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You can’t serve the nation without principles – Aka

[By Chambwa Moonga in Mongu]

VETERAN politician Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika says those who go into political leadership should be clear on the kind of service they intend to offer.

Lewanika, popularly known as Aka, notes that there is no place where one can serve the nation without their principles.

He made the remarks when opposition Democratic Party (DP) president Harry Kalaba paid a courtesy call at his residence in Mongu on Thursday.

Asked about what today’s politicians in Zambia had to learn from the old guard, Mbikusita Lewanika explained that the most important thing was to recognise traditional African processes of choosing leaders and qualities of leadership that African tradition taught.

“Certainly in Barotseland tradition, the number one disqualification of leadership is to want to be a leader. What that means is not that people should not want to be leaders [but] the signal is that leadership is public service. So, when you go into leadership, you should be clear on what service you are going to serve,” he said.

“In the old days we used to say ‘what is your ideology? What is your programme?’ So, those principles you should have first so that when you agree that ‘now I have found a group of fellow people to work with in government’, you don’t lose your principles but contribute your principles.”

The former cabinet minister in Frederick Chiluba’s government added that whatever: “leadership position you have should not become the sort of job that is the most important in your life that you are prepared to do anything for it.”

“If you are really desperate for a position, you’ll never resign because it’s more important than your principles. When I resigned [as the Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training in July 1992], we were friends with Mr [Frederick] Chiluba at a personal level,” Mbikusita Lewanika explained.

“There is no place you can serve the nation minus your principles. If you are in the presidency or the Cabinet where your principles really fit in with the team, then you contribute to the maximum.”

He said if one was in a Cabinet where their principles were being offended everyday but “you are tolerating it because you don’t want to lose your salary, then your contribution is negative.”

“But it is a challenge for the people there – it is not easy to resign,” confessed Mbikusita Lewanika.
On his part, Kalaba said “whenever I’m in Western Province, I can’t just miss the opportunity to tap from the immense wisdom that he (Aka) has.”

Mbikusita Lewanika gave Kalaba a book he (Aka) authored titled ‘Milk in a basket – the political -economic malaise in Zambia.’

The duo, earlier, held an hour long closed-door meeting.

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