JACK Kalala says The Mast is playing the role that the Weekly Post played at the reintroduction of multipartism in 1991.
Speaking when he visited The Mast offices in Lusaka on Thursday, Kalala encouraged employees to soldier on and provide a platform to the public.
Kalala, who served as president Levy Mwanawasa’s special assistant for projects implementation, said although the government managed to ‘kill’ The Post they could not kill the spirit.
“It’s a privilege and honour to visit these new premises of yours, and also to congratulate you for your resilience because we all know that the intention was to kill you. But they killed the paper (The Post), but they did not kill the spirit. That we cannot take away from you, which is a very good thing, and which I’m sure is also inspiring to many people,” he said.
“They will say ‘look, if it happened to those people and they didn’t give up, even at individual level I said if it happened to them and they didn’t give up, why should I give up? Let me also persevere’. And it’s important in life to endeavour to persevere rather than giving up, yes. So it’s a good spirit, and I’m sure it will be a source of inspiration to many people.”
Kalala explained how he has overcome personal challenges he faced after leaving government 11 years ago.
“I’m so impressed even myself, I’m impressed and inspired. You know there are certain things that have happened in my life since I left [government]. To my business, I lost a lot of things but I said to myself why should I give up? That’s why today I’m in Ndola trying to find my feet and stand up and continue, until when the Lord will say ‘your tour of duty has ended here’, that’s when I’ll give up,” he said.
Kalala commended The Mast for providing a platform to the public at such a critical time.
He said the newspaper reminded him of the political atmosphere that preceded the 1991 general election.
“I also want to commend you for what you are doing to speak, to provide a platform for the people to express their feelings. I remember in 1991 we started with The Post, the Weekly Post that time. It provided a platform for the MMD to speak out and people were able to know what was obtaining at that time, and what was supposed to have been done and the mistakes that UNIP had made,” he said.
“So, people were well informed; the Weekly Post made a positive contribution to that. And this you have continued, and especially at this critical time because some of us who participated in that movement (the 1990-91 call for multipartism) from the beginning… we had a cell in Ndola which was working more or less on the same thing that the people here in Lusaka were working on. So I never thought that after that effort and explanation to the people, and of course a beneficiary of that effort, a beneficiary of the reintroduction of multipartism should want to kill democracy; it never crossed my mind. But here it has; so it gives us food for thought. And it’s also a good thing that, although not The Post [in liquidation], but The Mast is there again to do the same task. So this effort should continue, you should not give up.”
Kalala said he had resolved to withdraw from public life but he was forced to came back to contribute to democracy.
“But you are soldiering on and people are being informed. People are going to speak out, they have a platform because I can imagine this time… That time in 1991 it was even a bit different. At least the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail could still cover the opposition. But now it’s literally impossible to do that. Now, what would have happened if people like you don’t do it? In my view you are not doing it for money, certainly not,” said Kalala.
“It’s a national duty that you are doing. You are helping this nation to move forward under difficult circumstances. So, my appeal is that you should actually continue; soldier on. Don’t get discouraged, things will change. It may not be easy because if it was easy, like Shakespeare would say, ‘if wishes were horses even the poor would ride’. If it was easy everyone would achieve the aspired objectives. I had personally decided to withdraw and be in the background. I said look, let me focus with this experience I’ve gained in foreign service and here in Zambia – I’ve travelled almost all over the world – on my business. But given what is happening, we have been forced to come back to help restore democracy, to ensure the country does not slide back further.”