CHISHIMBA Kambwili shed tears as he lamented the docility of Zambians amid injustices and misuse of national resources by President Edgar Lungu and his PF government. Kambwili says President Lungu is worse than former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He said even on the Financial Intelligence Centre Report, “President Lungu is lying with his white teeth.” Kambwili stressed lifestyle audit was not a witch-hunt but to ascertain how, for instance, President Lungu’s wealth rose from K2 million to K23 million in one year.
During the Press Freedom Committee of The Mast Newsmakers public discussions on State of the Nation from the opposition perspective at Lusaka’s Taj Pamodzi Hotel on Monday evening, Kambwili broke down as he deliberated on how Zambians have been silent in the midst of misuse of national resources by those in leadership.
“These are the things we are talking about. In Zambia today everything has been narrowed down to the presidency…you want a contract, you have to go to State House. You want to be employed in the civil service, you have to go to State House. You want to do business you have to go to State House,” he said. “It can’t be like this, and we all know that when they say from above, it’s obviously the President. We had an opportunity to reduce the powers of the President in the last constitution-making process but what did we do? When they were constituting these provincial committees, they chose their own people and tell them that this is what we want to achieve and they follow that. But most of us when there are these constitution-making sittings we don’t care to go and add our voices. We simply say, ‘awe fyama politics fye, leave them’, and I can tell you these politicians enjoy that.”
Kambwili said those in power enjoy it when citizens are not fighting them.
“…can you imagine that the Penal Code provides that granting a police bond should be decided by the officer-in-charge… officer-in-charge – not a commanding officer – but you hear when you want a police bond they tell you that we are waiting for the commissioner. Is the commissioner defined in the law? The only person mentioned under the issuance of police bond is the officer-in-charge,” he said. “We have a situation where an officer-in-charge cannot issue a police bond to a politician or anyone who has crossed paths with those in authority and we leave it just like that. Here is a minister accused of corruption and is taken for questioning but two minutes later he is out on police bond, but an opposition is accused of unlawful assembly – a misdemeanor – is kept in detention over the weekend, and we are quiet as Zambians. You let even those who want to speak ukunenuka (discouraged), except some of us twalishimpula nga umusunga tufwayafye ukwakusha umutwe.”
Kambwili said such frustrates those who speak for the suffering majority.
“You talk and talk, you are arrested and released and the Zambians whom you have been talking for are quiet. Sometimes you even say ‘why should I waste my time? Why this trouble?’ Please, Zambians break this silence. President aisa, atweba ati I am worth K1 million. One year after being in office he declares K23 million and we are quiet. Mwema Zambians, no, no, no!” Kambwili said as he stood up from his seat in fury.
Quoting an excerpt by Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu from a book written by Father Elias Muma entitled ‘Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence’, Kambwili with tears running down his cheeks, urged Zambians to break the silence and begin taking action.
“Fr Muma’s desire to draw the attention of every well-meaning Zambians to the problem of socialised and institutionalised conspiracy of silence in our country is filled with enormous potential for development. This conspiracy of silence is not by accident but politically designed through threats and intimidation. We, as Bishops, every time we see something that is not right, we stand up and speak, but what about the rest of the citizens who are even under so much pressure? Where are the voices of the professors, lecturers, lawyers, trade unions, business people, economists, accountants, health practitioners, engineers, bankers, teachers and general workforce? As long as we decide to be silent, this country will forever accept rhetoric,” reads Archbishop Mpundu foreword.
Kambwili said that was what Zambia was now experiencing.
