When people are running away from an inferno but one man is running in the opposite direction, it means two things; either he is the fire man or he is coming from an impoverished house and is willing to risk his life; going in to scavenge for food and whatever else, before the burning house finally collapses.
That is how we view Mr Antonio Mwanza’s move from FDD to join the embattled PF at this hour, when other people are jumping out of the sinking Titanic.
Those who campaigned for Mr Edgar Lungu to become President are telling us that he is a good for nothing Pompwe who must not be trusted. So we must ask why a vibrant young politician like Mr Antonio, whose politics we have respected since his UNZASU days, would jump on the Pompwe bandwagon when founders are jumping out.
Is he going in to resuscitate the PF? No, he doesn’t have what it takes. He is not the fireman; so this move leaves us one sensible explanation. He is going in as a scavenger; yamunyokola!
But stomachs don’t always make good decisions. Sometimes we must disagree with what they demand, because satisfying all their cravings may land us into life-threatening problems. That is why we are disappointed with Mr Antonio, because we know this move is in the interest of his belly and the bellies of those who are in his immediate family.
If this is the wisdom of Mr Antonio that his political moves must benefit his immediate family and not his followers, then he must have been fooling us all this time. He is not any different from his new accomplices in PF who are looting public resources to enrich their families. He has gone in with a Pompwe mentality.
When we follow the recent activities in PF, we notice that they seem to be preparing for a by-election for Munali Constituency. That is why the President has pointlessly adopted Mumbi Phiri to Parliament so that once Prof Nkandu Luo is ejected, Mr Antonio can take over. In that case, we pity the people of Munali, because with that attitude of putting his family first, what will stop him from grading the road that goes to his relatives first before considering the road that goes to the community school?
We always thought Mr Antonio consulted his family before joining politics and prepared them that there would be hardships to endure and sacrifices to make in order for him to offer selfless service to the people. But we can’t blame him much because in our current Pompwe society, enriching your wife and children, is rule number one.
But we will not hide our disappointment. Mr Antonio has broken hearts of many young people who counted him as the face of the new generation politics and a game changer. To hear him say, “I cannot die in opposition” makes our hearts bleed. It is okay to hear some PF ministers make foolish pronouncements because there is no thinking competition in the party; the President has set the bar too low. But it is utterly upsetting to hear an intelligent man like Mr Antonio say stupid things in front of cameras. Is he saying all those who died serving Zambia from outside government were foolish? Does he think his status has improved now that he is in the ruling party?
Mr Antonio is proudly saying, “I have realised that you can’t win a game from outside, you have to join in”, which game? The game of corruption, violence and lies? Is that what he will be defending when he goes on radio now? We are asking because during his defection, Mr Antonio told the people that he had unlimited access to the Home Affairs Minister; he said he would go to Honourable Kampyongo’s office to challenge his bad decisions and the minister would listen. So what was wrong with staying in the opposition if he was that effective? The answer is simple, his stomach hijacked his brain.
That is why he was confidently declaring that Harry Kalaba’s resignation has left him an opportunity to be Minister. We wish him good luck on that one because Honourable Kampyongo doesn’t appoint ministers. We also can’t wait to see how the defiant youths in the PF will welcome him, considering that he has made it clear that he is going in as a job seeker.
But back to his political move and its ramification, although Mr Antonio has jumped from the pan to the fire, his greedy move has taught president Edith Nawakwi a lesson. The FDD leader dumped the party and went into hiding while Mr Antonio toiled from radio station to radio station without money, trying to keep the party’s name in the newspapers. After accruing millions from the last campaign, Nawakwi who refused to pick Antonio as her running mate in 2016, went to invest at her farm only to retain with bitter words for her fellow opposition leaders. She did not make sense and evidently she did not inspire her own party.
So in this move, Mr Antonio has won the battle against Nawakwi, but has lost the war for Zambia. He has conceded defeat in the most embarrassing way possible, because just the other week, he was on radio denouncing the party in power. His defection to the PF is a blow to the struggle for morality in politics. The people who placed their hopes in him are the biggest losers.
On the other hand, the PF must not be too excited about this defection. If anything, they must be worried and inquisitive. If a man who was insulting you yesterday agrees to hold your ladder today, you must not trust him.
We have interacted with Mr Antonio for a very long time; we know what he stands for and how disgusted he is with the PF leadership. There is nothing that has changed in the PF since the last time Mr Antonio was condemning the party. So for him to suddenly jump and sing Hallelujah to the Great leader, it must unsettle the wise.
Our view is that Mr Antonio still does not believe in the PF style of governance. So he has joined the party with a very specific mission. It is for this reason that we say, what Mumbi Phiri and Honourable Kampyongo were welcoming at the PF secretariat were Antonio’s mouth and stomach; his brain has remained in the opposition with no one to use it.
Anyway, that said, we must accept that Mr Antonio has not broken any law. He has merely exercised his freedom of association in the same way that we have exercised our freedom of expression on his political move. We have no hate feelings, but we wish he had tried some deworming pills and persevered a little longer before going to drown.