(By Oliver Chisenga and Chambwa Moonga)
GOVERNANCE activist Brebner Changala has said denying people entry into Zambia is getting out of hand. And Mike Mulongoti says Zambians have intellectual dwarfs in leadership. Meanwhile, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the deportation of Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba has brought unnecessary shame to Zambia.
Prof Lumumba was supposed to be guest speaker at a scheduled public lecture discussing “Africa in the Age of China influence and global geo-dynamics” at the invitation of Eden University. He was supposed to discuss a critical issue of Chinese investment that is spreading across the continent. The KQ706 flight carrying Prof Lumumba touched down at KKIA around 12:05 hours but immigration officers held him in the VIP launge before bundling him back on the same flight that had brought him to Lusaka.
Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya said government, through the immigration department had denied entry into Zambia of Prof Lumumba, a Kenyan, due to security considerations.
“Immigration is a security wing working with agencies within and beyond Zambia,” confirmed Siliya via Twitter.
Event organisers, Eden University executive director Kelvin Kaunda said he was not sure why his guest had been sent back.
“We will engage the authorities at the appropriate time. We are going to issue a comprehensive statement,” Kaunda said.
He said the authorities should have engaged them earlier before allowing the university spend money organising the event.
When he opened the National Assembly a fortnight ago, President Lungu said Zambia would choose its friends at own terms. Reacting to the PF government’s deportation of Prof Lumumba, a pan Africanist, at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka on Saturday, Changala complained that the mistreatment of the Kenyan was a “dark day” for Zambia.
“The PF as a government is committing a lot of atrocities in our name as the people of Zambia. They are doing things in our name that we do not approve of in order to safeguard their personal interest. I know when a regime has lost legitimacy, it tends to behave in a very cantankerous way,” Changala said.
He noted that a day would come when Professor Lumumba would be “graciously and honourably received by the people of Zambia when these elected tyrants, criminals have been kicked out of power”.
“They will be kicked out of power for they have committed a lot of aggressive atrocities against citizens and later on those [people] in SADC, those in COMESA and the general region in sub-Sahara. This is a regime that doesn’t mean well [and] it’s an embarrassment to humanity and an embarrassment to the spirit of co-existence. This is an embarrassment to divergent philosophies of human nature because we live in a diverse world where competition for ideas is the hallmark of development and to shut up Professor Lumumba in Zambia is a dark day. I must say President Lungu, you are a shame [and] a dark spot to this country and the continent as a whole,” Changala charged.
Changala added that Prof Lumumba was an African intellectual who inspired both the young and old.
“All of us were ready to listen to him and get motivated and inspired [but] only to be challenged and hit below the belt by the very government which says it’s trying to save our interest in the name of security,” he regretted.
“That’s an abomination to treat citizens in the way they are treating us! We are not children and we know what is good for this country. Some of us have been around longer than those who are taking people for granted, abusing our name [and] abusing the mandate to commit atrocities against this country.”
He branded the PF government as “a now failed project” and that it was governing this country “in injury time.”
“I render an unreserved apology to Professor Lumumba and the people of Kenya. This regime that refused entry to Professor Lumumba is doing these things in our name but they have lost legitimacy. He must accept our apology, knowing very well that in Africa when a regime loses legitimacy it becomes brutal. What happened to Professor Lumumba, what happened to [Mmusi] Maimane, what happened to Tendai Biti is against ubuntu,” said Changala.
“But all these people must accept that Brebner Changala has apologised on behalf of all decent citizens of the Republic of Zambia. It’s not that what happened was done with full approval of the people of Zambia. This is a regime that is scared of its own shadow. Professor Lumumba came to Zambia not with a gun but he came only with his mouth and brain. Whatever he wanted to tell us, he can still do it through social media and we will get it.”
And Mulongoti said if Zambia had intellectual giants in leadership, they would have appreciated the need for Professor Patrick Lumumba to come and speak to the people instead of deporting him.
He said stopping Zambians from listening to an intellectual from outside the country was regrettable.
The People’s Party president, said intellectual midgets in leadership were scared of a giant of Prof Lumumba’s calibre.
“Let us start by acknowledging that we have intellectual dwarfs looking at that issue, intellectual midgets. If we had intellectual giants, they would have appreciated the need for that gentleman to come and speak to the people of Zambia, children, the youths etc would have had an alternative to listen to,” he said. “This leadership here is not able to give the people of Zambia anything. They are silent because they are intellectual dwarfs so when they see an intellectual giant come, they are scared…what security? He was in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and spoke. He went all over and spoke, what security upheavals were there? We just have intellectual dwarfs trying to mess up our intellectual state.”
Mulongoti said the country had degenerated into lawlessness where rights of citizens were not respected.
“We have degenerated into lawlessness and lack of respects for rights of citizens because who they listen to, who they talk to, is a right in the Constitution but an intellectual dwarf is stopping listening to an opinion of an intellectual from outside the country is regrettable,” said Mulongoti.
And Hichilema stated that the action was confirmation of the PF government’s despotic being.
“We have studied the issue surrounding the deportation of a highly respected academician and pan Africanist Prof PLO Lumumba and we do not agree with it,” Hichilema stated in a press statement.
“We find the action by the PF leadership to humiliate him in such a manner at the airport highly irresponsible, harsh, and goes further to confirm what we have been saying that this government is led by despots.”
He wondered what risk Prof Lumumba posed on Zambia “as being claimed by the despotic PF regime.”
“Our country and the world is aware that this oppressive government has deported other citizens of the world in a similar illegal manner such as Mmusi Maimane, a South African opposition leader, Tendai Biti, another opposition leader from Zimbabwe, Cuban Ambassador to Zambia and other foreign personalities,” Hichilema stated.
The main oppositoon leader added that such deportations of certain foreign dignitaries were what were denting the country’s image.
“From what we understand, Prof Lumumba has been giving intellectual discourse in many parts of the world, the recent (one) being in Zimbabwe at an event which we understand even Cabinet ministers attended. So, what security risk does Prof Lumumba pose to Zambia as being claimed by the despotic PF regime,” he stated.
“To us, the people who pose security risks are the foreigners who are grabbing our land, grabbing our State assets at the expense of Zambians.”
Hichilema stated that Zambia was an integral member of the global community and that as such, “one would expect that the PF government would treat nationals from other countries with respect, dignity and decorum they deserve.”
“This is a minimum legal and civil requirement in addition to being a matter of good order, diplomatic relations and security for our citizens who are resident in other countries,” Hichilema stated, asserting further that the UPND valued fundamental freedoms of speech, conscious, association and other liberties as enshrined in local and international conventions to which we are signatories.”
“This PF regime is causing unnecessary shame to our country in the face of the whole world.”
Hichimema stated that the deportation of Prof Lumumba, a Kenyan, was illegal and that it should be ‘rescinded immediately and allow him to continue with his business if he so wishes