I’ve no full confidence in Lungu’s leadership – KBF

By Staff Reporter

Lusaka lawyer and PF member Kelvin Bwalya Fube says he has no full confidence in President Edgar Lungu’s leadership because the latter is not doing much in the fight against corruption.

And Bwalya, who said most Zambian politicians were morally and ethically unsound, further explained that he backed Lungu to succeed late president Michael Sata in 2014 because the former was the PF’s only saleable candidate during that highly divisive period leading to the January 20, 2015 presidential election.

He said there was no way the PF-led government could create employment for the youth because the bulk of the national budget was consumption-based.

However, he disclosed that he had since stopped going to State House to advise Lungu because whenever those around the President saw him frequenting the place, they thought he was looking for a job.

Below are excerpts from Bwalya’s conversation with Prime TV’s Mwape Kumwenda during a special interview on Tuesday night:

“We belong to organisations and we have to have a belief system in those organisations. So, when you got to a point of ‘who are we going to support to run this election?’, it is a unanimous decision or a collective decision at Congress, which is held by way of elections. Now, in the case of our particular President, there are a lot of things that happened. One, when the late president Michael Chilufya Sata, died there was a lot of people that ganged up and wanted to run for the presidency. We had Miles Sampa, my young brother. We had CK – Chishimba Kambwili. We had Harry Kalaba, Mulenga Sata. There were names being thrown in of the first lady, former first lady but now Ambassador to France and other people.

As a strategist in running elections, what you look forward to looking at is not whether or not this person or that person can compete within the party. You must look at what message you can sell to the electorate so that they understand why you must continue in power. What we did, some of us, is that we took a deliberate position to look at what was going to be prevailing. One of the reasons, for example, we decided on the current president was simple. The late president came from Northern side and it wasn’t going to seat very well for the nation to have another northerner take over. Because then people would be saying, ‘aah, it’s about tribalism’. We didn’t want to be accused, so we looked at that. We also looked at the perspective of who is likely to have a saleable name? Yes, some people claim that being a minister makes them automatic choice for the presidency. I don’t think so. There are many people who are in Cabinet who don’t qualify to be president. So, it’s a question of what were we going to do?

So, we agreed, the possible candidate who can win us this election is the current secretary general of the party; is the current Minister of Justice; is the current Minister of Defence and acting President. So, we decided Edgar Chagwa Lungu was the best candidate and we rallied behind him.”

Q: Was it a decision on merit?

A: Yes. The Central Committee took that decision on merit.

Q: As a credible leader for the PF?

A: Correct. Because when we analysed the reasons why he had so many portfolios, we believed; now this is a belief, we believed that he was more credible and more trustworthy at that level. So, we decided ‘this is the candidate we are going to float’, and that is the candidate we took to Mulungushi, that’s the candidate the ‘Congress’ endorsed and that’s the candidate we had. I still back that decision because it made logical sense at the time. The difficulty, Ba Mwape, is this: when you support to get into office at any level, depending on the campaign, as a politician, you are not responsible for what they do when they enter office. I am not responsible for the current President’s decisions after he took oath of office; I am not responsible. He is responsible, because at that point he is now Mr President. I may know him personally but he is my President and I respect that. So, he is responsible, the buck stops with him. So, we gave him the power.

Q: Do you have confidence in his leadership as it stands?

A: To a certain level…

Q: Considering what you have written down in terms of the challenges we have today?

A: To a certain level, I have confidence in the President, to another level, no. On the corruption fight, I don’t think he has done enough. I have said that in the book [Zambia Must Prosper] and I have said corruption is a cancer; it’s eating at the fibre of this country. We can’t allow that. I will not say I agree with my President on the fight against corruption, I don’t.

Q: Why?

A: The decisions that he has taken. For instance, the President told us, about two years ago, he was going to fire corrupt Ministers. He decided to discipline CK, one only. The perception out there, if you talk to members of the public and PF, they will tell you that on the corruption stand, they are very worried, because they don’t believe CK was the only culprit. CK is not the only person who the members of PF want to see disciplined.

Now, discipline comes out of different levels. Today, Chishimba Kambwili is still a member of PF. He’s still Roan member of parliament. So, for me those are battles in the field and in the courts, so I don’t want to go into them.

