AS more questions are asked over Bank of Zambia’s decision to spend K370,000 on the Big Tree monument in Kabwe, National Restoration Party secretary general Ezra Ngulube has suggested that the central bank starts funding Mpundu Mutembo for using his portrait on Bank notes.
And National Democratic Congress member of the Central Committee Gilbert Bwali Musonda has urged government to appreciate Mutembo while he is still alive.
Mutembo lives in Mbala.
The 82-year-old freedom fighter, whose image is Zambia’s symbol for freedom, has lamented that the current government and those that came before it have neglected him.
In October, Mutembo popularly known as ZANCO said he was suffering, without a house yet his contribution to Zambia’s emancipation was talked about everyday by politicians.
He said God would punish those that have neglected him to suffer.
Mutembo wondered why politicians lay wreaths at his statue in commemoration of Zambia’s liberation when he was not invited to events depicting freedom.
“I am suffering, njenda nenkasa, abana bandi bafwa na povate (I walk, and my children have died as a result of hunger), it’s very shameful, very shameful. Bambi Lesa akaya bocha (God will come and punish you), politicians are selfish. Who has sat on my rights? I am here in Lusaka but why have I not been invited to State House,” Mutembo lamented.
The Freedom fighter, holder of Zambia’s National Registration card number two, only second to Kenneth Kaunda, lamented that his significance had be dwarfed to an extent where even on an important day like the Africa Freedom Day, the government does not invite him.
“I was honoured by the last governor of Northern Rhodesia Sir Evelyn Hone, uwachita straggle nine nangu balenchinta so. Abo abalwisha ishina lyandi (those who fight my name), I am not a criminal, nshatala ipayapo umuntu (I have never killed a person), awe, ndi muno, today is 25th May, Africa Freedom Day, cinshi bashinsendele ukuntwala ku (why have they not taken me to) State House? uwikele pamupando wandi ninani balondolole lelo (who has sat on my seat, let them explain today). Nshapangapo umulandu (I have never caused trouble), no, I am a symbol of the nation, ichi ichifulo efyo chaba cha permanent techakutila tuyesala (it is not elective) symbol of the nation awe.”
But Ngulube said: “We live in a very cruel society where government cares more about trees than human beings. Zanco is not just an elderly citizen but whose portrait is on the some money they are using. He is a symbol of Zambia’s freedom, the freedom even the decision makers at BoZ are enjoying. That money [K370,000] would have gone along away in helping the old man and many other retirees who are suffering like stray cats in the streets of Kamwala.”
Ngulube said the Bank of Zambia must not at any time be turned into a political party’s house of deals.
“We wish to recommend that certain individuals at BoZ must be retired in national interest because some people have overstayed at BoZ to an extent of clouding their thinking. We need a change of leadership at BoZ to save Zambia,” said Ngulube.
And Musonda wondered how Bank of Zambia would spend K370,000 on a tree but neglecting the Zambian freedom struggle icon whose face is on the country’s currency.
“The Bank of Zambia should immediately fund Mpundu Mutembo for using him on bank notes. We know that any well meaning Zambian cannot ignore this national character and helping this great man of the soil is more important. We need to see Zambian icons being appreciated for their contributions to the nation. The tree was apportioned K370,000 in maintenance and therefore we argue that our government should help this great man while he is still alive,” said Musonda.