(By Chambwa Moonga and Charles Tembo)
HARRY Kalaba says the National Dialogue Forum resolutions are designed to give the PF a lifeline ahead of the 2021 general elections. Meanwhile, Kalaba, who is Democratic Party (DP) president, has pledged that he will lead a government of only 12 Cabinet ministers. Speaking on a special interview on KNC TV in Kabwe on Friday, Kalaba, who is a former foreign affairs minister, observed that the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) was a 2019 scandal.
Kalaba, who was accompanied by DP national treasurer Justine Nkonge, stressed that the NDF’s resolutions seek to benefit PF government officials.
“The Democratic Party was very, even before the process started, we knew as a party that that thing was a sham. The NDF, actually, is a scandal that has happened this year. All those resolutions they made at the end of the NDF, is there any resolution that is in the interest of the people of Zambia?” Kalaba wondered.
“The resolutions which were made are meant to prolong ministers’ pleasure. People have said they do not want deputy ministers because they inflate the cost of running government. But the PF have realised that we are nearing the 2021 general elections and balefwaya bapusuke (they want a lifeline) because ba Lungu nabamona ukutila support tabakwete (Mr Lungu has realised that he has no support) among the back-benchers. So, he wants to appoint deputy ministers at the expense of opening Mulungushi Textiles, for instance.”
Kalaba explained that all incentives given to a Cabinet minister were the same that were extended to the deputy minister.
“So, where is the saving there? In a country that owes about 80 per cent of its GDP, can you bring back deputy ministers?” he wondered, adding that the rationale of bringing back deputy ministers was purely political.
“It has nothing to do with the development of this country. If the PF government was serious with development, they would have encouraged the development of the civil service.”
Kalaba appealed to members of parliament, both from the PF and others, to side with the country than with individuals when the Constitution amendment bill is taken to Parliament next month.
He said that once elected to the Republican presidency, he would run a government with only 12 Cabinet ministers.
“Germany, which is the biggest economy in Europe, only has 14 Cabinet ministers. The whole USA has only 22 ministers,” he said.
“The first thing I will do when I become Republican President is to sell that presidential jet that is worth $135 million so that we take money where it’s supposed to go. There is money in this country; I was a minister. The only problem is poor usage of such money.”
Earlier, Kalaba lamented economic despondency among Kabwe residents.
“If there is a place where people are struggling, it’s here in Kabwe. Kabwe used to be called Broken Hill man but now it has broken people because the people of Kabwe are suffering. They promised them by the PF government that Mulungushi Textiles will open but it hasn’t been re-opened,” complained Kalaba.
Meanwhile, Kalaba regretted that President Lungu failed to employ “quiet diplomacy” to resolve the operational challenges associated with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).
Following President Lungu’s recent remarks at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, KCM has now been placed under provisional liquidation.
In Ndola yesterday, Kalaba said the PF would not be allowed to define the country’s future with sufferings.
He said things have fallen apart in Zambia.
He said the sufferings of people on the Copperbelt could not continue to go on.
“Zambia has a chance in DP. This is a fact. We need to rise. Things have fallen apart in Zambia. If we shy away, we will be putting the future of our children at risk. Why should we allow thieves to define our future? We will not allow the PF to define the future of our children which is on trial,” Kalaba told Democratic Party Copperbelt officials.
He said Zambians should start preparing for change within 24 months’ time. Kalaba said Zambia has a parent who does not care, but was quick to give chitenge materials.
“We need leaders that will care for the people. Today, what we have in government is a group of masqueraders. We have parents that are eating, yet the same parents say to the children, ‘don’t worry here is a cap and chitenge, go and put on’. That is what we have. But no amount of intimidation or harassment will stop me. If it’s my life they want, I will give them,” he said.
Kalaba said the levels of suffering from BP is on the high on the Copperbelt.
“If there is a place where suffering is immense, it is Copperbelt. We have a lot of unemployment on the Copperbelt other than any place in Zambia. If there is a place where levels of BP are high, it is Copperbelt. Everything is collapsed on the Copperbelt. The PF and its leaders are eating, but what about the other people?” he asked.
“The PF has squeezed the political space, but we need to rise above intimidation. Don’t be scared of arrests. Because even the police who will arrest you are suffering. We are using the same markets with the police, same shops. Even the 4 per cent salary increment is nothing. So we are suffering together at the hands of PF selfish leaders.”
He also said the DP was not in any alliance with opposition political parties.
“DP is not going in any alliance. We will remain as DP. Go into elections as DP, but if there are those that want to join the DP, our doors are open. Our resolve is clear and we will not mix it. Our agenda is clear,” said Kalaba.