn’t stand? Because logic demands that if President Lungu is unpopular, in the sense that he has failed in all the parameters, then he is the easiest candidate for you to defeat. Therefore you should be rooting to say ‘let us have the unpopular man to stand’.”