GEORGE Chellah says repetitive claims by former Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda that late president Michael Chilufya Sata’s aides swapped his last speech to Parliament is not true.
Reacting to Chikwanda’s statement on ZNBC’s Sunday interview that the presidency is a very vulnerable institution and people can easily invade it, as those who worked for Michael Sata did when they swapped the late president’s last speech to Parliament, Chellah said the accusation was absurd.
Speaking during ZNBC’s Sunday interview, Chikwanda repeated that Sata gave him the original speech that he wanted to read in Parliament but that it was swapped by his advisors, much to his disappointment.
But Chellah rebutted Chikwanda’s repeated claims saying his attempts at linking innocent persons to his fictional conspiracies was malicious and a cruel effort meant to settle old scores for the work the aides did in stopping certain activities meant to abuse Sata’s presidency at the time he was unwell.
“I have noted with disappointment Mr Alexander Bwalya Chikwanda’s repetitive claims that the late president Mr Michael Chilufya Sata’s [MHSRIP] aides swapped his last speech to Parliament. I do recall that the last time Mr Chikwanda made similar absurd accusations I rebutted them with an elaborate response that stipulated the procedure attendant upon the preparation of a presidential speech. No one swapped any speeches and Mr Chikwanda knows this,” Chellah said.
“Quite honestly, it is unhelpful to keep engaging in this unproductive and now tired debate, save to say that I can only describe Mr Chikwanda’s attempts at linking innocent persons to his fictional conspiracies as malicious and a cruel attempt to settle old scores for the work some of us did in stopping certain activities meant to abuse Mr Michael Sata’s presidency at the time he was unwell, which I will at an appropriate time have occasion to discuss. Perhaps ba shikulu would do well to concentrate his efforts on explaining the policy decisions made during his time at the Ministry of Finance and whether he or his company, Sigma, benefited from these policy decisions.”
He said Chikwanda should be allowed to rest and not abused.
Chellah stated that parading Chikwanda on national television clearly showed the extent to which the country abused the aged.
He further said the former finance minister had done enough to contribute to the current state of the Zambian economy, which he should be reflecting on rather than spinning “incredible tales of conspiracies”.
“In fact, I don’t know about you but for me, watching ba shikulu ba Chikwanda on national television last Sunday just exposed the extent to which this country abuses the aged at times. Whoever fixed that interview is being very unkind to the old man. Let ba shikulu take a rest. Allow him chance to reflect and pen down his memoirs alongside telling family stories to his grandchildren. Ba shikulu has done enough to contribute to the current state of our economy; he surely must have a lot to reflect on rather than spinning incredible tales of conspiracies. I thank you,” said Chellah.
In January this year, Chikwanda made scathing allegations against Chellah and other former State House staff, claiming that they colluded to swap Sata’s speech.
“We all mourn late president Sata who was undermined by people around him to the extent of having the speech he ordained for the fourth session of the 11th National Assembly of Friday 19th September 2014 removed for one he found was not his speech. He was alarmed and severely constrained to read that speech and unfortunately, he just made off tangent jokes,” said Chikwanda.
Chellah then published a rebuttal, accusing Chikwanda of insulting the institution of the presidency with his “lies”.
“The write-up by Mr Chikwanda has one material misconception, which I wish to correct. Presidential speeches are subjected to an elaborate and well-structured process, and to suggest that any one person in a former or the current government can manipulate a presidential speech meant for the legislature, is both an assault on the government process and also on the integrity of the sitting Head of State,” stated Chellah.
Chikwanda, however, repeated his statement during the Sunday Interview.
When TV host Grevazio Zulu asked if it was possible for State House staff to do such a thing to a Head of State, the former minister said the presidency was a very vulnerable institution.
“Yes, it is possible. I had a copy myself; he asked me to look at it, so he asked me to keep his copy, which I produced, I didn’t manufacture the copy. In that speech, which was read, he substituted with that bulk speech, which he didn’t read, because he realised it wasn’t what he wanted to read, so he started, unfortunately, he just started making standing jokes,” Chikwanda said.
Asked why the culprit who swapped the speech was not dealt with, Chikwanda said that was because Sata died shortly afterwards.
“Mr Sata didn’t have time (to deal with the one who changed the speech) because one month later he died. The presidency is a very vulnerable institution,” Chikwanda claimed.
He added that there were high priests of corruption serving in the PF government.
“Yes, there are people speaking of corruption who are themselves high priests of corruption. I don’t think that all the people throwing stones are really right. They live in glass houses and I think they should be restrained in throwing stones. Corruption, we fight it as a society and change the moral dispositions of our country to make people realise that there is meaning to life beyond senseless accumulations, beyond material trappings,” said Chikwanda.