During the State House media reception last Friday Edgar Lungu, in response to a question by ZNBC reporter Mark Ziligone on his ‘reconciliation’ with the NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili recently, said he had gone to Church to remember late Michael Sata and he did not know that Kambwili was in the crowd and the priest called him and they shook hands.
“I was lamenting at that point. I was saying what have I done to be called for reconciliation because I have never differed with this gentleman. In short, I have no issues with Chishimba Kambwili, save that he has offended some people, including members of my family, by calling me a thief, a corrupt person and a drug dealer. To cut the long story short, after the meeting the priest saw it fit to call us in his office and there I told him (Kambwili) what I have said. I said ‘you can’t reconcile with me, even if the Church [feels] that to be the case or the nation wants that to be the case, because I have no issues with you and it’s you who has issues with me. So, if you say I’m a thief, you should lay the evidence that I’m a thief, I’m a corrupt person, I’m a drug dealer; if I was a private person, I would have sued you’. Those were my words and then I promised that I’ll not talk about this matter because his response to my position was that he is suffering. His family and businesses have suffered and I told him, I said ‘your family and businesses are suffering because of your mouth’. I explained further by saying that ‘your mouth is so negative that people who want to work with you fear that they will be perceived to be supporting your cause and so, some of them have been withdrawing business association and interest from you’. It’s not to do with me because I know what it means to suffer blackout or sanctions in that manner. So, I don’t know whether you can say that was reconciliation or not. I have spoken the way things happened! After that, we left,” says Edgar. “But you make peace with yourself, first; find out whether what you are saying is truthful or not. If not, retract. I went further and I said ‘look, GBM (Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba) reconciled truthfully’. He went public and said he is sorry about it and so on. The Mayor of Lusaka (Miles Sampa), we reconciled because he went public and said ‘look, I want to work with you, I’m sorry’. We did this not in the bedroom of my house or the privacy of State House. But he (Sampa) went public because the public is affected by these things. So, that’s where we are.”
But Kambwili says: “No, he is lying, he is lying and we cannot have a lying President. If that is what he has said, I will give an exclusive interview to the media tomorrow about what transpired in that meeting. I am travelling right now, I will give all the details. Because I respected him as President not to divulge, in fact, the priest asked us that what we were discussing remains there. And if he has given a different version of the story, tomorrow, I will call a press conference and explain to the media what happened. But when you hear the whole thing that was discussed, you will be disappointed that that’s the man you have as President. Efilya ba landa mu ciBemba ati akanwa kamilandu kalaibala. I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt let me help this man try to keep the little integrity that he has remained with, but now if he has opened up and misrepresented facts, I will explain everything that happened in that meeting. And there were witnesses there and we will see who is telling the truth and who is not.”
They say no one feels sorry for a snake charmer who gets bitten. It’s clear that Kambwili has been working his way to Edgar. He has been positioning himself along Edgar’s way. And an opportunistic Catholic priest took advantage of that to try and draw attention to himself.
It’s true that Kambwili is a tenderprenuer who was very much dependent on government or government connected business. And that business is today under the control of Edgar. It’s a fact that Edgar uses the withdrawal of government or government connected business to fix his political opponents. And indeed Kambwili is being squeezed.
Kambwili has been seeking Edgar’s attention and he got it. But it has backfired. Whether Lungu is lying or not about him is not the issue. The issue is Kambwili has been seeking contact with Edgar, he had been queuing for Edgar to greet him.
Again, we maintain our position that it shouldn’t surprise anyone if tomorrow Kambwili rejoins the Patriotic Front and publicly apologises to Edgar. Kambwili did not resign from the Patriotic Front and Edgar’s government. He was chased. And for some time he resisted being fired and even went to court. He had no problems with Edgar and his corruption. There are no principles Kambwili is pursuing in his denunciations of Edgar.