“It can’t be like that, and ladies and gentlemen it can’t be like that. And such a President then goes on a podium to say, ‘we are fighting corruption!’ Ndashimya ZNBC (I turn off ZNBC TV). Us Zambians we are not serious. If we took on President Edgar Lungu…he is running a presidential fund, in the last three years… his salary is K45,000 and if he was to earn all his salary without deductions in a year he would earn just about K500,000,” he said. “But where has he gotten the K30 million to give the marketeers? Which business did he do because from his own declaration he said he doesn’t do anything except that he will be President? His officials when they became ministers, they didn’t even have a bicycle but today when they go to Grand Daddies [an upmarket bar in Salama Park] – some of us don’t go there but we hear stories – bill nga bamupela K100,000, who can spend K100,000 on drinks? God save us. We should stop this silence as Zambians and speak for ourselves because nobody will speak for us. Well, I speak about these things so passionately because I have lived in countries where people rise. Utukote (elderly people) tulema ku England but imwe mwebaiche 22 years muletina ba [you are scared of the) police.”
Kambwili said Zambians had allowed the politician to control them.
“When making decisions in Cabinet the biggest question always is, how will the Zambian people react,” he said. “But I can tell you for nothing, Zambians are docile. Zambians are so scared of police cells, police uniforms, even when we know this person is breaking the law. Someone buys a fire tender for US $1 million you are quiet and today that person is Minister of Home Affairs. [Stephen] Kampyongo is a minister responsible for security, surely!”
Kambwili asked Zambians to change their mindset and get involved in governance.
“Masses cannot be defeated. Power of the masses is what is required to get out of this quagmire,” he said. “Sometimes I feel we should have gone through the apartheid system so that our hearts are solidified. Look at South Africans!”
Kambwili described President Lungu as being worse than Idi Amin.
“The man at State House is worse than Idi Amin. We have been too quiet for a long time, we have accepted rhetoric for too long. Bushe ubusha bukapwa lilali (when will servitude),” he wondered.
Kambwili said President Lungu’s regime rules by economically squeezing those not sympathetic with the PF.
He said while his contracts with the mines had been cancelled, he had resolved not to rejoin the PF just for the sake of filling his tummy and pockets.
“This is sad for democracy. But in any revolution, there are casualties,” Kambwili said. “Otherwise, there’s no democracy in Zambia. President Edgar Lungu thinks he’s the Alpha and Omega of this country. Police and Edgar Lungu think Zambians are so backward and stupid.”
Meanwhile, Kambwili said former president Frederick Chiluba left nothing but a trail of corruption.
“… I was invited to that function [Chiluba Memorial Lecture on Sunday] but I said, ‘I am the voice against corruption in this country’. What did Frederick Chiluba bring to this country? What did he achieve? Where I come from they say, umusuku uubi watikishe impanga ( a bad seed affects the whole bush). You know if you do something good, very few people will notice it, you know that,” he said. “But you do something bad, everyone will know that ‘Mulenga napela ifumo pa bana Bwalya (has impregnanted someone at bwalya’s mother’s homestead)’. So the good that we do is because we are expected to do, that’s why people don’t mind about it but the bad that we do must raise an alarm. What Frederick Chiluba left in this country is nothing but corruption but because Richard Sakala and Rupiah Bwezani Banda are all thieves they want to try and launder Chiluba’s image. And you even go there to listen! Me, I didn’t go there because my conviction tells me that what Chiluba left is nothing but a trail of corruption so why should I go and celebrate a person who has left ulubola (seed) in this country?”
Kambwili maintained that the issue of bringing back the position of deputy ministers should not be entertained.
“Deputy ministers, we used it [under President Michael Sata]. It’s a political strategy and in their case they want to increase numbers in Parliament to vote for pro-PF laws. You know you need two-thirds majority for constitutional amendments,” he said. “PF know they need opposition MPs whom they’ll appoint into government to pass laws tailored to them.”
He said Zambia’s only hope lies with the UPND and NDC members of parliament rejecting the motion when its tabled in the House.
“I’ll be speaking to president HH (Hakainde Hichilema) to plead with the MPs. [That] please don’t sell your conscience, don’t sell us. We are banking on you,” he said.
Kambwili said the National Dialogue Forum’s resolutions were meant to perpetuate the PF’s stay in power. He warned the proposed coalition government would be fatal to the country.
“This coalition government they are proposing through NDF, and this corruption and money they have stolen, you will never remove PF from government,” warned Kambwili.