When Bahati member of parliament Harry Kalaba resigned as Foreign Affairs Minister, we realised that the problems in PF were bigger than estimated. This is not because Honourable Kalaba was their greatest minister and the PF could not survive without him. It was his resignation statement. We looked back to see when last we heard such a powerful piece of mind from a resigning minister, we couldn’t find.
It earned him seven stars and a vintage point in the battle for a better Zambia. Kalaba became the man – almost tossing aside Honourable Chishimba Kambwili and his sulky (sometimes nasty) political rantings against President Lungu and the PF.
After serving as Cabinet Minister for so many years, Honourable Kalaba came out without corruption scandals following him. Even while in government, he was rather the quiet type, playing by the book. This made him the right guy to roast the PF.
Now that he is out of government, he has the right and freedom to decide how to proceed with his political career. However, since in his resignation message he said he had chosen to die for the good of us the people of Zambia, we thought perhaps we could have a say on his style of death.
So far, we are afraid that the saint is slowly dissolving in vanity. He seems not to know that just a little bit of pride is a little too much out here. We are concerned that if he does not play his trump card with tactical precision, he will remain highly respected but without any meaningful political influence.
First thing Honourable Kalaba needs to realise is that, although he decided to remain in the Patriotic Front, the fact that he resigned with such a high-pitched castigation of the government and his party, he is now an opposition leader. That being the case, the new opposition leader needs to learn quickly that Zambians have certain expectations from him, before they can make their decisions on whether to support his agenda or ignore.
We have followed his radio debates keenly and from his tone, we can deduce that Honourable Kalaba doesn’t like all existing political parties. He doesn’t fancy remaining in PF, but also won’t join UPND, NDC or any other. He wants to be on the ballot in 2021. That might not be exactly what many Zambians expected, but it’s very ok – our Constitution has no issue with every citizen becoming a political party president.
However, we have observed that at the pace he is going, Mr Kalaba risks being a wise but isolated politician. When he was recently featured on a Hot FM Radio Programme, the host asked him if he was considering joining the NDC, and his response was “what is NDC?” It is not possible that a person who is politically awake cannot know that there is a political formation in the country called NDC or National Democratic Congress. Therefore that answer exposed Honourable Kalaba’s ego. He is distancing himself from his fellow ‘opposition’ leaders because perhaps he thinks he is too clean or intelligent to be associated with them.
It is just the other week when we wrote about another intelligent politician called Elias Chipimo who had been struggling to break through until he earned his relevance after turning his political party into a ‘quasi-NGO’ for the poor and vulnerable youths. Unlike Mr Chipimo who has been speculating about theft in government, Honourable Kalaba is coming from the epicenter of PF corruption. His knowledge and experience is like an assault rifle with unlimited rounds of ammunition.
But apparently, the former minister doesn’t know where to point his gun and when to fire. He has the bulls-eye in sight, but he can’t shoot. He thinks he has all the time on earth to, first of all, show off the diplomatic vocabulary he learnt before he can start sounding relevant. It hasn’t even been two months yet, but Honourable Kalaba is already sounding repetitive when he goes on radio; “There is nothing wrong with having a presidential ambition, I cannot be intimidated, I will remain in PF, ndi mwana wa mfumu… bla bla bla!”
Where is the fight he promised the citizens? In English they say, “Strike while the iron is still hot”, what is he waiting for? Or has he forgotten the anxiety that he ignited among Zambians through his resignation statement? Mr Harry Kalaba said:
· My fundamental belief is that my allegiance should not be with a position, party or person, but it must be with the country and its people.
· We cannot proceed to manage national affairs with cold indifference when the levels of corruption are swelling and being perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution.
· Our youths are wallowing in poverty without a clear plan for them while business preferences and opportunities are always tilted in favour of outsiders.
· It would appear that the poor Zambians have ceased to be the reason we are holding power.
· Materialism and the propensity for money has taken over and is arrogantly at the centre of many decisions being made today.
· I can no longer be a silent listener to the whispers of greed and indifference making rounds in the corridors of power.
Honourable Kalaba, we have heard enough of the highlights, where is the full story of the greed, arrogance, corruption and propensity for wealth that you left in government? Time is now when Zambians are still tuning in to listen to your voice. Deciding whether to stand in 2021 is easy, the hard part is wooing citizens to rally behind you. It’s not as simple as printing “Kalaba Talaba” on T-shirts and distributing to a handful of supporters. If it was that easy, Rupiah Banda would have been President of Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and all the neighbouring countries that benefited from his printed campaign materials in 2011. Michael Sata did it with his mouth and by being accessible to the media, not a few selected journalist friends.
In this country, sometimes a little ‘unreasonableness’ is what it takes to win the love and following of the majority. That’s the opposition leader Zambians want.
But maybe the former minister want s to change the face of politics in Zambia; he wants to bring decency or diplomacy to political debates and get rid of name calling, finger pointing and confrontation. If that is the case, we wish His Excellency Prince Harry Kalaba the best.