HARRY Kalaba says President Edgar Lungu should “maintain his space”, unlike pushing him to strain his political diplomacy.
Drumming up support for Bahati parliamentary by-election PF candidate Charles Chalwe at Kaole Primary School ground in Mansa district on Saturday, President Lungu challenged the ex-foreign affairs minister Kalaba to provide the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) the evidence of corruption he “claimed” to have witnessed when he served in Cabinet.
The President, among other anti-Kalaba remarks, told the crowd that Kalaba’s resignation as a minister in January 2018 had more to do with his failure to nurse his presidential ambitions.
He added that it would be imperative for the people of Bahati Constituency to politically bury Kalaba’s politics after the 2021 general elections.
“Back in 2017 when we were in Pretoria, I said to him ‘I’m hearing that you want the presidency very much. But take it easy; when it is your time in future to succeed me, I’ll support you’. But all he said was ‘they are accusing me and God is my witness’. I told him that having an ambition is okay but God’s time is the best…” revealed President Lungu.
“I challenge him to state when he discovered that there is corruption [in the PF government]. I challenge him to state who is corrupt and why he stayed the course until that day when he left without telling me; because he was very close to me. If Kalaba truly saw corruption in PF, let him go to the ACC and report. It’s not for us to defend ourselves against false corruption allegations. He who alleges must prove!”
In a brief interview, Kalaba, who is Democratic Party (DP) president, told The Mast that President Lungu was “hoping that I would go back to his PF but he now knows I’m serious.”
“And does he really want me to talk? Lungu knows me well [and] I hope he maintains his space! He should not push me and strain my political diplomacy,” Kalaba warned.
And in Chisamba on Sunday, Kalaba said the earlier President Lungu got to terms with the reasons he resigned as a minister, “the better for him.”
“But I understand his bitterness – I ditched him. So, I don’t expect him to praise me and where I come from they say ushikutemenwe takakwebe busuma bobe (he who doesn’t like you will never speak good about you),” he said.
Kalaba also issued a press statement where he reiterated that he was not going to engage in the cheap politics of “untruths and character assassination” like President Lungu and his team were doing in Bahati and everywhere he goes.
He said while Zambia had a bankrupt treasury, President Lungu refused to accept the inevitable reality and further refused to conform his lifestyle to the national budget.
“They have instituted austerity measures but they themselves are exempt from these measures. Such a trivial approach to politics is what has brought us to where we are,” Kalaba stated.
“He (President Lungu) believes you and I should sacrifice while he continues basking in a high level life beyond what any President in the region, including the Western countries engage in.”
Kalaba lamented that the country had unemployment at the rate of 42 per cent and that the figure pointed to a national crisis.
“The few people we have in formal employment in the government service are not being paid the salaries. Those in the informal sector doing services for government are also not being paid. The universities are not funded and lecturers not paid,” Kalaba stated.
Meanwhile, Kalaba said the closure of the Copperbelt University (CBU) on Friday last week was “unfortunate, uncalled-for and very costly to the country.”
“It is affecting the standards and quality of education and the products of the education system. A responsible leadership could have addressed the root cause of the problem. The superficial remedial measures of closing universities and issuing threats do not offer sustainable solutions,” stated Kalaba.
“I urge the students to take heart.”