[By David Chongo in Solwezi]
STEPHEN Masumba has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to consider lifting the suspension of North Western Province PF chairperson Jackson Kungo on similar presumption of innocence afforded to Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya as both PF leaders faced court charges.
And Masumba has wondered why North Western still does not support President Lungu despite delivering on their demands.
He is advising aggrieved PF members in North Western to manage their misunderstandings over recent appointment of district commissioners.
Speaking to the media in Solwezi on Saturday, Masumba said Kungo’s charges in a Mwinilunga court were still allegations and the latter had not yet been found guilty of any offence.
Masumba, who is currently pursuing law studies, said Kungo was suspended from his position as provincial PF chairperson following his arrest and subsequent court appearances but Chilufya’s positions as Minister of Health and member of the PF central committee have not been revoked based on presumption of innocence.
Masumba begged President Lungu and the PF Central Committee to similarly lift Kungo’s suspension for him to enjoy the presumption of innocence.
“Politically, people have seen me to be a bit quiet of late, more especially on the happenings that we saw recently in the North Western Province where we saw one Kungo being arrested and not only being arrested, I think we also saw him suspended from the party. However, I took a back step only to observe, to see as to whether we the people of North Western Province were going to offer some solidarity to one another. Now that I have seen this quietness, it looks to be quite loud and clear where no one is even speaking out. I thought I must place myself on record that look, whenever we see a person from North Western Province, solidarity is very important,” he said. “Whenever we see our friend being in trouble, we must always be there for each other. It doesn’t matter whether we differ in terms of political ideologies and so on, but I think to me what comes first is a human being and when you talk of the human being, the human being himself is Kungo, who is a son of the soil. So to me I would encourage the people of North Western that what is happening on Kungo today, tomorrow it can be yourself. So when we begin to support one another, I can assure you that even you when you are in trouble you will see solidarity, people will come from all over and they will protect you. Look at what happened to the solidarity that we are seeing over our comrade Chitalu Chilufya, who is the Minister of Health. We have seen chiefs coming all over from Luapula Province but where are our chiefs here? We are your children and why are we not being supported?”
Masumba said based on the doctrine of presumption of innocence, Kungo could only be conferred or given a status of being guilty when he is tried before the courts of law.
He said what Kungo was facing were mere allegations.
“And the young man is not yet guilty; he is still being tried. And why are we distancing ourselves? Even in an event that, say for example, he was to be called guilty, solidarity as well is very paramount. So to me I call upon the leadership of the Patriotic Front to say look, just like you have treated other people where they are also coming from a background of being arrested and they have not been suspended from their specific positions both in government and the party, I am also appealing before President [Lungu] that look, President [Lungu] we are down on our knees that let’s allow Kungo also be given that same status where we can have a situation that even as he is trying to appear before the courts of law, we should first of all apply the law equally to everyone where we must see to it that Kungo himself also should not be suspended not even to be expelled because if we do so then it means we will be preempting,” Masumba said. “It will be as though the gentleman is already guilty. So in this case, I still feel that while Kungo is still being tried in the courts of law, just like we have given this opportunity to comrade Chitalu Chilufya, who is also the Minister of Health, who has not been dropped and also similarly he has also not been…the position as a member of the central committee has not been revoked as well. So because of that background, I still stand on terra firma that look, even Kungo must still be treated in the same way even as they regard their decisions. I know that maybe [PF] Central Committee may be sitting, we are crying before you Mr President that look sir, hear us. When you hear us, we know that we shall still cooperate and we shall allow our brother to appear before the court of law without any interference, without any acrimony. All we are saying is that just like we are able to see that comrade Chilufya is being treated that is how I feel that even Kungo must be treated.”
Masumba wondered how Kungo had lost the popularity that won him the provincial chairmanship but received little solidarity even from among PF members, including the traditional leaders in the region.
“So to me, I call upon you our chiefs in the province that please let’s be game and protect your children. Because when you keep protecting us even us we will walk with our heads up. By that protection, you will restore our confidence and we shall represent the province with confidence because where you have confidence, the element of inferiority complex will not be there,” Masumba said.
And Masumba said President Lungu was loyal to North Western and had showed his commitment by visiting the region regularly to listen to the people.
However, Masumba noted that PF still received little support during elections.
He said President Lungu had not relaxed on his agenda for North Western and was determined to honour demands of the people.
However, Masumba said if North Westerners felt the President was not delivering, they had a right to remind him of his responsibilities.
“When you tell leadership to say ‘yes, we need this or that’ because in the past we have always given conditions to the president to say ‘no if you give us Solwezi/Chingola road, we are going to give you the vote’ but here is Chingola/Solwezi road [completed]. So we hope and trust that based on your demands and now that the President has danced to your tune by ensuring that he gives us Solwezi/Chingola road, let’s give him support through the ballot paper,” he urged. “That way it will also give him enough energy to continue working for you because he will track us; he will know that whenever the people of North Western say ‘when you do this, we shall favour you’ then he will continue working in that direction.”
Masumba once served as Mufumbwe PF member of parliament and also North Western Province minister.
He said the opposition UPND which people gave massive support had a different political ideology that prevented them from having developmental dialogue with the PF government.
Masumba suggested that people should mix representation of PF and UPND to have a voice that could dialogue with government over development in the region.
He urged PF members in the province to be loyal to President Lungu and support his recent appointments of Emmanuel Chihili as North Western deputy permanent secretary, district commissioners, which had raised disappointment in some sections of PF membership that say some appointees were from opposition parties.
Masumba advised the local PF to manage their misunderstandings and respect presidential appointments saying if they had any differences of opinion, they needed to dialogue with the appointees to find common ground for working together.
And Masumba said he would recontest the Mufumbwe parliamentary seat in 2021 because people were missing his leadership in development.