A picture tells a thousand words, they say. And this was evident last week when President Edgar Lungu’s political advisor Kaizer Zulu was back in the news. Unlike in previous circumstances where Mr Zulu was involved in violence, this time he was a peaceful man. He was not beating up girls either, but rather he was enjoying quality time with a female workmate on some private jet.
It was a thought provoking photograph of the presidential advisor and State House Permanent Secretary madam Christah Kalulu sharing champagne. They looked blissfully relaxed as they gazed at one of their communicating devices, with half-filled wine glasses in their hands.
We found this photograph very interesting for the same reasons that the people who were circulating it had. So we decided to use it on the front page of our Friday edition of the News Diggers! ePaper.
FORTUNATELY, we were given some wrong information accompanying this picture. We indicated that the couple was flying to Zimbabwe, along with President Lungu to attend the inauguration of that country’s newly appointed Head of State.
Immediately we released our publication to the public, the Patriotic Front swung in, telling us that we got our facts wrong. We promised to ‘correct the misinformation’ but something was amiss.
According to PF media director Sunday Chanda, the picture was taken in 2015 during election campaigns. He added that the State House Permanent Secretary did not actually travel to Harare on Friday.
We would like to argue with Mr Chanda, but first; in our view, it really doesn’t matter what date the picture was taken. What is significant is the massage that it sends. In fact, one would argue that this particular photograph told no thousand words. Instead, it was screaming just one short word, with a sharp adjective perhaps.
It is a well-known secret that those who travel with President Lungu eat gourmet food, drink exotic beverages and wear tailor-made designer cloths. President Lungu’s advisors drive top of the range competitive luxury wheels and sleep in several storey mansions because they are too high up in society to live on the ground. They are “filthy rich!”
The problem however is that, while they and President Lungu engage in a bragging contest with their fellow bourgeoisies, the ordinary Zambians are told to adjust in accordance with austerity measures. When a proposal to allocate funds towards the payment of retirees is raised, members of parliament from the ruling party shoot it down. Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters in State House can afford to use dollar bills as toilet tissue.
When the International Monetary Fund advises that our government cuts down on its expenditure, swiftly they remove fuel subsidies and increase electricity tariffs, while taking their lavish lifestyles to the sky.
Surely, is this the kind of mockery we are expected to endure for the next four years and beyond under the PF administration? Why Mr Kaizer, why? Have you forgotten so soon the plight of the poor people you used to serve at Chelston. Do you not remember how small and delayed your salary was when you were a lab technician, as a result of top government leaders living large at your expense?
Anyway, we are sure that the Zambian people appreciate your courtesy of showing them how their President’s delegation travels. It is now upto them to decide what to think when Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba tells them that the Head of State has significantly reduced his entourage? They can now see how the ‘small’ delegation spends its flying hours.
As for Mr Sunday Chanda’s claim that the circulating photograph was taken in 2015, we would like to remind his entire political party that Zambians are not as foolish as they are perceived. No matter how high you may be in the political hierarchy of the country, you cannot outsmart the public. Zambians keep record of everything they see, read and hear. They see the foolishness in some political statements and claims, but they just persevere through the nonsense.
Mr Chanda cannot fool us into believing that the picture was taken in 2015 during the campaigns. Which campaigns? The major campaign held in 2015 was ahead of the presidential elections on January 20th and at that time Mr Kaizer stood dismissed from the civil service, not to mention State House. Ms Kalulu who is bending over on that photograph was bending from somewhere around the Ministry of Local Government – nowhere near the Presidential challenger jet. At that particular time, the only Zambian who had authority to take a delegation on the Presidential challenger was acting President Dr Guy Scott, and there was no political advisor position at State House.
But assuming that Mr Chanda was referring to some parliamentary by-election campaigns that took place later that year after President Lungu and his band took over, is he telling the Zambian people that this is how the President’s campaign entourage looks like; with senior civil servants drinking champagne before going to solicit for votes from hungry Zambians?
It may be true that the now famous photograph was not taken last Friday. But the question remains; if this was not the presidential challenger, whose private jet were these State House officials using and at whose cost? If this photo was taken on a presidential trip, where was the Head of State while these two were pouring wine and toasting to each other?
Is this the behaviour that President Lungu encourages among his advisors when they are on duty; where Mr Kaizer can be holding a champagne bottle in between his thighs, without even a jacket or necktie? If these are the sober advisors of the President, in what state was the person they were employed to advise then? And these privileged few in the President’s inner circle even have the audacity to release such picture to the suffering citizens on social media.
Cry, the beloved country dear readers, because considering that these people were flying and drinking on duty, we must not doubt that our Republican President is not in total control of the State. If his staff can be drinking in his face like that, we can further deduce that he has no capacity or interest to discipline them.
But maybe drinking on duty at State House is permitted, provided you drink more than the President so that you leave him with some dignity of not being the biggest drunkard.