EDGAR Lungu is digging his own grave because come the PF general conference, the rug under his feet is going to be pulled, a Cabinet minister says.
The minister and a PF central committee member met this reporter last week and gave a long-winded interview.
Except for nods, laughter, from time to time intermittent comments of ‘yea, true,’ the central committee member did not speak.
The duo requested anonymity.
The minister is concerned that President Lungu has “quarantined” himself amid concerns of the coronavirus instead of addressing the nation.
“Not all is rosy” in the ruling PF, the source said.
“The confusion in the opposition is very easy to notice and that’s how deeper investigative journalists must go and see…There is this belief that quietness means consent, peace and that kind of a thing. You as a newspaper, you have to ask why our PF is peaceful. Our general conference will open up a Pandora’s Box,” the minister said. “I have spoken to some of my fellow Cabinet ministers and some very senior PF officials – like me – they are not very happy with President Edgar Lungu but they cannot say it. We are all now banking on the general conference and I hope it won’t be a conference where you simply raise hands [but] it should be by secret ballot.”
The minister explained that a month ago, “I went to meet a very senior member of the central committee of our party and he was telling me that the state we are in, President Lungu is unelectable.”
“Actually, he said it will be political suicide to go with what our secretary general (Davies Mwila) is insisting – sole candidate, sole candidate. Yes, when we go to the general conference, they will go and intimidate people and I know that some people will fall for it,” the minister said. “But within our party, there is a scheme to pull a fast one which might catch President Lungu and his trusted followers off-guard. There are some leadership schemes in this PF you see, and the President seems to be aware about it.”
The minister is not impressed that journalism standards in Zambia, especially now, are found limited and wanting.
The source wondered why journalists were not asking the question of how can government policies were being defended by PF media director Sunday Chanda and and his deputy Antonio Mwanza “who are not part” of Cabinet.
“These two boys are defending government policies from a distance and you wonder whether they have contacts with government technocrats who are policy-makers. Policy-makers are only answerable to us the policy-implementers, Cabinet ministers and certainly the appointing authority. Why are you journalists not finding it strange that it’s Sunday Chanda and Antonio Mwanza who are working hard to defend government policy?” the Minister asked. “It’s like in a home where I live with my wife, children and other dependents. Can you imagine a situation where when there is an issue in my home, someone asks me, my wife and my children for an explanation but we all say, ‘I don’t know.’ Then a dependent says, ‘I know and I will answer that question’.”
The minister insisted: “nobody among you journalists has ever stood to ask why Sunday Chanda and Antonio seem to be the ones who know more about government policy!”
“Why are they always discussing government policy which is not their field or territory? When a minister is appointed by the President, they are sworn in and there are reasons why I was sworn in, for instance. Whatever a minister says and does in their office is binding. When we do it wrongly against the Constitution, you can have us prosecuted,” the source explained. “But the statements from Sunday Chanda and Antonio, you cannot hold them to account. The media is even so happy to announce ‘we are having Antonio Mwanza who is going to discuss the state of the nation.’ But where is the minister with the mandate to discuss the state of the nation? Us ministers are not ready! Even our President…there is Coronavirus. Where is he? He has gone missing! He has quarantined himself. Nobody wants to ask…Edgar Lungu is digging his own grave because come the general conference, the rug under his feet is going to be pulled.”
The minister said if President Lungu manages to beat all hurdles which lie: “in his way for a third term, then he will be a genius.”
“Things will explode! All is not rosy in PF. The internal despondency in our party…It’s not plain-sailing. So what makes ba Edgar Lungu so certain that he is going to win an election? There are schemes in PF and I should also tell you that [justice minister Given] Lubinda is one person who is treacherous – Michael Sata gave him that title,” the source said.
The minister indicated that: “very few senior PF officials want ba Edgar Lungu to go for a third term.”
“Even Davies Mwila is playing to the gallery,” the source said.
On the case of eligibility, the minister said the ruling party rank and file was not even so sure: “whether [Chief Justice Irene] Mambilima or [Electoral Commission of Zambia chairperson Esau] Chulu will get Edgar Lungu’s [nomination] papers.”
“No one in the PF is sure whether judge Chulu will also go with the wind. So there are hurdles – whether the judges will give our President a go ahead. As a political party, why are we taking such huge risks? I can safely say PF is in panic mode,” the source noted. “Internally, we have a group that wants to go to the general conference and pull the rug under Edgar Lungu’s feet. Edgar Lungu is not wanted in the party! If you have been to the village where they burn stuff pa cishala (dumpsite), you know umulilo (fire) for three weeks walipita (has been burning) and so as children you are playing and you go and dump yourself there, the top stuff is nothing but ashes and it’s even dry but the fire is still burning down there. With the weight of the body, it will make you reach where the fire is and you’ll burn yourself. This is what is happening in our PF; it’s calm on the top. [But] there is hot fire down there and the moment you exert your pressure, you get burnt. Edgar will get burnt!”
Asked who could emerge to replace President Lungu in the PF, especially that presidential hopeful Kelvin Fube Bwalya remains an expelled member of the ruling party, the minister answered that: “we can’t let the cat out of the bag. But somebody will!”
The minister stressed that the PF was overwhelmed with silent wrangling.
“This country hasn’t got shops for PF, it hasn’t got a dollar for PF. It hasn’t got employment for PF, it hasn’t got mealie-meal for PF. As PF members, we are equally casualties of Edgar Lungu’s leadership,” said the minister. “So, you see, when I sit down…You know I have been in politics for a while now. When you publish what I’m telling you, no sane PF official will object because they know what I’m talking about. PF is in serious problems!”