LUSAKA Province PF chairman Paul Moonga says deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri is not his boss and she should stay in her lane when he stands up to protect the office of the President by stating that some Constitutional Court judges and some opposition lawyers are trying to collude in a bribery scheme to disqualify president Edgar Lungu from contesting the August elections.
And Moonga says his office doubts that Mumbi Phiri is a PF member because she has been going against the party position in the recent past.
On Monday, Phiri was quoted in by ZNBC distancing the party from the remarks made by Moonga that the party had information that the opposition were planning to bribe judges to disqualify President Edgar Lungu, saying the PF leadership did not support the statement made by the Lusaka Province boss, adding that the PF would not allow any attacks on the judiciary.
“The Patriotic Front believes in the sanity of the separation of power and therefore does not believe in disrespecting or issuing statements that have the potential to undermine the existence of institutions that holds and supports good governance in the country. As a party in power we shall not allow any attacks on the judiciary or attacks that have the potential to promote anarchy and denounce constitutionalism in our country. We wish to guide our party structures to seek guidance on matters that may have a negative bearing on institutions of governance,” Phiri was quoted as saying.
But responding to Phiri, in an interview, Moonga said he did need to seek permission from the deputy secretary general of the party because he only reports to the President and secretary general Davies Mwila, both of whom have not had problems with his remarks.
When asked if he was considering apologising for his statement after Phiri distanced the party from his remarks, Moonga said Phiri was not his boss.
“To apologise to who? Mumbi Phiri? Do I report to her office? Is she my boss? If Mumbi Phiri got my statement very well, as she claims to be my senior, she should have called me to understand, which I understand myself. I am running an office, she is not running an office, she is under supervision of the SG. I am running a province and we have our own information which is correct information. There is a consortium of lawyers together with the opposition with the sole purpose, with millions of Dollars to ensure that once before nominations on the 13th, they will run to the Constitution Court where they will say ‘no Lungu does not qualify to stand’. I have that information, she has no information because she is under the office of Secretary General. That information we have, and we are alive as the province to the situation in Malawi where the Constitution Court in Malawi overturned the elections when the Constitution says it is simple majority,” Moonga said.
“Madam Phiri was saying this has no blessing from the party, it is unfortunate. I don’t need permission from her. Because I don’t report to her office. I am saying I don’t report to her office. If she wanted to consult me, she should have called me ‘in what context did you say this information? What information do you have?’. It is her who is wrong as a senior person who would have called me ‘honourable provincial chairman, I have seen the message, in what context do you have this? Where is the evidence?’, she should have asked me. And I won’t give her the evidence because the evidence is confidential, it is a very serious matter. Anybody who stirs the party would have asked me. The Secretary General, my boss honourable Davies Mwila, I know him how he operates he would have called me. She Phiri is on record denying one of our members Chris Chinda in Munali that he is not our member. The same deputy SG. Let her keep her lane, let her leave my lane. Don’t delete that message, let her live in her lane, let her mind her business. I am protecting the office of the President, I don’t protect her office. I protect the office of the Secretary General honourable Davies Mwila. All of us are subordinates to honourable Mwila.”
He insisted that it was indiscipline for Phiri to go the press to talk about a fellow member of the party without consulting.
Moonga charged that Phiri’s conduct suggested that she was among the consortium of stakeholders who wanted to disqualify President Lungu.
“We are members of the central committee. I am not just provincial chairman, I am above provincial chairman, I am a member of the central committee. I am carrying two positions. If she knew that she is the supervisor, she should have called me and sat down at my office ‘chairman what about this?’. Why go to the press to talk about your fellow member of the party. That is total indiscipline being a senior person. Only the SG and the President can do that, nobody [else]. Nobody can go to the press and try to undermine my office, to demean me, only two. The rest we are fellow workers. That must be understood, I only have one supervisor, the SG and the President not Mumbi Phiri,” Moonga said.
“If the SG told Mumbi Phiri to go [and do that] which I don’t think he did. She is on record to have denied our faithful member in Munali Chris Chinda that he is UPND and he is not our member. Can you imagine the deputy secretary general denying a very senior member of the party. He may not have a position but he is a member of the party. He is one of the members who has been applying time and again as MP, 2016 he applied, he was among the top three. Our deputy SG says ‘no Chris Chinda is not our member, he is UPND’, what a shame! Let her keep her lane. Write it like that so that it should pain her. I am defending the President, maybe we don’t know where she belongs, maybe she is part of the consortium of the lawyers? Why is she so jittery? Where does she belong? Is she part of us? I doubt! Is our deputy SG PF?”
Moonga said he had faith that the Constitution Court would not rule against the eligibility of President Lungu.
“I know that our Judiciary in Zambia is above board, but we cannot trust anybody. The sole purpose of the opposition now is to see which judge can they buy to overturn what the Constitution says. The Constitution is very clear that a President of Zambia cannot be called a former President if you have not served for three years. You don’t even qualify for gratuity. My understanding is that the opposition are so scared of our President. They know too well that once his name is on the ballot they can’t win an election. Hence, all the energy is focused on how they can buy the judges to overturn the Constitution of Zambia which is very straight forward. I have faith in the Judiciary, they already made a ruling in the same Constitution Court, it is only a dog which can go and eat its vomit. I doubt that those judges can go and overturn what they have already said. We know that 18 lawyers both local and international lawyers, they have been put together, they have already filed a petition dated 13th May which they will take to court,” said Moonga.
“What I am saying is candid, the opposition are jittery. My warning to the judiciary is that please you are above board, don’t look at these charlatans, these demagogues whose main agenda is simply to block a candidate who is eligible to stand. Zambian journalists time and again you should be able to tell the people ‘you are lying the Constitution is saying abcd, he qualifies’. The judiciary can sometimes be porous but I don’t think our judiciary is as porous as the Malawian one, and I have no apologies to make to the Malawian Judiciary. I stand what I said. If the Judiciary in Malawi was bought, they are trying to use the same scenario, through millions of Dollars put together, which judges can you buy? You won’t buy them, they have refused. I know they have approached some judges but they have refused. We are monitoring with my system. As provincial chairman I also have systems to monitor things.”