FRED M’membe says if he wins the August 12 elections, his official attire will be a Zambia National Service uniform.
Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party presidential candidate, consistently wears military-like fatigues, complete with Fidel Castro-like caps.
As he was about to conclude the virtual rally interview for Lusaka, Central and Eastern provinces on Thursday evening, Socialist Party spokesperson Rehoboth Kafwabulula asked Dr M’membe if, as the Republican President, he would continue to wear a cap and cargo outfits, or he would switch to suits
Dr M’membe laughed and then remarked: “is a human being defined by what he wears?”
“Bushe ukufwala suit e mano (does wearing a suit mean being intelligent)? Nabakabolala balafwala ama suit nama tie (even thieves wear suits and neck ties). Ebatemwa nokutemwa saana ama tie nama suit bakabolala (it’s actually them who prefer the most suits and neck ties),” he responded.
“But I would prefer to wear a uniform.”
Dr M’membe explained that when one wears a uniform, it reduces the pressure on them of having to think of what to wear every day.
“I hope, if I win the elections, ZNS (Zambia National Service) will allow me to go back to ZNS uniform, because they have not retired me. I’m still a reserve solder with the Zambia Defence Forces,” Dr M’membe noted. “They have not officially retired me [but] I have reached retirement age – I’m supposed to retire. But since I’m not retired, if I win elections I’ll be in a ZNS uniform. That’s the unit to which I belong!”
He continued, saying: “in that way, I’ll not be able to worry about what to wear; I’ll just be getting into my uniform and go and work.”
Dr M’membe, however, put a caveat on the issue of wearing a uniform when meeting foreign dignitaries.
“I can wear a suit here and there. I don’t have a problem with a suit, but it’s a waste of time,” he said. “I wore suits when I was an accountant. I wear suits as a lawyer [and] that’s enough. If I win the elections, I’m not going to practice as an accountant, I’m not going to practice as a lawyer.”
Dr M’membe pointed out that as Republican president, he is going to be in the field with people.
“I’m going to work! I’ll not be an office president,” Dr M’membe said.
“So, a uniform will save money and time. Yes, I have a few suits that I can wear…”
Dr M’membe further explained that his dressing is influenced by so many lives that he has lived.
“If I want a good suit, I can wear a good suit because I’m a lawyer, I’m an accountant. Also I have got a musical background,” he explained.
“So, part of my dressing is influenced by my music background. As I have said, I do also have a small military background; that also influences my dressing. So, I’m a combination of so many things.”
Dr M’membe said he would want to minimise the wastage on clothes.
“We had a president in this country who spent so much public resources on clothes. [But] when he died, he was just dressed in one suit. Where have the rest gone? Wasted!” he noted. “Designer shoes, shirts, designer this and that; a waste of millions of taxpayers’ money! And it doesn’t matter; even if it’s your own money, you can do better with that type of money, than wasting it on so many clothes.”
But Dr M’membe clarified that he was: “not saying that people shouldn’t be dressing nicely.”
“They should look nice! But we need to keep it within limits. We have working class families today that are starving because the parents are spending most of the income on clothes to look nice, as if they are going for a dressing competition,” said Dr M’membe. “It’s causing malnutrition among children! We need to moderate this. But get me right; I’m not saying don’t look nice. People should look nice!”