THE Constitutional Court ruling declaring President Edgar Lungu eligible to contest the 2021 elections because he had served less than three years means Rupiah Banda should not receive emoluments for a former head of state, says chief Mukuni. And Mukuni says he will side with the PF should the opposition decide to persecute any of its leaders in case the ruling party loses the 2021 elections. Speaking at Lumpasa Palace when NDC vice-president Josephs Akafumba paid a courtesy call on him, Mukuni said the ConCourt decision over President Lungu’s eligibility for 2021 was an advantage to the opposition and not to PF.
“The ConCourt ruling in my view disadvantages the PF than the opposition because if the PF had fielded somebody, in some way people would have said that he is coming to correct the wrongs done by the outgoing,” he said. “But if it is the same man (President Lungu), oh my God, his track record is there for everyone to see. That judgment to me says that RB (Rupiah Banda) was never a president, because he ruled for [a period] below three years. I don’t know why they gave him the presidential emoluments when he was never a president at all.”
Banda ruled from November 2, 2008 – September 23, 2011. Mukuni said that in some way, the PF under President Lungu was a bad example on how a good government can be and not be in terms of the rule of law. However, Mukuni warned that he would never tolerate victimisation of PF leaders in case any of the opposition leaders assumed office in 2021. He told Akafumba that he had called Chishimba Kambwili, the NDC leader, when he was stopped from seeing Paramount Chief Chitimukulu to reassure him that traditional leaders valued the leadership of the opposition.
“For us may be to some extent PF is right in that we have decided to side with the weaker [opposition]. But when you form government, I will then side with the PF if you persecute them,” he said. “But if you treat them well, I will then rest, I will retire. When GBM [Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba] was incarcerated, we advised him that should the UPND form government they should never seek to take revenge against the PF leadership. Once you do that, we will go against that government and protect the PF. And I stand by that. Whosoever forms government I would urge them never to retaliate, it separates the good from the bad, your role is to continue governing once you take over.”
Mukuni said not being vindictive would be good for national unity and peace. And Akafumba, lawyer and former justice permanent secretary, acknowledged Mukuni’s realisation that the PF was weak under President Lungu. He said a new leader in the ruling party would have started on a clean pedestal. He said he was visiting the chief to get counsel and urged all political leaders to occasionally visit traditional leaders for wisdom.
“Palaces are open to everyone and when us as politicians want to seek counsel we need to come to traditional leaders as yourself. But unlike now when we have total breakdown of law in that when Senior Chief Mukuni speaks, other people think ‘he is against us’; no, that is not the way. You have never spoken anything in opposition, when you speak it is to guide the nation and that is your role,” Akafumba said. “But it is unfortunate that the PF government misunderstands and takes it that you are against them and even go to an extent of withdrawing your allowances.”
Akafumba added that any leader who turns his back against traditional rulers and their counsel was bound to fail. He said the NDC under Kambwili would always seek guidance from traditional leaders. He said it was sad the PF government had denied the opposition their right to demonstrate against abuse of taxpayers’ money.