(By Chambwa Moonga in Luangwa)
HARRY Kalaba says President Edgar Lungu has belittled the Office of the President with his thoughtless comments on many issues.
The Democratic Party (DP) president notes that President Lungu is no longer the custodian of Zambians’ interests because he has chosen to be sectarian, divisive and partisan.
Kalaba says the President was trying to push Tongas into a corner.
Before departure for Lusaka at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone on Saturday, President Lungu said a Tonga would one day ascend to the Republican presidency but that not the current aspirant.
President Lungu’s remarks were apparently directed at UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Kalaba was at Holy Spirit Parish, Katondwe Mission, in Luangwa district on Sunday where he was among hundreds of believers who participated in the annual pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine.
He was accompanied by DP national treasurer Justine Nkonge and some of the opposition party’s Lusaka Province officials.
The Marian Shrine is on the mountainous banks of the Luangwa River.
The somewhat demanding pilgrimage is done in honour of Mary, the spiritual mother of Jesus.
After homily was delivered by Holy Spirit Parish priest Fr Francis Chenga, Kalaba described the climbing holy walk as a great one.
“The pilgrimage which we did was great! It reminds us as Christians that our lives can have turbulences. But it doesn’t mean we should sway from the path of Christ,” Kalaba told journalists.
“After all, as tough as life might be, Mary the mother of Jesus went through the same. Our redeemer Himself Christ was even nailed to the cross; meaning that Christ came not to liberate us from suffering but to show us how to bear the challenges of life.”
Chief Mphuka of the Chikunda people of Luangwa and former Feira member of parliament Patrick Ngoma were among the congregants.
Kalaba also cautioned politicians against using their positions to divide others.
“Yesterday (on Saturday), for instance, I was reading the President dwelling on very divisive ground when he was talking about his colleague that he (Hichilema) will not be [Republican President] because he is coming from the Tonga-speaking people. As the President, he should not talk about tribal politics at a time such as this,” he advised.
“He should encourage inclusiveness because divided we fall, united we stand. We are only as strong as we are united and we are as weak as we are divided. He needs to preach love, he needs to preach reconciliation, he needs to preach unity instead of preaching what is he preaching.”
The former foreign affairs minister indicated that he did not know what was wrong with President Lungu because: “every time he stands up on a podium, he speaks division.”
“Recently, when he was given chance to talk he said out of 10 Bembas, six are thieves. The other day he was at a Pentecostal church and instead of preaching peace, he said ‘Catholics can take me on if they want, they should not play holy,’” Kalaba recalled.
“Yesterday (Saturday), he was saying ‘this Tonga cannot be….’ Every time he speaks, he is dividing us and that is not right. I’m saying let us all be united, let us focus on what brings us together – instead of what divides us.”
And Kalaba told The Mast, in an interview, that President Lungu: “is off-tangent” with his remarks on which Tonga would ascend to the Republican presidency.
“This man is not uniting us [but] he is dividing us and he has been dividing us every time that he has an opportunity to speak to the nation. Whether he is addressing serious economic issues, he will be dividing political parties, he will be dividing regions. If he is dealing with individuals, he will be dividing those individuals,” Kalaba insisted.
“So, he needs to begin reflecting seriously before he speaks. It seems, to me, the President does not take time to reflect before he speaks. He needs to take time to reflect deeply, he has to internalise deeply and realise that he is the President. Whatever he says has ramifications.”
He underscored that President Lungu had to apologise to the Bemba-speaking people: “for having said ‘out of 10, six are thieves.’”
“The President needs to apologise also to the Tonga-speaking people for segregating against them, for speaking ill about them and trying to push them in a corner, as if the Tonga-speaking people are not part of Zambia. It is unacceptable in the 21st century, 55 years after our independence to have a President who speaks like that,” Kalaba complained.
“We need to get rid of the President; President Lungu has to be shown the exit in 2021. He has demonstrated that he has belittled the Office of the President. He has undermined the confidence that has been bestowed on him by the people of Zambia. He is no longer the custodian of our interests because he has chosen to be sectarian, he has chosen to be divisive, he has chosen to be partisan.”
He added that President Lungu was no longer the epitome of Zambians’ shared hopes.
Kalaba noted that the DP was working hard to replace President Lungu in the 2021 general elections so that the country could have a father figure.
“He has chosen to confine himself to a narrow path and because he has chosen that path, it is high time we said ‘no, Mr President, enough is enough,’” said Kalaba.
“Even when we have differences, we should always remember that we are Zambians first before we are anything. Our interests as a people should never be undermined, let alone by the President.”
Meanwhile, still on Sunday, Kalaba paid a courtesy call on senior chief Mburuma of the Nsenga people of Luangwa district.