It’s not a long time ago when we described former information minister Chishimba Kambwili as “a good bad man”. In our analysis, we did state that Mr Kambwili or Honourable Doctor Kambwili, as he prefers to be called, was a perfect opposition figure. We observed that since he was removed from his ministerial position and expelled from the ruling party, the Roan member of parliament attracted support from many Zambians because of the fearless manner in which he started naming and shaming corrupt individuals in government.
That’s not all; we went further to state that Mr Kambwili could not make a good Republican President because he was an emotional and vengeful leader. However, that criticism did not sit well with his supporters who felt we were being sadistic. In fact, Mr Kambwili himself called our editor to register his displeasure with us for publishing an article which he felt was in bad taste. Anyway, that’s not the issue. The issue is that shortly after he questioned our judgment of his character, his emotions vindicated us.
“My dear sister Mumbi Phiri, if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones. Don’t go on the radio and start defending yourself ‘no me I was married to a man who was very wealthy that’s why I built that house’ …I used to buy toilet tissue for you and bathing soap for you who is married to a wealthy man, mulekwatako insoni (you should be ashamed), I would go into your house Mumbi, elo nasanga namulepula inyunshi esho mulebomfwa mu toilet elo natila Mumbi, MP inyunshi mu toilet (I would find you have cut pieces of newspapers for use in your toilet then I would say ‘Mumbi, an MP using newspaper in your toilet?’) And then I would go to Shoprite and buy for you,” said Mr Kambwili.
To those who didn’t follow this story, Mr Kambwili was trying to make a point that many people in the ruling party had acquired wealth through corruption. First, we must state that there was absolutely nothing wrong with his observation. In fact, we agree with him that there is corruption in the PF government and the epicenter of that corruption is State House. But look at how Mr Kambwili’s emotions spoiled the important point he was trying to make.
To begin with, we wonder if Mr Kambwili realised before attacking Mumbi that the former Munali member of parliament has had a soft spot for him. Ever since Mr Kambwili started facing his tribulations, we have never recorded a statement from Mumbi attacking Kambwili, which as journalists we found very strange – considering the diarrhea of the mouth that Mumbi herself suffers from. But a quick inquiry within the PF circles brought us a revelation that Mumbi was among those in the ruling party who felt Mr Kambwili’s case needed to be handled a little differently to avoid the prevailing antagonism that his expulsion brought about.
Now, we do appreciate that when he was expelled from the PF, Mr Kambwili vowed to take on the PF, punch for punch. He made it a point to hit back whenever he was attacked by a government or party official. He promised to spill the beans and let the Zambian people know the true colours of the leaders they voted into power. Again, we found nothing wrong with that because that is what is expected in a functioning democracy. But they say a good boxer knows when to punch back and when to duck. Kambwili punched when he should have ducked.
In his defence, Mr Kambwili apologised to his ‘sister’ saying ‘I am sorry, I got carried away in the moment but I have reflected on my statement and I withdraw it’. That is exactly what we meant by stating that Mr Kambwili’s emotions were his greatest weakness. There was no need for Mr Kambwili to humiliate a mother in that manner. Genuine help means giving and forgetting. You cannot go back to the person you bought underwear for, and say “stop running around, you will destroy the kaputula I bought you”.
It is good that Mumbi acted wisely by ducking and not punching back. As a matter of fact, Mumbi did not need an apology from Mr Kambwili because that statement backfired and killed the momentum that the rebel MP was enjoying. This careless statement disappointed us because we want Mr Kambwili to continue hitting the PF and making them sit up. We would like him to continue exposing corruption because a corrupt regime is not different from a dictatorship.
Our only advice to Mr Kambwili is that he should not act on impulse when he gets agitated. Most importantly, as a leader, he should not take pride in reminding the poor what he did for them. There was nothing wrong in Mumbi using newspapers if she couldn’t afford toilet tissue. After all, Kambwili himself used Mumbi’s newspaper on that same day after doing what he went in the toilet for, unless he tells us that he boycotted the newspaper, drove to Shoprite to buy tissue and came back to use it.