But on the fight against corruption, I don’t think we have [done well]. But in other areas, because the vision that he has carried on is ba Sata’s vision, it’s a PF vision, we are moving. On the infrastructure, I think we have made a bit of movement. We are making strides in terms of schools, roads, clinics…

Asked about the quality of the current government, Bwalya replied:

“Some people just saw the entrance of a church after they joined politics. So, you wonder if they are true Christians or not. You must always ask the person’s background. I am insisting on that because one day we might have somebody we don’t know holding an office in this country and then making decisions for us, which might not be to the benefit of Zambians. So that’s very dangerous.”

Q: Do you still have confidence in the current leadership we have, considering your take that the current poverty levels are as a result of what you see to be poor leadership? Do you still have confidence in the current leadership?

A: Confidence in the leadership? If you look in my book somewhere, I state that competency is very important to produce confidence. When you are competent in your job, you are confident. If you are incompetent, the level of competence will go down. Therefore, it follows that in everything we do as Zambians, we must push an agenda ensuring that our leaders are accountable to us. To answer to the question, I have confidence politically because of the systems that are in place in this country. You cannot exploit the systems too far but I don’t have confidence in some of the individuals holding political leadership office in this country, I don’t.

Q: Which individuals are those?

A: I don’t want to discuss personalities but I think the Zambian people can judge. They know who is incompetent. They know who can’t deliver. They know who is not supposed to be given a position but has a position, and that’s what is bringing problems out there politically. We must always say ‘give the best jobs to the most competent people, give the best jobs on merit’. But if we begin to give jobs simply because someone is dancing, singing the loudest and trying to pretend to be loyal at the expense of competent, educated Zambians, no! Our politics must begin to shift; that’s my prayer.

Q: Brings me to the issue of ethics and morality as you have written down in your book and you tell us there are politicians, corrupt and yet the corruption tag does not seem to disturb their career. They still go on working normally. What makes you think in that way?

A: This is a very delicate subject. Many politicians today in Zambia are ethically and morally unsound. They lack principle and that’s what I am trying to attack. If you are going to belong to a political party, belong to a political party because you have a belief system about what the political party stands for. The problem we have now is that we have people jumping from one party to the next when it is very clear they are doing this out of economic gain or out of selfish interests. For example, it is immoral to stand on a pedestal or some hill in a campaign and condemn and insult a political party, you then jump six months later to join that same political party. Morally, I have a problem with that; you lack principle. Where do you stand? What’s your ideology?  Where is your faith? You must believe in something. Otherwise why are you there?

You have people who held positions in certain political parties who have been dismissed or expelled or have left on their own, then they stand and start condemning the same political party whose agenda they were peddling, again in the same vein, that’s immoral. What did you believe in? If you analyse the reasons why people begin to condemn what they loved two days ago, it’s personal. If you stand on principle, you will not condemn that which you believed in. You can’t, because you know that the belief system is the same, the values that you propounded are the same. You may have difficulties with certain individuals but that’s at an individual level. You can’t use that as an excuse to try and start fighting that same system. I will give you an example, it is very wrong again, on a moral standing, to have somebody who is given a national responsibility, for example privatisation, to undervalue the sale of companies, the value of companies that he is selling and then come and claim somewhere down the road that there is unemployment when you were given a responsibility to sell on behalf of the nation, not yourself, on behalf of the nation, certain companies, which you failed or you did something wrong and you undervalued those companies.

Move forward, equally it is morally wrong for somebody in a civil service job to be a procurement officer and to begin to overprice the value of the goods in that government…

On the issue of Zambian leaders providing hope to the people, the self-proclaimed ‘election strategist’ said:

“They (investors) come under the guise of investors but when you examine what they are doing, they are not really investors. That becomes a problem. If they have come to take over Zambian jobs, to me that’s a problem. If they have come to set up churches in this country, Zambians can’t be…We are not trying to say that we are trying to block investors from the international community but there are certain indicators that tell you that people are looking for some kind of hope for this country, and if the leadership is not providing hope the nation gets sick and the nation then begins to suffer and that is perpetuated. We can’t allow that. There is too much exploitation of Zambians by foreigners.”