SPECIAL Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe says President Edgar Lungu did not threaten to arrest Hakainde Hichilema, but said he would set up a commission of inquiry into privatisation.
And Chipampe says diplomats who are serving in Zambia should not comment on the internal affairs.
Chipampe was commenting on US Embassy in Zambia interim Chargé d’Affaires David Young’s remarks that President Lungu’s threats that Hichilema would be arrested once he’s re-elected were not helpful during campaigns.
He said in an interview that diplomats should avoid commenting on internal affairs as the election was about Zambians.
“I think for me what I can say and of course speaking on behalf of the President [is] that you see, this election is about Zambians. Let it remain so! This election is not about America, or Britain or any other country, it is about Zambians. People should spend more time listening to what the Zambian candidates who are standing are promising. This emphasis on listening to foreign diplomats by journalists and even Zambian people is what is not helping, because it marks interference in internal affairs,” Chipampe said.
“Just like our diplomats who are stationed in various countries across the world don’t comment on internal affairs of the countries they are operating from, diplomats who are serving in Zambia should also not comment on internal affairs of Zambians. They should let Zambians themselves decide. In fact, they are the ones who should let Zambians decide and not incessantly commenting on Zambian issues.”
Chipampe said President Lungu had not threatened to arrest any political leader.
“The President of the Republic of Zambia has not threatened to arrest anybody. What the President has said is that he is going to set a commission of inquiry into the privatisation of assets, to investigate. If the President says he is going to set a commission of inquiry into the privatisation of assets in the 90s and so forth, does that amount to arresting anybody? I think it is unfair to quote the President out of context,” he said.
“If that diplomat was not sure about what the President meant, he should have made an effort to communicate to the President. After all, the President has been giving him a lot of time and space whenever he wanted to inquire about anything. So why this time go to the media and hold a briefing and start attacking the President in that manner? So, he should just let Zambians decide, he should not get involved in the affairs of Zambians.”
And Chipampe reiterated the need for the country to maintain peace during and after Thursday’s elections.
“The message by the President to the Zambians is to maintain our peace. I think he has been emphasizing this during some of his engagements with the public. Even yesterday he talked about this and said that if we lose our peace, then we will lose the advantage we have, especially in the Southern region as a hub of peace. We are the ones who helped our neighbouring countries gain independence. We could only do that because we ourselves had peace. So, the President is saying if we want investment to flow in our country, if we want tourists to come to our country, we need to have peace,” said Chipampe.
“Most of the time the people who are involved in violence are not the leaders of these political parties. Normally it’s the ordinary members who are fighting. So, they should learn from their leaders that it is not worth being physical just because of trying to put your man in office. So, we need this peace because all these countries especially now that economies are struggling all over the world, there is a lot of competition in terms of investment, in terms of tourists, so there is need for competition. That competition can only be achieved if we are peaceful as a country. So, the President is emphasizing peace and he is confident that Zambians will do what they know best and that is maintaining peace before, during and after the elections.”