If Felix Mutati is clever, he should start harassing all the Chinese and any other contractors who may be owing him some commissions to pay immediately before he is kicked out of government.
We say this because this “Mutati must go” campaign is not new. It is now a well-known State House gimmick used when the President is about to fire a Cabinet minister for no good reason. They use this trick when they don’t only want to stop at firing, but also to politically finish the person. Those who don’t understand what we are talking about should ask former justice minister Wynter Kabimba – how powerful he was in PF and what he has been reduced to today.
When we saw how well organised the “Mutati must go” campaign was, we knew State House was at the center of it. First, the multitude of cadres had no difficulties finding transport from Eastern Province to Lusaka. Then when they arrived in Lusaka, the party secretary general was readily available, eagerly waiting for them like a fly awaits the call of nature. Almost at the same time, tiny groups of PF cadres in Northern Province, North Western and other regions, were posturing with expensively printed banners designed from exactly the same material as those from Eastern Province and Lusaka – what a coincidence!
As if that was not enough evidence to prove that the cadres were internally funded, we heard the President already commenting on the matter and promising to deal with it. Without giving room for investigations or at least an intelligence report on who was challenging his choice of finance minister, the Head of State was also eager to listen to the petitioners and to deal with their demands.
In June when Chishimba Kambwili asked the President to fire Copperbelt minister Bowman Lusambo because he was the “childish MMD boy behind the confusion in the ruling party”, the Head of State took offence with someone undermining his authority and telling him whom to work with in his government and who to fire. But when Mwila and his cadres staged a protest against Mutati, the same day, President Lungu’s reaction was positive: “He is the Minister of Finance and leader of the opposition MMD. He is our strategic partner, but if there are issues, we will handle them and talk, I guess we can talk behind the cameras.” One has to be very dull to fail to read what is going on here.
In July, we had warned the Patriotic Front that the MMD buttocks were too big to share a seat with. We told the PF that the MMD ministers who were serving in government were more experienced, much smarter and widely respected than the militant PF ministers.
This is what we said: “This is a government that is being run by two presidents of two political parties – Edgar Lungu of PF in charge of politics and MMD’s Felix Mutati responsible for the economy. President Lungu and his ministers Stephen Kampyongo, Davies Chama, David Mabumba, Jean Kapata and others are running national politics. They are the militant bunch in control of the much-needed military power, source of money from the energy sector and land – a valuable political commodity. On the other hand, president Mutati and his ministers Margaret Mwanakatwe, Dora Siliya, Lucky Mulusa, Vincent Mwale, Victoria Kalima and others are running the economy. They are in control of the Treasury, Agriculture, National Development and Local Government. These ‘MMD ministers’ are responsible for Zambia’s economic outlook and macroeconomic stability.”
We said that because we realised that President Lungu had surrendered national resources into the hands of the MMD.
What that meant was that for PF ministers to get money from the treasury, they needed approval from Mutati’s MMD. This meant that if the PF wanted to inflate procurement figures when purchasing fuel, the energy minister would need to go and beg Mutati as Minister of Finance to allow the markup. It meant that if Mutati doesn’t want the PF to steal from fuel procurement, fertilizer, road constructions or any other deals, he had the authority to halt such payments.
President Edgar Lungu gave powers to Mutati to decide how his government should spend, how often it should borrow and how much it should waste. He surrendered the treasury to the MMD in a bid to please the minister for helping him win the 2016 elections. The President kind of acted like that stupid man who gives his ATM card to his wife as a sign of love; not knowing it’s actually a sign of mistrust. This is the excellent mistake President Lungu made which has come back to haunt him. If he had given the ATM card to Mutati because he felt he was a better manager of finances, he wouldn’t have the problem he is facing today.
The President forgot that Felix Mutati has always desired to lead this country even during Rupiah Banda’s time. President Lungu forgot that some Zambians actually feel Mutati can make a greater President than him and that surrendering the treasury would enable the minister mobilise his MMD and turn against the PF in 2021. He forgot all that.
Therefore, if PF secretary general Davies Mwila and his cadres are asking Mutati to resign on moral grounds, what are they saying about the morality of the President who appointed him? If they say Mutati is not loyal to the PF, how loyal is President Lungu to the ruling party if he can throw PF founders out and embrace the MMD?
Our view is that there is no disloyalty that the PF is talking about. The issue here is that Mutati is a threat to the presidency. Someone has finally realised that the finance minister can beat the incumbent in an election and keeping him in government was making that reality more and more feasible. Therefore, they want to discard the Minister of Finance like toilet paper after using him to achieve what they wanted.
To Mutati, there is nothing much to say apart from assuring him that he is reaping what he sowed. This is the Felix Mutati who betrayed the opposition and tolled a PF agenda on the Constitution, with his MMD faction. He sold his position on national matters to the PF in exchange for a government job. The Mutati led MMD faction was happy to give PF that 50 per cent plus one vote threshold that prevented an election rerun because they thought the PF would keep their vows until 2021.
Well, this is what happens when the stomach does the thinking. If Mutati is not willing to surrender the MMD presidency to Nevers Mumba, then let him prepare his exit now because he will not make it to 2021. The lesson Mutati must learn here is that there is no honour among thieves.