DEMOCRATIC Party president Harry Kalaba has regretted that President Edgar Lungu has become an advocate of wrong things.
Kalaba says President Lungu has never been a democrat.
During his interaction with journalists at State House on Friday, President Lungu said his ministers who were deemed to have worked illegally while Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2016 general elections were ready to pay but wondered whether they should pay every penny they got or just allowances.
The President also wondered whether the ministers worked for free while their input was to the benefit of the nation.
He argued that the matter of ministers paying back was not as simple and straightforward: “as saying ‘Edgar Lungu is eligible to stand in 2021.’”
“This is more complex because there are people who are out of our control now, who are no longer ministers, and we cannot say ‘we are going to deduct from your salary because the court has ordered that you surrender that money,’” President Lungu said.
“Some of them are our enemies and are saying ‘let me know how much so that I return the money.’ But who will tell them? Me I don’t know how much is supposed to be returned. So, this is not out of disrespect for the courts of law.”
President Lungu added that the matter had: “caused more questions than answers.”
“We are looking for answers! If it calls for us to go to court and get the court’s guidance, we’ll do so. [It’s] not that we want to harass the court or show disrespect to the court,” said President Lungu.
On November 27, 2017, The Mast carried a lead story titled I’LL PAY BACK… I respect ConCourt ruling – Kalaba.
Kalaba was, at the time, foreign affairs minister.
On Saturday, he called The Mast and wondered what enmity President Lungu was talking about on Friday.
“I don’t mean any malice at all! The President is saying that ‘our enemies.’ I didn’t talk about paying back the money when I became an opposition leader but when I was foreign affairs minister. I was still foreign minister when I said ‘show us the method of paying back.’ Was I an enemy even that time?” Kalaba wondered.
“President Lungu is not my enemy; I have never differed with him. We have only differed on principle, never on personal basis. So, I can’t become an enemy because I’m looking at a coin from a different perspective. He is reading from the page of self-aggrandizement but I’m looking at national building and creation of national wealth.”
He underscored that President Lungu should have been in the forefront of finding a solution on how ministers could reimburse the treasury.
“The courts have ruled. So, how can the President say ‘I don’t know how they should pay back?’ It is a pity that the President is becoming an advocate of wrong things,” Kalaba noted.
“He should have instructed, in the background, the Secretary to Cabinet… But clearly, you can see that the President has not made any effort towards this.”
He added that the President was hell-bent on undermining the court’s judgment on the matter.
“[But] I can tell you that when DP forms government, all of us will pay back this money. You can’t be undermining the courts of law in broad day like this!” he emphasised.
Meanwhile, on President Lungu’s claim that he was a democrat, Kalaba countered that: “he has never been a democrat.”
“He thinks Zambians are not watching!” noted Kalaba.