A BRAWL has ensued between the Patriotic Front deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri and her Lusaka Province chairman Paul Moonga over remarks made by the latter where he was alleging that some Constitutional Court judges have been approached by lawyers representing the opposition to take bribes and disqualify President Edgar Lungu from contesting the August 2021 elections. In an attempt to distance the party from the reckless accusations, Phiri seems to have stepped on some hot coals and her subordinate is warning her that she will burn her fingers.

Paul MOONGA: “Do I report to her office? Is she my boss? I am running an office, she is not running an office, she is under supervision of the SG. I am running a province and we have our own information which is correct information. Madam Phiri was saying this has no blessing from the party, it is unfortunate. I don’t need permission from her. Because I don’t report to her office. I am saying I don’t report to her office. If she wanted to consult me, she should have called me. The same deputy SG. Let her keep her lane, let her leave my lane. Let her mind her business. I am protecting the office of the President.”

Under normal circumstances, this would be a clear case of insubordination. We remember that this same party suspended Mumbi Phiri from her position after she made some disrespectful remarks to the President during a party function. She was strongly reprimanded and forced to eat a humble pie, but today, the same disrespect has been lamped on her and no one in the party seems to care. Why? The answer is that Moonga is not alone.

Moonga’s mischief has been sanctioned by the top leadership of PF, and in this case the president. Our observation is that this attack and threat on the judges has been sponsored by State House, but the President wants to maintain plausible deniability. When you speak with the level of confidence and arrogance of Paul Moonga, where you even say that ‘this deputy secretary general is not my boss, it means you are protected at the highest level. In any establishment, there is a principal and the number two. If you are saying the number two is a nobody and she should shut up, then you must have gotten some clear instruction from the number one, in this case President Lungu, to say so.

What Moonga is saying is not practical in a normal institution because he is a provincial chairman and Mumbi Phiri is at the national leadership, she is the deputy chief executive. It’s a matter of common sense. You cannot say that somebody who is at national leadership is not your boss and that you who is at the provincial leadership cannot report to her. Something big is going on here and it seems only a few individuals are in on the mischievous scheme.

Even though he may have gotten into power with a drinking problem, President Lungu is a skillful manipulator. It is easy to find his handwork, but it’s almost impossible to find his fingerprints. Look at the way he played his cards on the closure of The Post. Everybody knew he was behind it, but no one could be able to find evidence of that. That is how skillful the man is, he should not be underestimated. These threats and warning on the judges are going on with his blessings.

The PF agenda is designed to push the judges in line, to make them realise that State House and the party in power will not accept any other outcome of the petition other than declaring him eligible. That’s the wish of State House, and Mr Moonga has been recruited to achieve that goal. This is the reason why he is insisting to say, ‘I am protecting the office of the President’ or ‘I am defending Mr Lungu.’ What they are trying to do is to embark on a campaign to scare the judges. That is what they are trying to achieve with now.

We challenge Mr Lungu to come out clean on this matter. These people who are attacking judges are doing it in his name. Is he happy about it? What does he have to say to Moonga? Why does he seem unmoved with the fact that his party is issuing reckless statements on the judiciary?