NEWLY-FORMED Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) interim president Felix Mutati says the country is at crossroads where it is divided on tribal lines.
And Mutati has accepted collective responsibility for the country’s high debt.
Launching the party at Mika Convention Centre in Lusaka yesterday, Mutati who has also served in various cabinet portfolios under three different presidents, said the MDC provided an alternative to unite the country.
“As we consulted on issues to do with the conditions of living, we also were told that the current political climate, the way we are carrying on, we are a country divided. We are divided along tribal lines; we are divided again along regional lines. And, indeed, it’s not that I know you, but I know that if you come, you are a Bemba and I’m a Lozi I must hate you,” he said as the audience applauded him. “So, we are at a crossroads as a country. And what is more, we have a dilemma of making a choice between the lesser of the worst. Who should the people of Zambia, which party, should they choose? It’s always the lesser of the worst. So, we are here as MDC to give you an alternative. The Movement is a party created for the people of Zambia to bring prosperity to the people of Zambia through the people themselves.”
Mutati said in the midst of such divisions his party provided the best option for next year’s elections.
“Like I said, with MDC, for the next year’s election, it provides the people of Zambia the option, the alternative, the chance not to choose the lesser of the worst. And because they are choosing the lesser of the worst, many Zambians have elected that it’s better not to go and vote,” Mutati said. “So, our role as MDC is to motivate those of our Zambians that now there’s an option, now you have a choice. A choice which is not covered by tribe and region, by gender, but driven by the fuel of unity, peace and prosperity for the people of Zambia. As a party, our focus on prosperity is that you cannot prosper through corruption. You can only prosper through hard work; and there’s no other shortcut. We are not just a party but we are the party. We will shake that other party. We are starting a movement and all positions are open. We shall go through a normal process and we shall hold a congress.”
Mutati pledged to restore the country’s credibility both at home and abroad.
If elected Republican president, he promised to surround himself with competent people.
“I will not take your confidence for granted. But I can only promise that I’ll do my very best with all my heart, so that wherever I don’t succeed it’s not lack of effort; it will be the limit of my ability,” he said. “And that is the reason I’ll endeavour as much as possible to be surrounded by competent people; people of credentials. People who are going to make that difference. As MDC, our philosophy is servant leadership. That you are not the best, but you are one among the equals. Anyone of you can be president; and I promise you, I will not last forever.”
And Mutati, who served as finance minister under President Edgar Lungu, refused to apportion blame on anyone for the country’s high indebtedness.
“And you say Mutati you were part of it, you were minister of finance. Yes, I accept collective responsibility. I’ll not be the first one to apportion and appoint blame of who did and did not do. I played my part in the team. When the team wins, everyone celebrates. When you lose, please don’t point fingers; that is not team spirit,” he said.
Mutati further said he had heard a lot of complaints from people about the high levels of corruption in all sectors.
He bemoaned the corrupt system involved in accessing public services.
“…These are simple things, but these are the things that are grappling our people on a daily basis; they are critical issues. Others lamented that they are seeing a surge not only of corruption in the high offices, but also in corporate boardrooms, which is making the cost of service to go up,” he said. “If you want a job you have to pay something. If you want a favour you have to pay something. Sometimes even to get a place in school you have to do that and scratch somebody.”
He condemned lawlessness from political party supporters as was currently happening.
“We believe as MDC that Zambia has greater value to the world and all humanity through its diversity. A Zambia where everyone is free to express and participate in political life assured of security of life, and property, no matter your affiliation,” Mutati said. “This is the MDC that believes that cadreism, essential as it must be, it must not be the law unto itself. Let’s give space to the institutions to do what they must do; they must not be overrun by cadreism. These institutions belong to all of us and must protect all of us. We must look to them, let them not run to us for protection; that is important for MDC.”
Meanwhile, Mutati said he has worked with three presidents and learnt something from each one of them.
“I have worked with three presidents. I have worked first, the one who appointed me first [was] Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. And what I remember of him is the issue of discipline, the issue of rule of law, and the determination to push you to work hard; he had no limits,” Mutati explained. “Rupiah Banda gave us space and said, go and make mistakes, but provided you deliver on your role. President Lungu, I learnt one thing; humanity, very humble. So, from each president there was something that has rubbed on to me and I salute the three presidents.”
Notable among party members are former national planning minister Lucky Mulusa who is the secretary general.
Others are renowned economist Trevor Simumba, former ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba who is the party’s vice-president, and former labour minister Fackson Shamenda.
The launch was also attended by Lusaka lawyer Kelvin Fube Bwalya.